Blessing Hospital | St. Louis Public Radio

Blessing Hospital

Dressbarn is one of the latest traditional retailers to close up shop at the Quincy Mall, as seen in this photo from Dec. 2019. Property owners are looking to tenants such as clinics and spas to fill the vacant spaces.
Sarah Fentem | St. Louis Public Radio

In August 2018, the Quincy Mall was in crisis. A few years earlier, JCPenney, one of the mall’s three large department store anchors, had closed. That month, the two remaining stores, Sears and Bergner’s, closed within weeks of each other.

“It left us with just this huge big-box vacancy,” said Mike Jenkins, the property manager at the 500,000-square-foot mall in Quincy, Illinois. 

The loss of such major tenants has been a death sentence for many malls. But the shopping center had a stroke of luck. The same time the department stores closed, one of the small city’s two large medical providers was looking for a space to house a planned outpatient surgery clinic.

It was humid spring morning in the woods of central Missouri and Henry Domke was lining up a shot. His target? The vibrant petals of a red buckeye bloom.

"I want to level it. Make sure it’s really sharp," Domke said as he adjusted his tripod and focused in before snapping the photo. 

Domke — a retired family doctor — has been photographing the wildlife in his back yard for years. When he was a doctor, he decorated his practice with his photographs, and after he retired he started exhibiting his work.