Blue Hen Mall; Dover, Delaware

Former Woolworth's and center court area at Blue Hen Mall in Dover, Delaware

About a year ago, Labelscar friend CCMoore alerted us to a time capsule of a mall located in Dover, Delaware, called the Blue Hen Mall. We almost completely forgot about this on our recent trip to the area. By the time we remembered, we already found ourselves toodling around Dover, and by then it was hard to do much research (plus I mistakenly thought the place was downtown, for some reason). I assumed it had just been completely converted to offices anyway and would be shut on the Sunday we were in town, and this may have even been true.

CCMoore was kind enough to send along some pictures to fill in the blanks and give us some history on this strange little relic. He also was responsible for our pretty fantastic feature on the Salisbury Mall last fall, too, so if you’re itching for more malls of the Delmarva, check it out.

“The Blue Hen Mall opened in 1969, I believe. It sits just north of the Dover Air Force Base. It opened with JCPenney, Woolco, Woolworth’s and Braunstein’s as the main draws and was probably the first mall south of the canal (not counting the Salisbury Mall in Maryland 2 hrs south). I know the newer Dover Mall opened in the early 80s with Sears, Leggett’s (Belk) and Boscov’s. Penney’s left in the early 90s and after that the mall basically died. It’s never been the most exciting mall in the world but it’s a serious time warp in some spots.

“Because this is an office complex of sorts, the grounds are pristinely maintained. The plants in the planters in the mall are still there and are maintained by some botony/garden association and they exactly like they did when I was kid.”

CCMoore offers us some commentary along with each of the pictures. In case you are wondering about the above photo, he says that it’s of “the left side off center court. This always seemed like the busier side. At one point Woolworths(the brick store w/ huge windows), Danneman’s (fabric, crafts, bullshit), GNC, Braunstein’s, Buster Brown, some wig shop, Hess Apparel and Waldenbooks were all on this end, with a HUGE Penney’s store connecting to it. When I was a kid in the mid-80s this was the best place to go because you could wander around and just look at everything and it was SO big, even though it’s not really big at all now.”

Former wig shop near JCPenney at Blue Hen Mall in Dover, Delaware

“The wig shop which looks like it might have been a Parklane Hosery store, this was on the left (north) end toward Penney’s, the small store to the right was part of Danneman’s that wrapped around the wig shop. The main store front was to the left further down.”

Former Woolworth's restaurant at Blue Hen Mall in Dover, Delaware

“The old Woolworth’s restaurant. This is at center court, toward the back parking lot.”

Former movie theatres at Blue Hen Mall in Dover, Delaware

“The old movie theater. I saw a shitty concert here in the mid-90s and the theater itself is pretty cool, the lobby is intact too.”

Former Woolco/Roses wing at Blue Hen Mall in Dover, Delaware

“To the right (south) of center court. The two arched doors on the
right with the display windows was a beautiful women’s clothing store
called Benjamin’s. At one point, DELDOT (Dept. of Trans.) had offices
upstairs while the main DelDOT campus was being enlarged in the early
90s. I have no clue what is there now, or what was there when the mall
was thriving. At the end of this wing was Woolco and then Roses.”

Tri-State Mall; Claymont, Delaware

Tri-State Mall in Claymont, DE

With a name like the “Tri-State Mall,” you might expect a major, regional mall out of this Claymont, Delaware center. Of course, you’d also be completely wrong.

The tiny Tri-State Mall on Naaman’s Road in Claymont, Delaware, located right along the Pennsylvania state line, is easily one of the bleakest and most unappealing malls that we’ve visited. While we at Labelscar love the idea of the enclosed mall and find that it’s a rare occasion that we don’t enjoy one of these centers, Tri-State Mall is one of those rare cases where the place feels so forbidding that we’re in a bit of a rush to leave. These pictures, all taken in early August 2007 of the forty-year-old mall, should illustrate why.

Set between some middle class suburban areas to the west and an expanse of oil fields and other industrial areas to the east, the Tri-State Mall is organized in a relatively simple “+” pattern, with one hallway leading straight from the parking lot to a comedy club in the mall’s rear, and a cross hallway leading between Kmart and Value City, the mall’s two anchors. There is also a rather sad little strip mall in the parking lot that’s built into the lot’s grade.

Tri-State Mall in Claymont, DE

Apart from the mall’s downright hilarious website–which includes a bunch of small photos that were very obviously NOT taken here–we can’t find very much about the Tri-State Mall on the web. Did the mall ever do any better? What were the original anchors–was something here before Value City?

EDIT 8/13/07: Ask and you shall receive. Michael Lisicky always comes through for us–he had this 1987 photo of the Wilmington Dry Goods store, which occupied the Value City space. He also says the mall was a much bigger draw at that time than it is today. Value City took over the space in 1990. Also, Lisicky says he’s pretty sure that the Kmart was a Grant City store originally.

Wilmington Dry Goods at Tri-State Mall in Claymont, Delaware 1987

Strip mall at Tri-State Mall in Claymont, DE Value City at Tri-State Mall in Claymont, DE Kmart at Tri-State Mall in Claymont, DE

Tri-State Mall in Claymont, DE Tri-State Mall in Claymont, DE Tri-State Mall in Claymont, DE Tri-State Mall in Claymont, DE

Tri-State Mall in Claymont, DE