The Mall of New Hampshire is a 930,000 square foot enclosed shopping mall in Manchester, New Hampshire, the state’s largest city (pop. 108,580) and the largest single municipality in Northern New England. The center is also the third largest in the state, and is one of several serving the state’s populous “Golden Triangle,” a mostly suburban and urban area in the southern part of New Hampshire that grew significantly in population over the last several decades as people from Eastern Massachusetts sought affordable housing in an area that was commutable to Boston-area jobs.
Manchester itself serves as the media and transportation hub for most of the state, although it is–like many New England cities–an aging industrial revolution era mill town, packed with triple deckers and brick 19th century factories. Like many New Hampshire cities, it also boasts a significant retail trade due to the state’s lack of a sales tax, so many people from Massachusetts and Maine cross the border to shop in the state’s malls. The Mall of New Hampshire also benefits from its surrounding environment; it’s the lynchpin of the busy South Willow Street shopping corridor, which is one of the largest commercial strips in the region. Since Mall of New Hampshire is further from the border than some of its competition, it’s somewhat smaller despite serving a larger city.
The Mall of New Hampshire first opened in 1977 as a smaller mall in a “T” configuration, and sported Sears, Filene’s, and Lechmere (I think?) as anchor stores, plus room for around 70 stores in-line. The mall wasn’t changed significantly until 1996, when the center underwent a significant renovation and expansion. The Sears store was expanded, and the existing (smaller) Filene’s was reconfigured to make room for a large expansion that turned the “T” shape mall into a loop. Filene’s constructed a larger, newer store in the new wing, and some of their old space was expanded and converted to a new JCPenney store. Lechmere closed their store at the mall in 1997 when the entire Montgomery Ward-owned chain shuttered; it was replaced in 1999 by a Best Buy and a Kitchen Etc., a locally-based kitchen supply store which itself went out of business several years later and was replaced by AC Moore. The Filene’s store became a Macy’s in the 2006 May/Federated merger; prior to this Macy’s had no presence at the mall, though they do have a large freestanding store several miles away adjacent to the Bedford Mall, the only other enclosed shopping mall in the area (though not for long…).
On the whole, the Mall of New Hampshire is a fairly standard middle-tier mall; lots of standard suburban fare but not too many higher-end or destinational stores. It’s a pretty successful place and well-located in an area without any major competition, but also doesn’t seem to have many interesting historical facts either. Have some stories about the Mall of NH? Offer them up in the comments.