Meriden Square Mall (Westfield Meriden); Meriden, Connecticut

JCPenney at Meriden Square Mall in Meriden, CT

Long-time Labelscar readers may be curious to learn that one of the most popular malls in terms of search referral traffic to our site is the Meriden Mall, an abandoned and forlorn center located near downtown Meriden, Connecticut. I meant to post awhile back about its bigger neighbor, Meriden Square Mall–later re-christened “Westfield Meriden,” a regional mall that gave it a good beating, but I put it off. Why? Well, truth be told… we got a bit upstaged. You see, if you haven’t checked out The Caldor Rainbow, you should–it’s quite good. Not only did Nick, the site’s author (who is known to lurk around here and comment on our posts), have the good sense to name his site after the greatest dead discounter in history, but he also takes great photos and talks in depth about retail history goings-on in Connecticut. If that’s your bag, give him a click. Needless to say, he beat me to this one with a post about Westfield Meriden.

The Westfield Meriden Square Mall (which is not its proper name, but is rather a synthesis of its official name now and before Westfield stripped it away) serves a gap inbetween the New Haven and Hartford trade areas. The aging mill city of Meriden, located near the geographical center of the state of Connecticut, is near the crossroads of a handful of freeways about halfway between Hartford and New Haven. As both cities are comparatively undermalled and neither boasts an enclosed mall on the side closest to Meriden, it fills the void for a rather expansive and populous region.

Meriden Square Mall in Meriden, CTMeriden Square originally opened in 1971 as a rather simple and short two level mall connecting JCPenney and Hartford-based G. Fox department store. A large expansion in 1993 added a long, two-level wing ending at a Sears store and also included a brand new food court, creating a “T” shaped floorplan. In the mid-1990s, the entire G. Fox chain was converted to the Filene’s nameplate as a result of a merger, and in 2006 this store became a Macy’s. The mall was expanded again in an ambitious renovation announced in 1997 and completed in 1999. This expansion extended the second level (but not the first) out one side, so that the second level was shaped like a long cross and the first level remained a “T”. The new anchor, built opposite Sears, was Lord & Taylor, and opened as part of that chain’s over-ambitious late 1990s expansion. As part of this mall renovation, some changes were made inside and out, including the addition of a new parking deck outside of Sears. In an unusual twist, the mall’s new wing included a parking lot on the roof which is accessible via stairways leading down into the mall.

The Lord & Taylor store at Meriden Square was short-lived. Like many of the stores built by the poorly-branded chain in the late 1990s, it was somewhat ill-conceived from the start. Meriden Square isn’t located in a particularly upmarket area, and the mall itself is decidedly mid-range; Lord & Taylor drew the kind of shopper more commonly found at the nearby Westfarms Mall in West Hartford. The store closed in a wave of consolidations in 2003(ish), and has since been replaced by several big box stores including Dick’s Sporting Goods, Best Buy, and Borders. The mall concourse literally blasts into the original Lord & Taylor store, with the boxes falling to the sides of the expanded corridor. Note in the photos that the Dick’s Sporting Goods store has mostly retained the Lord & Taylor storefront!

Former Lord & Taylor at Meriden Square Mall in Meriden, CT

Since Westfield Meriden Square was built piecemeal in many different eras, it doesn’t have much of a unified theme… which is what makes it cool. Note that the short cross-wing between JCPenney and Filene’s is the oldest portion, and note also that each of those anchors shares a very strangely-designed mall facade. Also, give special attention of the exterior of the JCPenney store, which has some great old spaceship-looking architecture! These photos were all taken in July 2006, hence the continued presence of Filene’s signage.

Sears at Meriden Square Mall in Meriden, CT Sears at Meriden Square Mall in Meriden, CT Filene's at Meriden Square Mall in Meriden, CT

JCPenney at Meriden Square Mall in Meriden, CT Sears at Meriden Square Mall in Meriden, CT Food court at Meriden Square Mall in Meriden, CT

Food court at Meriden Square Mall in Meriden, CT Meriden Square Mall in Meriden, CT Meriden Square Mall in Meriden, CT Meriden Square Mall in Meriden, CT

Meriden Square Mall in Meriden, CT Meriden Square Mall in Meriden, CT Meriden Square Mall in Meriden, CT

25 Responses to “Meriden Square Mall (Westfield Meriden); Meriden, Connecticut”

  1. Good old [Westfield] Meriden Square. I’ll tell ya, this mall has grown over the years but even in it’s evolutions, there are still plenty of original/older vestigages. I did a recent report on my page about Meriden and put down some history. I recently went there last weekend and to my surprise, the new Borders is open! Anyway, good shots… I got shot down by security after just a few myself.

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  2. When was the Filene’s exterior rebuilt? It looks very late-’90s May Company, definately nothing like it would have looked back in the day

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    Allison Reply:

    @Steven Swain,
    The Filene’s exterior was re-done some time in the mid 90s. For most of my childhood that store was a G.Fox. The typical 80s G. Fox exterior was brown brick, with half circle windows/doors. In the early 90s before being bought out by Filene’s, the G. Fox store re-modeled to a more modern style that exists as Macy’s today.

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  3. Wow, the Sears store could use some new interior signage, I haven’t seen an all white Sears sign in ages.

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  4. There’s a lot I don’t know about the mall in it’s early years aside from the fact that it clobbered the forever doomed Meriden Mall and was a lone ranger in the 70′s even after Westfarms came in in 1974.

    All I can say is that that Filene’s is that is was probably renovated when the new wing came in the late 90′s. As far as I know, it was unchanged from it’s original G. Fox facade (vestige of it is inside). I’d also to say, this mall had a wonderful store from childhood called “Early Learning Center” which was on the Filene’s side (If memory serves me) which closed light years ago (OK, so early 1990s). The mall also had a Roy Rogers, one of the only eateries at the mall until the early 90′s.

    The jewerly store on the corner near CVS was a Cinnabon recently closed (in an attempt I guess) to match Westfield’s improved upper-scale image.

    The Meriden Square, as it was once known, and I have a lot of fine memories. Still can’t believe how much it has grown and adapted to the times (while still having relic 80′s design including neon night lights and geodesic domes in the main foyer). This is a fine example of Connecticut’s undermalled atmosphere – working with what you have and building on it while Meriden Mall is just another story of survival of the fittest in the retail scape.

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  5. Interesting how the JCPenney signage is used twice in front of the interior entrance to the store, one on each side of the 2nd floor. That’s a unique feature I’ve never seen in any other malls I’ve been to(or done by any other retailers, for this matter). Not to mention I’ve seen so many malls in my life where an upper level(s) has the 2 side walkways separated by much further distances apart!!

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    jhshifris Reply:

    @Allan, I also love that now and is it starting to be a Westfield thing?

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  6. If you look closely, you’ll note the same facade is used for the Filene’s store too. Those two anchors bound the original, 1971 wing of the mall so they probably matched as a style thing at the time. I agree that it’s one of the most unusual aspects of this mall!

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  7. Using two signs on the mall entrance was really big for a while. Belk and Leggett did it a lot for a short while, as did Ivey’s and Lord & Taylor (L&T did it a lot on their newer stores)

    A JCPenney store in North Carolina that I frequent started out with one sign in the center of the mall entrance but changed to two signs on the side when an escalator bank was constructed that blocked the sign. In fact, all three anchors at this mall had double mall entrance signs at one point or another.

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  8. Awesome mall. I’ll have to check it sometime. Also, feel free to check out my new blog as well: retail-stories.blogspot.com. It only has one post so far, but I’m hoping to have ti grow fast. Feel free to submit any content you want.

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  9. Does anyone include “westfield” in the name of a Westfield-owned mall? I read with their opening of Westfield San Francisco Center that Westfield wants people to say “I’m going to the Westfield.” That way, we can use that phrase anywhere in Westfield territory. I wonder if it’ll work. Back when malls changing their names from “blah blah Mall” to “blah blah Shopping Center” or worse yet, “The Shops at Blah Blah,” they didn’t fool anyone.
    Scott

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  10. As you can see the road pilon on my page, they still call it Westfield Shoppingtown (Meriden). Appearently, “Shoppingtown” has been dumped from Westfield’s image after customers’ expressing dislike of it. Maybe they can give back the mall it’s real name “Meriden Square”.

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  11. I’ve mentioned before on this site how I have a strong dislike for the Westfield branding on all of their malls. Too frequently, people criticize malls for their blandness, the way they present a homogenized version of America in every town. As a shopping mall enthusiast, I disagree that this needs to be the case, but Westfield’s misguided attempt at unified branding completely embraces homogenization, removing any semblence of “ownership” that a community may enjoy over its local shopping mall. I’m glad they realized that “Shoppingtown” was a bad idea, but they shoudl eliminate the naming and logos altogether and revert to unique brand identities for each of their centers.

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  12. I can’t believe how much it’s changed over the years – but it’s definitely has a certain customer base, especially since eliminating Eddie Bauer, The Gap, Children’s Gap and Lord & Taylor. Kind of Ho-Hum.

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  13. The Filene’s went under and extensive renovation/remodle around 1993 just after it absorbed the G.Fox banner. The area of the store that is now devoted to menswear and accessories/handbags is part of the newer expansion. The original exterior entrances were similar in architechtural detail to those in Enfield Square, with the cement archway.

    The Sears store is a combination of 2 local closings. A full line 2 level store once in Middletown and a 3 level full line store once in Hamden both were closed and the Meriden location was built. That Penney’s has been that was since I can remember. To me its dull, boring and unexciting in every way imaginable. Finally, the last thing that CT needed was yet ANOTHER Lord & Taylor, especially one that was only one level and so small in size. I was surprised that they lasted as long as they did.

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  14. What time is mall open till?

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  15. I did some research on Meriden Square recently and I’ll have you know this place was quite the darling in its day. I took photos of the newspaper articles I found at the Meriden Public Library. For the record, the original double corridors have not been renovated since 1988 which marked the mall’s first full-fledged renovation effort.

    Check the gallery out here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/10073060@N00/sets/72157600612417711/

    Extending on about the exterior look of G. Fox, the Meriden store had smaller, but protuding arch canopies over the entrance ways but not nearly to the same bizarre edge of Enfield Square which had arching motifs over the entrances. Both store branches were completed in 1971 and both malls were owned by the same developers.

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  16. Oh wow! That’s amazing!!! Thanks for the heads-up!

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  17. Too bad the Disney Store will be closing by the end of spring 2008. That was a great store! Westfield Meriden needs to attract more quality permanent retailers to fill the currently and soon to be vacant leasable areas. Perhaps Westfield can win back previous tenants such as the Gap and Disney. Mrs Fields Cookies is a example of that success that should be repeated.

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  18. Went to this mall last week (December 2010) and all stores seem to be doing good and busy. Found it weird that parts of the mall weren’t 2 full levels, like the old l+t wing, now a best buy, dicks, borders wing. That wing has a great playarea for kids and is the biggest in a mall around here that i have found. The Best buy seems really small and even out of place, but i’m not compaining.They also have a train that runs the entire 2nd floor of the mall and is big enough for adults to fit in too, but is $3 a head to ride :) Looks like this mall is here to stay for awhile!

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  19. Is the train permanent, just set up for the holidays?

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  20. It’s permanent. (or as permanent as anything in a mall is). It’s been there since summer.

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  21. When I was growing up in my late adolescence/ early manhood in the 1970′s (yeah—I’m really that old,dude!), Meridan Square Mall was a regular shopping palace for my family & I. We all had our regular shops staked out (Mom & sometimes Dad, whenever he had the night off from work, would patrol G.Fox for clothes,etc, while I regularly haunted Record World,as they carried scads of imported vinyl lp’s from around various parts of Europe,etc,and would also drop in at the Radio Shack directly next door for my various electronic goodies). After meeting up at the usual designated place, the three (or sometimes more,as various other family members would occasionally join us), would head on over either to Friendly’s,or the local Italian eatery for post buying frenzy eats. Good times,indeed!

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  22. With the increasing larger space of Dick’s, I imagine the Borders space will be either swallowed by Dick’s Sporting Goods or become a Barnes & Noble.

    RIP.

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  23. There’s a slew of blown-up wall decal-ish “historic” pictures of the mall in the security hallway from the 70s, 80s and mostly 90s featuring many tenant shots I remember as a kid. It’s amazing how much of a change this mall went through from its 1971 era to the 1988 remodel. I’m looking to go back and get those pictures. Is this a Westfield-wide thing? Go check your local Westfield mall!

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