Certain places bring back vivid memories of your childhood. For me, Jackson, Michigan's long-since-closed Westwood Mall Cinema is one of them. I saw countless movies there, including The Fox and the Hound, The Color Purple, Empire Strikes Back, and the first movie I ever went to without my parents: Terminator 2. The Westwood Cinema served as entertainment for Gen X, and the surrounding mall and theater provided affordable babysitters for our parents.

Related: Jackson, Michigan's Unofficial Mascot Lives Inside the Westwood Mall

While the mall is still there, the Westwood Cinema shut down—as far as I can remember—in the mid-to-late 90s. Information on the theater is slim, even in the age of technology at your fingertips.

Remembering the Movie Experience at Jackson, Michigan's Westwood Cinema

Bygone Michigan Movie Theaters: Jackson's 'Westwood Mall Cinema 2'
Scott Clow / A look inside the vacant space that used to house the Westwood Cinema lobby

When the Westwood Cinema opened in 1972, it was one of the mall's original tenants. The owners touted the new shopping center as not just a place to make purchases but also something to do. The theater provided that for countless youth and adults in the Jackson area.

The narrow lobby herded moviegoers through the ticket and concession lines into one of the two theaters. I remember the bathrooms being a bit cramped, even for a 1970s build.

Bygone Michigan Movie Theaters: Jackson's 'Westwood Mall Cinema 2'
Scott Clow

In 2012, after being shuttered for at least a decade, the former theaters got a new life as the Bounce Castle, an indoor inflatable play area for kids. I held my daughter's birthday there that year, and it seemed the owners were on to something. The Bounce Castle closed three years later, in 2015.

Related: DEAD MALLS of Michigan: Jackson's Nearly Empty Westwood Mall

Beyond the exact date, the theater stopped showing movies and popping addictive popcorn, another mystery remains: Why, if the theater has been closed for at least 25 years, IS THE SIGN STILL UP? Why is this relic still standing?

Bygone Michigan Movie Theaters: Jackson's 'Westwood Mall Cinema 2'
Scott Clow / Canva Westwood Mall Cinema 2's entrance, including wiring for the old sign

I guess I'm happy it's still there. Seeing that familiar 1 and 2 on occasion opens up the floodgates of childhood memories, from asking for just a few more minutes on the Westwood Mall Hippo before leaving for the movie to asking my parents to drop me off at the front entrance so my friends wouldn't see me get out of their car.

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Those two cinemas were home to many of Jackson's first and/or last dates, first kisses, first rated R movies, and first times seeing a film without a parent. What do you remember about Westwood Cinemas?

DEAD MALLS of Michigan: Jackson's Nearly Empty Westwood Mall

Jackson, Michigan's Westwood Mall once boasted 72 tenants and a lush retail environment. Today it sits with well over 20 vacancies and an empty anchor store. Here's a look inside the nearly empty halls of Jackson's Westwood Mall.

Gallery Credit: Scott Clow

DEAD MALLS of Michigan: Battle Creek's BLEAK Lakeview Square Mall

Opened in 1983 by Forbes/Cohen and anchored by Hudson's, Sears, and JC Penney, the Lakeview Mall was once Battle Creek's meeting place. Face forward to today, and you'll find nearly entire wings void of shoppers or merchants. Here's a look at the empty storefronts, corridors, and halls of Battle Creek's Lakeview Mall.

Gallery Credit: Scott Clow

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