Liquidation sales at the 138 stores will start next month, and most of the stores will be shut by mid-June, the company said.
It once shared a building with a grocery store that closed years ago.
J.C. Penney is far from the only department store icon to announce closures as more people opt for fast fashion retailers or cyber shopping over mall walking.
"Many of these stores have struggled with their financial performance for years and we have kept them open to maintain local jobs and in the hopes that they would turn around." said Howard Riefs, director of corporate communications for Sears Holdings, of closing Sears and Kmart locations. Marie - will be closed.
J.C. Penney has more than 1,000 store locations across the USA and Puerto Rico and employs more than 100,000 associates.
The closures are part of the company's previously announced plans to focus on its best-performing stores.
Friday's action underscores the growing impact online retailers are having on brick-and-mortor retailers across the country.
According to a company release issued Friday on its website, the closings are "a continuing effort to advance sustainable growth and long-term profitability".
She said PREIT's expectation was that the store would remain open.
In addition to the 138 stores, J.C. Penney Company Inc. also will close one supply chain facility in Lakeland, Fla., and will relocate one supply chain facility in Buena Park, Calif.
Associates who will be impacted by the store and distribution center closures will receive separation benefits, which includes assistance identifying other opportunities and outplacement services, such as resume writing and interview preparation, the release states.