Monday, April 30, 2007

Eastfield Mall; Springfield, Massachusetts


Continuing what we've decided to proclaim our malls of(f) I-91 series beginning last week with Hampshire Mall, we've decided to present another of the few malls located on or around I-91, weekly in conjunction with procrastination and Spring, a time for rejuvenation! So it's Spring and just about time to unveil another gem located in the state's southern metropolis, Springfield with Eastfield Mall!

Eastfield Mall opened in 1968 and was the earliest indoor shopping mall in the region containing three major anchors, a handful of shops and a twin-screen movie theater. Today, the mall contains three filled anchors; JCPenney Outlet Store, Macy's and Sears, a larger Showcase Cinemas movie theater, food court, chain restaurants, a few junior anchors and claims 85 stores and was purchased in 1997 by its current owners, MDC Retail Properties Group.

Located within the Easternmost region of Springfield, along Boston Road/US-20,
the city's self-proclaimed "Boston Road Shopping District" and on the brink of smalltown Wilbraham, the area consists of a retail and related business corridor who found its identity within the fallout of an eventual collapsed business bleeding out of central Springfield. Eastfield Mall began large and in-charge, serving most the suburban portions of Springfield offering three prime anchors; (Albert) Steiger's, Forbes & Wallace, and Sears; who remains authentically vestigial to this day.


EASTFIELD MALL ANCHORS (LEFT TO RIGHT): JCPENNEY OUTLET STORE, MACY'S, AND SEARS

Like many of these smaller shopping malls who never pursued become mammoth status, Eastfield Mall accepted its fate to the changing market of the malls and interstate vitality located well off major Interstates: I-91, I-291, and I-90 (Mass Pike), along US-20. Almost damned to become enemies to future malls, Eastfield continues to do well despite it having fallen on hard times, managed to rebound, and stays closely in-touch with the community and flourishes today with much thanks to the extraction of the downtown marketplace, trickling onto and around Eastfield territory.

To get an idea where all of Springfield-area malls stand today, let's look at a brief history of the area.

A few years after Eastfield Mall established, another mall, Baystate West came about in 1970 as a downtown mall in the heart of the city whose frontage faces millions of motorists along Interstate 91 and grandiose retail showplace (or, what was commonplace definition for mall then) for the city. During the decade, more malls began to pop up shortly after; Enfield Square opened in 1971 with its corridor-length mall right over the Massachusetts border in Enfield, Connecticut with like prestigious anchors Hartford-based G. Fox and Steiger's. In many regards, Springfield, the city, shared (mal)success and has followed dreadfully with neighborly city Hartford, and its own troubles with maintaining the vitality in its own failed city mall built after this one, The Civic Center Mall.

Unfortunately, Baystate West, once a prominent indoor shopping mall, has since collapsed due to its prime anchors becoming bankrupt or other mall developers stealing the thunder of Springfield's since declined industry by pulling in power players, reconfigured and became diminished to just a handful of stores, a food court, fine restaurants, and mostly office space under the new name: Tower Square.


No doubt the elegant Baystate West trumped or largely challenged Eastfield Mall, which was once a palace of wonder, and a pride of its day right on the city limits of West Springfield (later known as the host of The Big E), but both shared the same challenge in 1975, when major anchor and Springfield-originated Forbes & Wallace shuttered all its locations when they became bankrupt, leaving many empty spaces at all the malls in the area including one newly-established locations at a 1974-built smaller enclosed Fairfield Mall in Chicopee (which could be considered the legendary darling small indoor mall for us northeasterners with its once rainbow-era lifetime Caldor and Bradlees anchors in its latest days), just miles away. Eventually, spaces were filled at both malls quickly, causing for a steadfast rebound all around.

By the mid 1970s, the greater Springfield region became, understatedly, overmalled in what contested for a survival of the fittest situation of our time! So why not just blame The Pyramid Companies' for building Holyoke Mall?!

When it comes to tentant selection, Eastfield Mall is relatively bland and homogenized like most malls, but doesn't entirely feel like it because of the humble looks of it. Surpassing the somewhat nearby, underdeveloped Enfield Square in Connecticut (whose website creates a facade of image), a megaton nearby Holyoke Mall at Ingleside, who came in 1979 and quickly determined the shape of all the region's nearby malls soaking up the landscape, pulling in people from hours away with it's unstoppable, growing volume, appeal and continual success to this day.


A TYPICAL CORRI-DECOR-IOR LINED WITH FOILAGE AT EASTFIELD MALL HAVING A FEW CHARMING SURPRISES WITHIN

Over at Eastfield Mall, there are fewer interesting, unique stores surviving here that you won't find over at Holyoke Mall, but like the Holyoke Mall, as the days go on, not many more. Those who appear to be hanging in there like Batteries Included; an indie Radio Shack type, and sadly, a recently departed gem of a comic book/collector store are becoming liquidated with the heavily conformist merchants at most of the malls, bleeding onto these centers squeezed by heftily performing rivals along the I-91 corridor and around areas.

These stores, many of which left or didn't fit into Holyoke Mall and its recent metamorphosis of seeking to focus onto upper-class tenant homogeny, make Eastfield a charming atmosphere apart the usual bombast of Holyoke Mall. However, don't write it off just yet. To us enthusiasts, Eastfield Mall should be considered special apart from the mediocrity-driven, supplemental tenants, most of which can be found at all the other malls around 91.

So, I'll admit, I'd rather do my shopping over at a generally better center like Holyoke Mall, but when it comes to long-phased architectural vestiges and interesting touches here and there, Eastfield Mall has a lot still in tact to appreciate, not that Holyoke Mall doesn't but come on, this was a 60's mall!

ANCHOR HISTORY

FORBES & WALLACE; 1968-1975, became JCPENNEY OUTLET STORE; 1975-CURRENT
STEIGER'S; 1968-1994, became FILENE'S; 1994-2006, became MACY'S; 2006-CURRENT
SEARS;
1968-CURRENT
EASTFIELD MALL CINEMAS; 1968-mid-1980s; replaced for FOOD COURT
SHOWCASE CINEMAS; 2000-CURRENT; replaced parking lot




VINTAGE "SEARS, ROEBUCK & CO." LOGO ABOVE THE DOORS

If there's any reason to pine over Eastfield Mall, it's all about this old-fashioned, stucco-faced and brick constructed Sears who looks in part much like a fellow obsession over at The Mall at Whitney Field (formerly Searstown Mall), not having changed too much more than the generational signage out front. Apart from a vintage store; one-level (excluding basement) interior with high ceilings department stores used to be all about and a staircase to the basement, which is eerily like stepping right back in time even just to go to the bathrooms.



There's also some shuttered entrance around back of the store in some dank corner, seemingly sealed off and forgotten with a faded sign. Could it have been a former entrance? Showroom window? Merchandise pick-up? A cafe, perhaps?




Steiger's; since become Macy's has its own interesting court and surrounding area. While tiling has seen the brunt of the later renovation, gaudy drapes still mask themselves over skylight glass panes above. Next to the entrance, you'll find some spiffy old-fashioned showcase display protrusions.

Forbes & Wallace; currently (and since closure) a JCPenney Outlet Store. An Outlet Store?! I thought all JCPenney were outlets! Jokes and bias aside, Eastfield Mall has the only one of its kind (that I've ever heard of at least), in something of a rich, vintage husk from the earlier anchor with a humped scaffolding over the sidewalk. Interestingly enough, the mall's amazingly flourished court doesn't don the "Outlet" identity; perhaps a bygone trend later phased, now simply calling it JCPenney mallside.


While two of those three original anchors are gone, like many shopping malls shaped by the various department store Pac-Mans adhering to a long-gone May (and Federated for that matter) Companies, their building origins are still mostly there, not having succumbed to cookie-cutter designs of today beyond some minor facade touch-ups and usual paint coats.

It's believed Eastfield Mall has undergone two significant renovation periods; one profound one in the mid-1980's and one minimalist one in the later 1990's, presumably in 1997 when the mall signed on with the new ownership. Ultimately, the mall appears to have a spackle of times stained all about.

And Huey Lewis and the News said it best; It's hip to be square!

Decor, in and out, remains to hearken back at Eastfield Mall whether it be original or later eras, including a decidedly 1980's-inspired set featuring neons galore. Throughout, the mall adheres to a square-theme along it's humble, little-altered-with-time "L-shaped" layout which has been toyed very little with over the years. Containing variously placed and sized square-shaped courts with vertical paned skylights, presumably from the 1960's mold, with later added neon square hoverings along the lower-ceilings of tight, often dimly-contrasted corridors and an array of ramps and steps which could remind Connecticut natives of one Crystal Mall in Waterford.


A FOUNTAIN NO MORE: INSTEAD FOLD-OUT CHAIRS AND TABLES ARE SET FOR COMMUNITY-RELATED EVENTS OR A CRUDE DEPICTION OF A JEDI COUNCIL RE-ENACT FROM STAR WARS WITH ACCENTUATING DECOR ABOVE IT.

The central atrium is something of a small-time marvel, or at least shows it was.

Today, the court retains itself, however altered quite a bit cosmetically over the times with a square-shaped concourse containing a grandiose fan-blade drape arrangement which covers the entirety of the central's heights, creating a nice interrogation room-style contrast upon those peak sunlight hours whereby it showers skylight. Bizarre, simple but stripped display was likely the product of the mid-80's liquidation and entry to a blandness-uninspired renovation which scaled down the showcase from a once festive gazebo court as seen in a wayback photo from 1970, which Malls of America hosted a while back. Once including a larger fountain and a jungle-centric look evident from the historic image, was later decimated during a later renovation to a relatively small sprouting fountain feature(ette) in the center, followed by the addition of a food court behind it, added during the 1980's period renovation.


ALTHOUGH TONED-DOWN, YOU GOTTA LOVE EASTFIELD MALL'S UNIQUE CEILING FAN-BLADE DRAPE ACCENT.

Following that renovation around the 80's, which sought to remove many overdue yesteryear trends; including those darker colors, wood-paneling, the gazebo itself, marquee bulb lights, and various ramps across the central, any vestige of a fountain display has been shelved ever so recently and is rarely if at all operative today. The concourse has sadly been scaled back and is now largely absent apart cafe-style seating, and meager porta-planters, mainly used for community events.

In addition, the basic "L-shaped" layout hasn't changed much over the years with the [typical] addition of adding a food court in the 80's, replacing an aging two-screen movie theater right at the L-split, adjacent the concourse.

During a millennial rebound, the mall sought to reinstate the theater concept that took command of most centers in the 60s and 70s it had birthed with by adding a 16-screen Showcase Cinema to the mall's rear, replacing much underused parking area in 2000 further setting Eastfield apart from nearby Holyoke Mall, who does not contain a theater and keeping it competitive with a rather distant Enfield Square, who also has a [smaller] theater. The mall also adopted junior anchor clothier, Old Navy, who drove out of Holyoke Mall by the rebound period as well as Steve & Berry's.

In spite of times changing, there's plenty to look back on today like the JCPenney court area which adheres to a quaint, park-esque setting of mass foliage, vintage stone frontage, and more of those hanging square lights. So much, in that you can barely get a nice view of the entrance without being blinded by the landscaping. The corridors also contain lined planters along the ramps and stairs, maintaining that quint feeling of man's inability to deny nature, albeit faux nature. A nice contrast, especially in such malls today who seek to strip almost every vestige of water features and fake plants for uncomfortable steel bench seating and portable planters, Eastfield Mall isn't entirely lobotomized yet.

The last few times we visited, we couldn't secure any interior photos with my conventional, subcompact digital camera for fear of being hurled out of the mall. As you may or may not know, this mall takes its written anti-photography policy seriously and has an overstock of looming security and police officers to make sure you don't! Actually, they've been drafted in response to Springfield's known riff-raf also to coincide with the YEP (Youth Escort Policy) rule whereby minors must be accompanied by adults after specific hours on weeknights to tone down the usual unruly teen crowds at malls but also in the area.

Luckilly, upon a recent visit to Eastfield this past week, we managed to score a congratulatory gob of images in a largely underpatrolled interior enough to capture the essence of a mall I've been dying to document for some time now. On another, rather funny note, anyone whose been here a few times will know of the security SUV who stakes out, flashing-lights wildly next to the mall's undeniably rad (neon-crazed) road pylon.

Make sure you visit their homely, unique, slightly outdated website where you can see an older Showcase Cinema logo and past anchor Filene's still on the roster apart from some of their other quirks like their inability to settle with one corny tagline and celebrity appearances from town and out-of-town!

Furthermore, if any locals or those with historic perspective regarding Eastfield Mall would like to chime in and shed some light on questions we have, like specific renovation dates, what this place was like then, or anything, let us know!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Hampshire Mall; Hadley, Massachusetts


Ever since those guys over at Dead Malls did a report on a few rivaling Hadley area malls a couple years back; Hampshire Mall and nearby Mountain Farms, I deemed to do a full-scale updated report on them both myself. As the months kept scaling back, it was apparent that Mountain Farms had turned inside out, so I then put my focus on Hampshire Mall, which was always my original focal point after viewing such alluring images.

I originally made to Hadley half a year ago, time cramped, unable to do the job. Factoring in my frequent trips up I-91, it was decided when weather was finer, to do a true, much deserved expose on a gem of a mall for a few, particular interesting reasons you'll discover, nestled outside the bounds of space-time in Hadley, Massachusetts.

Hampshire Mall opened in 1978 by Pyramid Companies, in the small college-farming town of Hadley, Massachusetts within Hampshire County (granted the namesake) and in between "affluent towns Amherst and Northampton".
It's located on MA-9; on Russell Street, about four miles off Interstate 91. The center is adherent to the basic interior today [imposed by town bylaw to stay below 42 feet and at] one-level, with a boomerang-shaped layout originally containing two major anchors on opposite ends. Being the only recognized indoor mall in the county and within a good atom-bomb blast in a many mile radius outside, seemed only necessary to deem it Hampshire(‘s) Mall.

Several years after Hampshire Mall, Pyramid Companies finished construction on its kingpin; Holyoke Mall at Ingleside and what’s now the dominant servant in regional malls for miles along the Northeast I-91 corridor.

Owning two malls within approximately 15 miles away? Shooting themselves in the foot? Not quite.

As a matter of fact, both malls fates have depended and survived largely based upon them serving their niche markets and the spectrum in demographic. Though it seems the gap is closing in as Holyoke Mall just seems like the better choice unless you're looking for local digs; which is exactly what factors into keeping Hampshire Mall vital today.

As an outsider, you’ll almost have to have stumbled upon Hampshire Mall if you’re not integrated into the nearby area, unlike Holyoke Mall whose megaphone regional-status visibly rises over the highway like bloody sunrise. You won’t find Hampshire Mall entirely easily accessible off Interstate 91, but instead, you'll trail about four miles off the highway, on Hadley's rather cramped MA-9. As we all know, lack of interstate access usually cripples the fate of malls who survive solely on their interstate arteries to garner mainstream traffic.


Serving the surrounding areas is what they do, which has grown much over the years due to the mall’s [somewhat isolated] presence, Hadley has also been designated the shopping district shotgun to nearby Northampton and US-5 (King Street), whose patronage is also mostly influenced today by droves of an overwhelming "Five Colleges" population; University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass), Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, Amherst College and Smith College.

More than ever, the mall keeps in lock-step with not only the college town mold with its decidedly "discount" and trend bend but also the humble nature of the towns and surroundings like originally proposed, keeping things outside the bounds of neighboring juggernaut Holyoke Mall. After all, Hadley is a town consisting mostly of homebrewed business (some of which are frighteningly abandoned) and as-far-as-the-eye-can-see-farmlands which includes the breeding of pine trees.

Hampshire Mall, unlike its younger brother Holyoke Mall, serves today as more of a supplement to Holyoke Mall, while not originally intended, this one passes for a quaint, local indoor shopping mall who could only have concepted in 1978 whose original anchors were clothiers; Steiger’s, JCPenney, a discounter Kmart and a 6-screen Movie Theater. Today, the focus has changed with the market but sticking largely intact with the original offerings of discount-centric, trendy selections of stores. Luckilly, there aren't any contenders beyond northbound for many miles, so the mall is able to control the area.

ANCHOR HISTORY

JCPENNEY; 1978-CURRENT
STEIGER'S; 1978-1994, became MEDIA PLAY; 1994-2005, demolished; subdivided into exterior-access only BEST BUY; 2005-CURRENT, and interior only parcels; AMERICAN EAGLE OUTFITTERS, PAC-SUN and STEVE & BERRY'S UNIVERSITY SPORTSWEAR; 2006-CURRENT
KMART; 1978-2002, demolished; became expanded exterior-access only TARGET; 2003-CURRENT
HAMPSHIRE SIX THEATER; 1978-1999, became expanded 12-screen CINEMARK; 2000-CURRENT
DICK'S SPORTING GOODS; former REX TV, CVS/pharmacy closed 2002 (unconfirmed)



JCPENNEY SIDE ENTRANCE COMPLETE WITH ROCKFACE FACADE

Steiger’s closed when the May Company shuttered the Springfield, Massachusetts-based chain in March 1994 gaving way to Media Play, a once beloved Sunday afternoon time-trap dealing with everything from video games to books to movies which finally shuttered all remaining scrap locations of its brand in 2005 and as part of parent company Trans World Entertainment's centric branding of all existing stores as "f.y.e.".

Meanwhile, the mall's other anchor Kmart almost instantaneously drafted plans to expand their existing store an additional 25,000 square feet. Unfortunately
, it wasn't soon later before Kmart finally closed its doors after 24 years in 2002 trailing the company's various post-millennial cutbacks. The space, almost immediately up for grabs was proposed to accommodate today's big box-centric, discount market by adding appealing, trendy Target (no complaints here, admittedly better than Kmart), whose nature has saved many staggering centers built in the 70's small mall boom-era. Undoubtably, the move was picture perfect to battle it out with Wal-Mart, who was opening across the street, originally planned to boost Mountain Farms.

The 6-screen Hampshire Six Theater was replaced by Cinemark on November 22, 2000; a size-doubled 12-screen stadium-seating theater, originally slated in 1998 to include 24 screens, then bogged down to 16 and finally 12, to replace an aging, faltering theater which was under prolonged negotiations from the late 1990's, finally completed in 2000. The former, was once drafted to compete, which it did and helped quickly seal a ghastly (in final years of its life) AMC Mountain Farms Four Theater next door, which the Dead Malls crew also managed to snag photos of before the clearing shortly after the millennial bend.


A RENOVATED MALL ENTRANCE ADJACENT TO THE GROUND ROUND

Ever since Hampshire Mall began, developers over at a neighboring development, Mountain Farms, have been at it trying to trump Pyramid's spotlight into becoming the premiere center for the area, seeing as the two where isolated, neighborly rivals for miles. But it was always Pyramid that was bringing people in while many shifts over at Mountain Farms kept it troubled with on-and-off vacancies for decades. Today, that's almost flipped around where as Hampshire Mall's minor, mostly cosmetic agings are slowly passing the torch to Mountain Farms, anchored by the ever-crippling Wal-Mart.

Following a wave of reprisal by Mountain Farms, Pyramid proposed their own expansion in 1998 for their Hampshire Mall in response to nearby notorious long-struggling Mountain Farms; whose reprisal drafted for a vastly expanded outdoor lifestyle center. In today's world, the lifestyle homogenization is just enough to threaten the lives of any aging, indoor mall enough to scare it inside out (quite literally)! Pyramid had a plan; to partially give in to the enemy to keep things hot and competitive with a trend of lifeless lifestyle adaptations which aren't going away anytime soon. Unfortunately, an expansion sought to include a 16-screen theater and another anchor, Sears, which was only overzealously hoped but was scaled back to just an expanded theater.

To get an idea of the fierce battle between Hampshire Mall (right) Vs. Mountain Farms (left), you must understand how close these guys are to each other. As you can see, Google Maps doesn't recognize Mountain Farms as a mall (to the left of Hampshire Mall via the map), even though it once was indoor, but not quite to the scale of Hampshire Mall. (Courtesy: Google Maps)

Following the demise of K-Mart in 2002, and pressures to conform to the nearby, vastly developing Mountain Farms, Pyramid quickly signed on for the mall to undergo a lifestyle-oriented expansion, seeking to add trendy, discount anchors before their rivals could snatch 'em up.
Target ended up replacing, demolishing a further expanding the ghost of a short-lived K-Mart. Best Buy replaced a fallen Media Play in 2005 (when that arm of Musicland chain finally folded) and Dick's Sporting Goods; whose placement developed within a newly-etched corridor, in the shadow of departed stores whose access extends to both in and out of the mall unlike the others.

Inexplicably, this Target (and Best Buy) doesn't open into the mall like past anchors once did, and like their store over at Holyoke Mall and other, comparable sized Pyramid Mall of Ithaca (also known as Triphammer Mall) does. Still, it's not unlike the Target Corporation today to build stores disassociated to malls they serve at. At one point in time, discount department stores would require interior only access, to cut down on thievery while today the store's would rather keep things on a micro level.


DICK'S SPORTING GOODS WING SPORTS TILES THE REST OF THE MALL WISHES IT HAD.

Recently, the mall has decided to anchor other trends at malls in recent years with hopes to attract an exuberant influx of college demographic adding other homogenous chain clothiers American Eagle Outfitters and Pac-Sun to contrast to the mall's otherwise left-behind decor. Ever so recently, Steve & Barry's University Sportswear, whose presence is popping up at many regional malls, has opened next to them, across the center court.


A WHITE-WALLED TARGET WING DISPLAYS AN ENORMOUS PLEXIGLAS LOGO SUGGESTING CUSTOMERS WALK OUTSIDE AND AROUND TO ACCESS THE STORE.

While the mall has been through a lot over the years, it certainly doesn't look like it's changed with those times--in part. Hampshire Mall is stuck in a rut; as well as within the bounds of adhering to a twilight of times whose decor and a handful of dark storefronts keeps it nestled within the disco-ball realm of 1978, struggling to see the white light of the 2000s.


THE JCPENNEY WING, AND A VENTURE BACK IN TIME

Pyramid malls have become synonymous in their category with leftover centers built around the 1970s which hearken back into those realms today. Like many other Pyramid, the company's suspected financial tight spots have largely halted their attempts to modernize many aging centers built around the 70's including Sangertown Square in New Hartford, New York to which it mirrors according to an Ames Fan Club poster. Aviation Mall in Queensbury, New York; a mall whose Bon-Ton (former Caldor) court is legendary among the Pyramid malls, comparable to Hampshire Mall's JCPenney court, and even the nearby regional mammoth Holyoke Mall, you're in for, at best, something of a timewarp experience.

Because of the companies woes, the company has even aborted the scale of expansion projects, like one proposed at Aviation Mall, and left many older amenities inside the malls. Like the others, architectural treats at Hampshire Mall will feed the need to shop at the same mall with the same amenities your parents might've had in their time--and they've basically keep it all the same! Just for you!

From trends long past, something of a wooden-trimmed, globe-lit, hexagonal-themed, brown-draped paradise exists in a dimly-lit shadow realm of where ever you came from. While not scaled quite like its neighborly brother Holyoke Mall, Hampshire Mall exceeds the bounds of grandiose, expressively themed design centered around decadent Euro influence that seems to have been a mainstream influence in much 1970's design (although none of those Italianesque aqueducts are to be found). Heck, even their arbor tree logo, presumably original, is plenty groovin'!

So take an odyssey into the past, right here at Hadley, Mass!


THE MAJESTIC, GROOVIN' JCPENNEY COURT AT HAMPSHIRE MALL, TAKEN IN 2007!

Visuals must express the unique vibe Hampshire Mall gives; it's a marveling historic experience that makes the mall, beyond the purpose of shopping, a true museum for the charm and bombastic showcase malls once were all about rich, flavorful and experimentative nature of the 1970's. Enthusiasts looking for an interesting experience are urged to make a hours-length pilgramage to Hadley, if for anything, for the incredible JCPenney court which bleeds to for post card imagery.

That's only until you've seen the food court. Not just a food court but one that contains a stage, "Laster Storm" laser tag facility, "Interskate 91" roller skate rink which circles and balconies around almost entirely over the mall's central!


The court itself is modeled after a country flair of New Orleans-style heritage complete with a faux-forced perspective cityscapes, with silhouette wooden cut-outs of trumpet players atop the second-story windows with accentuated neon-expressives coming out the ends of the brass instruments (like frickin' laser beams!). Meshed with the amentites of a European cafe-court, in the center lays a grandiose multi-tiered fountain structure, which has sadly, but not entirely disappointingly since become sterlized as a planter display.


A MARVELOUS CENTER COURT DISPLAY AND HOLYOKE MALL-MIRRORED SEATING


MYSTERIOUS OVERLOOK WALKWAYS ABOVE ENTRANCES

It's a busy scene almost indescrible, even when the quaint setting is largely absent of people, the mall manages to create an atmosphere always ready to put on a grand show. Certainly, this is a unique atmosphere vacant from many malls of today. There's also something of an upstairs portion, along with other visible nooks and crannies in the central. While I attempted to get up there, I ended up running into a set of closed doors, and mall office hallways, unable to find the passages to a pair of mysterious walkways over the theater entrances.

Behind the Cafe Square is Cinemark, whose managed to stay associated with the mall, with two entrances on both ends for those who simply want to slip in for the theaters.

No, they sure don't make them like this; heavily-themed and equally bizarre, anymore.

Sadly, most of the rest of the mall has a bit of a scarsity problem coupled with many vacant, aged storefronts towards and around the JCPenney sector. The revolution of mall kiosks (and cellular peddlers) have remedied that in part, but all the side corridors stay mostly empty or walled off, like the Target wing, which dons the chain's logo against a whitewall instead of an entrance as you won't be able
to access from the mall itself.

As I cautiously wandered the chrono corridors, I was awaiting the vision of an apparition Rod Sterling, welcoming me into a starfield-draped realm, better known as The Twilight Zone within the dark hollows of Hampshire Mall.

Time just seems to roll back as you make it closer to JCPenney, you'll notice the neglect at first hand: lower ceilings, vacancies, often dark spots and "UFO" blub-equipped hexagon crafts hovering over typically Pyramid uncomfortable wooden seating planters, streetlight globe lighting (though a few have been removed from the JCPenney area), and bizarre floor-emerging, tiled planters dressed in brown. All around the mall features assorted wayback flooring too; glazed cobblestone tiles contrasting with terrazzo hex-tiles both of which plenty shaded in lighter browns and random spots of carpeting, unmistakenly 70's. Oh, and you can't forget the Pyramid-seal wooden-draped fantasy which extends to even the trash recepticles, like one evident over at Holyoke Mall.

You'll also find another wormhole marvel adjacent JCPenney: The Ground Round; a restaurant chain who appears to be just hanging on in Massachusetts, having almost completely vacated neighboring Connecticut with recent closures found in the homestate itself; Stoneham and Springfield to name a few.


HALF OF HAMPSHIRE MALL ADHERES TO BIG BOX INVASION

Exterior the mall is quite the same story, one that adheres to mismatched-eras, and forgotten against today's largely soulless design. A facade whose look complements the big box age with the homogeny of Dick's, Target, and Best Buy unmistakably mirror each other all across the land while the other half, JCPenney, gives a window back into earlier times with leftover half-hexagon scaffolds over the entrances; the very same ones which also onced hovered over other parts of the original anchors before the big box expansion efforts in the recent years.

There's more vestigial charm to be found around back with a commonly aged glass-skylight covering, which must be a few decades old, over the Cafe Square entrances adjacent to an expanded Cinemark. Behind Target you've got some forgotten vacant storefront next to Jo-Ann Fabrics and its own oddly-placed outside access.

Throughout at least half of the exterior, mostly extending around JCPenney, the mall appears to have had a ripple-plated theme adherent to what's left on JCPenney, who may have influenced the original design of the mall's exterior, has since been two-tone painted; oddly-justified pair of clay and tan hues contrasted from an otherwise interesting combo on a facade who resembles one seen at Arnot Mall in Horseheads, New York.

Hampshire Mall has also benefitted well by clustering, placing a newly-built Trader Joe's on the outskirts of the mall's lot who contrasts well with the Whole Foods Market over in Mountain Farms.

Doing a News Library search on the mall turns up some interesting bits; talks of an early expansion in 1991 to bring in a "fourth anchor", possibly uncovering the two stores;
Rex TV and CVS, who eventually made way for Dick's. There sheds some light on the mall's flourished center court display once holding true to fountain origins as the report leads one to suppose an E. Coli outbreak in the water supply sealed its fate around 1997.

Around the time of the late '90s expansion efforts, Sears was proposed for the mall, but never happened along with adaptation of the proposed 16-screened theater (which eventually became 12), likely due to the company's own inability to expand to unnecessary markets and proximity to the Holyoke [Mall], and decades-old Eastfield Mall locations. There's even a report of a brutal stabbing, where such related yet isolated crimes are sadly not alien within the histories of many malls.

If there’s ever a reason to chug off course to Hampshire Mall, it’s all about the d├ęcor; and not much has changed since ’78. This mall is a classic, a gem and a quintessential Pyramid mall and portfolio for the feel of a one such mall built in the late ‘70s.
In the end, we decided not to shoot any of Moutain Farms; if you've seen one cookie-cutter lifestyle clone, you've surely seen them all.

Go check it out before Pyramid Companies reads this and decides to paint the entire place over in a rush of brights! Until then, gander the complete photo album of Hampshire Mall.

As an added bonus, we found the original AMC Moutain Farms 4 Theaters sign, circa late 1970's, is still standing! The Dead Malls crew shot this one upon its last days, as seen on their Mountain Farms page. I almost felt bad for this lonely forgotten relic, who toppled under Cinemark in 2001. While the theater itself is history, once accessible from inside the now-demolished indoor portion, the pylon stands, sharing a current backdrop to the vastly expanded big box center today. Part of me wants to urge the developers to put it out of its misery, while it's an amazing, lost artifact from times long gone, nestled in the greens.

THE CALDOR RAINBOW SEEKS TO KEEP THE RECORD STRAIGHT. IF WE'VE REPORTED ANY ERRONEOUS INFORMATION, LAY DOWN A COMMENT OR CONTACT ME VIA XISMZERO@YAHOO.COM FOR CORRECTIONS. ADDITIONALLY, WE ALSO HOPE YOU WOULD PROVIDE YOUR OWN COMMENTARIES AND GENERAL COMMENTS.

EDIT: June 10, 2007; ANCHOR HISTORY edited, cleared up thanks to a few posters including MIKE I.