Hey kids–I’ve been really busy lately (in fact, it seems we both have), hence the dearth of new posts. But it’s not that I haven’t updated anything–in fact, we made some edits to a post from nearly a year back the other day thanks to some new vintage photos of the Leh’s Department store in Whitehall, Pennsylvania (outside of Allentown) at the Whitehall Mall. Since it’s unlikely any of you would’ve coincidentally stumbled across it (and it was posted before many people really even read Labelscar…) I figured I’d put it back out front, for all to see. And thanks again to Michael Lisicky for the great additions!
Original post as of June, 2006: Nowadays, whenever we go to look at a group of new malls, it seems that at least one or two in each metropolitan area is already gone or has been changed substantially. On a trip down to the Lehigh Valley area of Pennsylvania in November of 2005, I found one of these weird FrankenMalls: Whitehall Mall in Whitehall.
Located just north of the large and successful Lehigh Valley Mall, which is the main mall serving the greater Allentown and Bethlehem area, the Whitehall Mall is located in a high traffic location. That’s probably why its owners felt it should be big boxed (PDF) (and from my research, its redevelopment was done quite awhile ago: 1998, to be exact), though this is one of the more bizarre big box efforts that I’ve seen at a mall. A large section of the Whitehall Mall’s interior has been preserved and was not renovated, and the part that was turned outward doesn’t include many large box stores.
Currently, the Whitehall Mall houses a Sears (which stands in its original location, but no longer has mall access), Weis, Bed Bath and Beyond (both in the strip center portion of the mall) and Kohl’s (which resides at the end of one long interior corridor. Confused? Don’t feel bad; I would be too. Here’s a current mall directory to clue you in:
Strangely, it appears to me that the original Sears entrance would’ve been the one that currently faces towards the plaza, but I did find an abandoned exit from inside the Sears that I assumed went towards the mall. I’m not sure which is true, though it could be either or both depending on the center’s old configuration. The most notable find here was obviously the old enclosed portion, which does not appear to have been renovated since the 1960s or early 1970s. There was a large atrium near the entrance and former “Plaza” movie theatres, adjacent to an anchor that is currently mostly occupied by a Weis Markets but which was originally a Leh’s Department store (and a Zollinger Department store before that). There’s also an area about halfway up the hallway where there was a set of stairs leading up to the mall offices. They were set in front of a very groovy and retro stone wall.
In all, this is hardly an inventive (or particularly successful commercially, it seemed) way to hack up an old enclosed mall, but it did leave a few cool vestiges for us vintage mall fans.
UPDATE 5/2/2007 11:52 PM: Michael Lisicky, a constant source of excellent vintage photos for Labelscar, sent over some shots of the former Leh’s anchor at Whitehall, as well as an advertisement/logo for Zollinger dating to the early 1970s. The Leh’s shots all date to May 1994.
Vintage Zollinger-Harned Logo, from the early 1970s:
More Leh’s, photos. From left to right, they are Quakertown, 1994, and Downtown Allentown, 1991: