In recent times, Labelscar has gotten some fantastic submissions from readers, and this piece on the Salisbury Mall in Salisbury, Maryland is one of ‘em. CCMoore, a regular reader, sent us these notes and photos of the Salisbury Mall, which was displaced by a larger and newer center about 15 years ago. It seems that there’s increasing local pressure to raze the abandoned, derelict, and apparently somewhat crime-ridden mall site, so if you happen to be in the area, swing by and take a look before it’s too late. Without further ado, here’s what CC had to say:
“I’m only 26, so the Salisbury Mall predates me by about 12 years. I do, however, remember going there as a kid, and while it wasn’t the most exciting place to go in the early 90s, I have since come to appreciate its place in local Delmarva History.
I’ve done some research, so before I describe the malls current state, here’s a bit of history.
The Salisbury Mall opened on October 16, 1968 in Salisbury, Maryland. At the time it cost somewhere around $5 million to build, with $2 million invested in interior details and the parking lot. The land covers about 80 acres and the mall’s west wing spans about 1/10 of a mile. When it opened, it was anchored by two national chains, The
Hecht Co. and Sears. On its opening day only 16 of the 40 stores were ready for business and Miss America was on hand for the ribbon cutting.
I would imagine a place like the Salisbury Mall was a big deal in this area. Delaware and the eastern shore of Maryland aren’t exactly the most metropolitan of places. From the ads, Hecht’s especially seemed quite a showpiece. The mall also included a rather large McCrory’s and a Kinney’s Shoes.
The details from there are a bit sketchy. I’m still working out specifics, but this is what I know. The mall’s east wing was constructed in the mid-70s, which now made the mall in the shape of an H. The new section included another chain, Hutzler’s, a movie theater and more stores. The malls west section had a very classic look with pillared entrances where as the east section was more modern, though the entire building is made of white brick and stone.
The mall seemed to do fairly well into the 80s until a new mall, the Centre at Salisbury was built and opened in July of 1990. At that time both Sears and Hecht’s left, leaving both anchors empty, and they would remain that way. The west wing eventually emptied out and was closed off from the rest of the mall. I have been told the ceiling
leaked and the up-keep was far too expensive. Still the mall soldiered on. In around 1991 or 1992, there was a murder in the ladies bathroom which sent more business away.
As far as I know, Hutzler’s became Peebles and most of the stores left when their leases ran out. Some people tell me there were businesses in the mall up until about 2 years ago, but you wouldn’t ever know from the condition it is in.
I found it one night driving home from the beach and without any parking lot lights, it’s a scary sight at about midnight. It literally takes up about 2 or 3 blocks in a fairly urbanized section of the town. But within its perimeter, it’s just dead.
I have been there a few times. The west wing still looks like it did when it opened about 40 years ago, if you can look past the decay and age. There are plans to tear it down, which is a shame because the more I learn about it, the more I see how much history is contained within its walls.
I [have included these] pictures. I am working with some people to make a documentary about this mall and the surrounding area, because it really serves as a commentary on how fickle mall culture and commerce in general can be. About a mile
away is the city’s downtown district which felt the mall’s presence when most of its stores left for the new construction. Those same businesses then left the old mall when the new Centre was constructed. It’s very interesting and somewhat sad.”
Thanks again CC! Submissions like these are always welcome. As you might imagine, it’s *impossible* to be everywhere at once, and we’ve already missed tons of malls entirely. If you’ve got anything, we’d love to hear about it.
EDIT 8/19/2007: In the 10 months since we originally posted Chris’ photos and commentary, he’s been working on his own blog that’s entirely about the old Salisbury Mall. In addition to historic and current photos, he even has some shots of the interior, which is in a rather sad, Dixie Square-like state nowadays.