A few days back, I posted about the now-dead Worcester Common Outlets in downtown Worcester. I feel that it’s more interesting to post about malls in metropolitan area groups, which brings us to discuss the other (less dramatic) malls serving the Worcester metropolitan area.
Except for one big “but.” The Worcester Common wasn’t exactly done in by any of its suburban cousins, because by and large the other malls are just not all that big. Depending on how you define the Worcester metropolitan area, Worcester Common was arguably even the largest mall in the Worcester area, and if not, it was close behind. Case in point: The Auburn Mall.
The Auburn Mall is a mid-sized (600,000 sqft. or so), dumbell-style mall located in central Massachusetts. Strategically located about 5 miles southwest of Worcester at the junction of interstates 290, 395, and 90 as well as MA-12, the mall (which is nuzzled in a valley between I-290 and I-90, with prime visibility from both) serves are a large swath of rural central Massachusetts and northeastern Connecticut. It is the only enclosed mall for almost 50 miles in several directions, although there are many others going east, north, or southeast.
I’m not sure of the exact year that the Auburn Mall was built, but I would wager it was constructed sometime in the mid-late 1970s. Initially, the mall’s anchors were Sears, a two-level, aged Caldor (which retained the orange, 1980s vintage logo until its death), and a junior anchor in Cherry & Webb. A rather extensive renovation in the early 1990s (Around 1994 or 1995, I believe, likely as a response to the revitalization of Worcester Common) added Filene’s as an anchor off center court. Several years after the death of Caldor, Filene’s also took their space at the Auburn Mall’s eastern end, splitting the Filene’s store into two. The mall’s anchors today are therefore Macy’s (with two spaces) and Sears. The Cherry & Webb space is today an Express.
Design-wise, Auburn won’t win much praise; it’s a functional, mid-level mall that always does great business but isn’t a destination for anyone but people who live in its immediate trade area. Its most notable features are the strangely sloped ceilings and the larger court areas, which distinctly peg the mall to a somewhat earlier era.
Recently, the Shoppes at Blackstone Valley, a large lifestyle center located one exit away on I-90, has stolen some of the Auburn Mall’s thunder, and is now the largest shopping center on the south side of Worcester. The two centers share little overlap, however, and Auburn seems to chug along just fine. The Auburn Mall is today owned by Simon, and these photos were all taken August 2006.