Apologies for the home state neglect. Let’s take a break from the Noo Yawka barrage with a mall that even a lot of people living in the Boston area may not know about.
The Walpole Mall is the only enclosed mall serving Boston’s southwest suburbs, along the US1 and I-95 corridor. There is another, larger enclosed mall in North Attleborough (the 1 million square foot Emerald Square Mall) but it’s so far from Boston that it’s really much more in the Providence suburbs, and there used to be a somewhat larger second mall–the Dedham Mall–on this corridor, but it was de-malled gradually from 2000 to 2003. That leaves this somewhat puzzling, 306,000 square foot ancillary mall by its lonesome, on a strip that always seems underdeveloped given its location.
(This is an old Papa Gino’s pizza logo. Isn’t papa great? It seems as though he’s holding barrels full of pizza for you.)
I’m actually hoping that some readers will chime in with a bit of the deeper history of the Walpole Mall, because I don’t know too much. My guess is that it was constructed in the mid-70s to the early ’80s, and its size and layout (basically a modified dumbell) is typical of many of the smaller, Bradlees-anchored malls that sprung up around New England at the time. The mall was given a pretty substantial facelift in 1997 through early 1998 that made it look roughly as it does now, with its strange mix of big box retailers and enclosed mall space. In 2001, management briefly announced a plan to expand the mall by over a million square feet by purchasing much of the residential property behind the mall, but this controversial proposal never came to fruition, disappearing without much of a trace. I specifically remember road trippin’ it up to this mall in early 1998 with some of my friends from high school because it had just been given one of New England’s first Old Navy stores, but that was my first ever visit to the place, and it looked then roughly the same as now. The Office Max store looks more like an old Ames than anything, but it seems to small to be an Ames. I don’t have a clue. The Kohl’s definitely used to be a Bradlees, but I’m a bit puzzled on the rest. Today’s anchors are Kohl’s, Barnes & Noble, Old Navy, Jo-Ann Fabrics, and Office Max.
By the way, there are a few malls along this way that have departed in the past few years, including the previously-mentioned Dedham Mall and the tiny Village Mall in Canton. If by any chance–and it’s a wild and crazy chance, I know–you have any pictures of any of these, I’d, y’know, really love to see them. Dedham was one of my favorites, you see, and now it’s much too late to save anything of note. The place is basically gone now, just a sad and disjointed mass of outward facing big box stores.