Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Meriden Hub (Mall); Meriden, Connecticut

Having lived in Central Connecticut my entire life, I had grown up frequenting various shopping malls in the area. One that classified itself in a particular segment of Connecticut was the Meriden area where the memorable Meriden Square exists on Lewis Avenue (and Chamberlain Highway). Until a few weeks ago, I was alerted via the internet and a few sites (originally Dead Malls, before I knew about this second mall in Meriden) about another, albeit vacant, mall located only a few miles away from the now Westfield Shoppingtown Meriden (formerly known as Meriden Square) by Labelscar author Jason Damas.

One of the most unusual looking smaller enclosed malls of the early 1970's still standing in the state of Connecticut not too far off from Bristol's Centre Mall.

For the record, and to clear much confusion I have recently waded through: there are two shopping malls in Meriden. First, we have the Westfield Shoppingtown Meriden formerly known as the Meriden Square. Then, we have the Meriden Hub formerly known as the Meriden Mall. There’s quite an interesting history regarding the rivalry of these two very different malls with very different fates. While Westfield Shoppingtown Meriden (which we can still call Meriden Square) has gone through multiple expansions and evolutions since it's 1971 opening, the Meriden Mall, built before the Square, had a lesser unsuccessful fate in a more community-based downtown area. Needless to say, I suspected anyone talking about the “Meriden Mall” like on Dead Malls were talking about the only mall worth mentioning in Meriden which is the one I’ve been going to ever since I was a young’n.

Meriden Mall is comprised of now borded up, old storefronts. Cars on this heavily pot-holed lot are most likely for operating businesses across the street.

Not ever really having traversed the city of Meriden much in my day, I finally, after a week of slugging through rainy days, decided to go into the heart of Meriden and find out where the mall actually is since nowhere on the web gave an exact address. Coming back from the site, I might know why I had trouble finding any identity in the form of a street address.

Most of the glass which furnished the mall now in various, mostly shattered conditions.

Located on State Street and not very far from [quick escape access to] the practically Meriden-exclusive Interstate 691 was this heavily dilapidated former smaller enclosed mall relative to the now departed Farmington Valley Mall of Simsbury and the long troubled Bristol Centre Mall of Bristol. Built in the 1960’s, this mall shared a similar fate as most malls built around that time having lost now defunct anchors, or those who’ve moved to higher commerce slash more attractive retail centers. While the mall was far into a grave stage than recent dead smaller enclosed malls (which includes Bristol Centre, or the long gone Farmington Valley and Naugatuck Valley Malls which didn’t survive through the end of the 20th Century) the foundation and heavily pot-holed lot still exist among a sea of a rather bombed-out downtown Meriden. Not too recently I was in Bridgeport, and now I’m convinced Meriden is almost, if not, worse. I can probably go on for a little longer about the troubled cities of Connecticut but I’ll let the pictures tell it true.

The former owners of the mall; Canberra Industries and their headquarters now sitting empty and depleted of life beside the mall.

Without mirroring too much of what I’ve learned through Damas’ expose on Labelscar, the eyesore mall (also proclaimed the "brownfields") should’ve been razed years ago (along with most of the area) but nonetheless still stands amongst Meriden’s financial woes and inabilities to move on with the revitalization plan slated by our Governor. Now, it’s officially in the races to see which mall will rot and shame the streets longest; Bristol’s Centre Mall or Meriden’s completely borded up, condemned, long ill-fated mall to the flourishing nearby mall on the outskirts of this shifty city.

A housing project sitting beside the mall.

While there was no way to get or see inside, the Meriden Hub has some rather eerie, rather unyielding interior pictures on the city's website.

RAINBOW RADAR UPDATE: Mall completely demolished for forthcoming park revitalization project.


Anonymous said...

There was, back in 1997, a really good Chinese/Puerto Rican restaurant here called Wah-Wah Kitchen. I know the combination sounds quite strange, but the food was awesome! I worked in the SNET building down the road on Butler Street and would eat here often!

But I do remember this mall from the early 1970's when I'd visit family in Meriden as a child. There used to be a Grants nearby. I wonder if anyone will do a story on the old K-mart which used to be dow n the road in Wallingford on Route 5? There's a strip mall that has been dead for quite some time.

Really awesome website, I thank you so much for bringing back so many memories and for preserving that quintessential piece of Americana, Retail!!

Anonymous said...

I remember the Mall very well. I worked across the street in the Kennedy Bldg and our office Staff used to eat there every day. They had a Barker's Dept store, a Walgreens, A men's wearhouse Shop, movie theater, chinease resturant,liquar store,a few smaller shops, a landry mat, a dry cleaner, shoe store, a barber shop, and Canaberra Industries. They use to have a lunch cart that served hot lobster rolls that was incredibly delicious and to this day I can not find any one who even comes close to the taste of those lobster rolls. It slowly started to go downhill and today it no longer exists.