Saving Department Store Buildings

10 May 2022

The 20th Century Society

The 20th Century Society seeks to protect and preserve the best of 20th Century Architecture.  They are running a campaign to save department store buildings from needless demolition if they have architectural merit and can be repurposed.  They have been cooperating with SAVE on this endeavour.

The 20th Century Society has commented on Debenhams in Guildford in a letter to GBC concerning the St Mary’s proposed development.

“It is a well-designed and robust piece of 1960s commercial architecture which we believe makes a positive contribution to the character and appearance of the area.

The Guildford store features in our campaign (to preserve department store buildings) as a building of landmark quality and townscape merit. It is possible to repurpose large department stores which have been vacant for some time, like that in Guildford, and we can cite several cases where this has been done successfully for the benefit of local communities and the wider public.”

Many will find their view of Debenhams Guildford challenging but worth considering  as the future of the site is determined. 


The 20th Century Society have recently reported on how several Department Stores have been repurposed and highlighted several that are at risk.  The repurposing of the sites is interesting as it shows how Department Stores can continue to provide public facilities within a town centre respoinding to a smaller demand for retail space.  This also often includes significant changes to the buildings (See the Debenhams Gloucester example mentioned in the report).


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