While perusing some archived folders on my hard drive this morning, I found a real treat: a full set of photos from the Fairfield Mall in Chicopee, Massachusetts, which was demolished a full five years ago. I honestly have no idea where these pictures came from–I didn’t take them!–they’re not terribly clear, and they make the mall look even more bleak than it was (and this is quite a feat), but they’re still a huge find!
The Fairfield Mall was a 400,000 square foot, simple dumbell mall located just off the Massachusetts Turnpike in the Springfield suburb of Chicopee. The PREIT-owned mall, which opened in 1974, closed in 2001, and was demolished in parts through 2003 or 2004, was anchored by Caldor and Bradlees, which gives all of the necessary details to discern why it died. It was also an extremely dated mall inside and out, apart from the airy and bright center court and food court, which was almost certainly added at a later point. Still, much of the mall was functioning as a relatively standard small-to-mid-sized mall as late as 2000. I can recall one of my visits to the Fairfield Mall in March 2000–barely a year before it died–when I felt it actually seemed to be doing better than it had on my previous visit.
The Springfield metropolitan area is not overmalled, but it is dominated by the large Holyoke Mall at Ingleside, and has suffered through a sluggish local economy since the 1980s. Chicopee is a relatively large suburb with a population of 56,000, plenty enough to support its own enclosed mall. The design of Fairfield Mall was only suitable to be a convenient, off-price, neighborhood alternative, however. As such it was unable to weather the loss of both its anchors in 1999 and 2001, respectively, especially given its relatively forlorn appearance. The relative revitalization of Springfield’s nearby Eastfield Mall in 2000 also likely didn’t help matters.
After being demolished in parts beginning in 2002 and continuing through 2003 or 2004, the site today is home to a big box center anchored by Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Staples, Marshall’s, iParty, and others.
Dead Malls also has a string of articles and anecdotes on the Fairfield Mall, along with some exterior photos taken sometime in 2001 after the mall was shuttered. In the photo below, look very closely and note that there’s an intact, 1970s vintage “brown rainbow” Caldor logo still on their building:
Prangeway: The above photos were polaroids taken by Joe Collins of Chicopee and scanned in by me, in the fall of 2000. Also in late August 2001 I attempted to visit Fairfield Mall but I think I was a tiny bit too late. The outside sign read a bank (on an outlot to the mall itself), Ocean State Job Lot (also on an outlot), Subway, and Luca’s Pizza were open at that time. So, I went around to the entrance where Subway was and I could see it in there just beyond locked doors. They still had the menu up and there were bags of chips hanging there, and it looked very much like it was still in operation. However, the doors to the mall were locked, it was very, very dark inside, and it was a Saturday afternoon. So, who knows? At any rate, it’s all gone now, so enjoy the extra pictures of the outside of the mall from August 26, 2001.