Salem Center Mall, Salem, Oregon

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Super S
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Salem Center Mall, Salem, Oregon

Post by Super S »

A few weeks ago I was in Salem and stopped in the Salem Center Mall. A Wikipedia search shows that the mall was built in 1978, and the main mall looks like it could have very well been built during that time period.

This is a unique mall in that it appears to have been built around an existing downtown area. The lower level is divided up by streets, but there are several skybridges that connect the buildings.

Which makes me curious about the history of the mall's main anchors. The Kohl's store, which was likely a Mervyn's, and the Nordstrom store, appear to be designed along with the mall and have typical mall entrances. However, the JCPenney and Macy's have entrances that are separated by a long skybridge from the rest of the mall. They are also off to the side of the hallways and have rather small signs inside. I did not go inside the Macy's, but I did go inside the JCPenney. I noticed the ceiling seemed higher than in most JCPenney stores, although it had typical lighting, and the store seemed older than the mall itself. The Macy's I assume was a former Meier & Frank. There is also a Macy's at Lancaster, Salem's other mall, which was formerly a Bon Marche.

Another clue was a nearby Rite Aid which is not physically connected but is next to the mall. Judging by the size it is definitely a former PayLess Drug. I did go inside, and one clue was the fact that it had a suspended ceiling, but had some rather old looking light fixtures that hung lower than the ceiling, which I also saw at the store in LaGrande, Oregon. However, this store looks like it had the walls repainted recently. It seemed like an odd location for PayLess though.

Anybody have more information on this mall?
pseudo3d
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Re: Salem Center Mall, Salem, Oregon

Post by pseudo3d »

Mall Hall of Fame has what you need. For floorplans and other photos, keep hitting "Newer Post"
Super S
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Re: Salem Center Mall, Salem, Oregon

Post by Super S »

Great link, thanks for that.

That must have been one of the last standalone JCPenney stores to be built in a downtown area, as JCPenney was starting to make an exodus to malls during that time. I have seen very few freestanding downtown stores which had the 60s logo, and being built in 1965, this one would have had it. I wonder if it originally had an auto center nearby.

The Meier & Frank is also interesting in that it predates Portland's Lloyd Center location by five years.
marshd1000
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Re: Salem Center Mall, Salem, Oregon

Post by marshd1000 »

If my memory serves me correctly, before this was called Salem Center Mall, it opened as Nordstrom Mall. I believe the Nordstrom was built as part of the mall. Nordstrom may had even been the developer of the mall. That was my understanding.
tkaye
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Re: Salem Center Mall, Salem, Oregon

Post by tkaye »

Super S wrote:That must have been one of the last standalone JCPenney stores to be built in a downtown area, as JCPenney was starting to make an exodus to malls during that time. I have seen very few freestanding downtown stores which had the 60s logo, and being built in 1965, this one would have had it. I wonder if it originally had an auto center nearby.
Penney's opened a downtown store in Bremerton, Wash., in 1969. The '60s logo was the only one ever used there, as the store moved to the Kitsap Mall in nearby Silverdale in 1989. The Bremerton store had a freestanding auto center adjacent to the main building.

An article on the Bremerton store in the Oct. 12, 1969 Seattle Times mentions a visit by Oakley S. Evans, director of corporate development: "Evans was in Seattle last week for the opening of the new 165,000-square-foot Bremerton full-line store. He said the company, which has mainly engaged in expansion in suburban shopping centers, is making a swing toward redevelopment in the established urban centers."

In the '70s and '80s, there was talk of turning downtown Bremerton into an urban mall similar to Salem's, but nothing ever materialized. One of the plans included stringing a giant tent over the streets between Penney's and the adjacent buildings. Since Penney's left, the building's only use has been as a giant parking garage, first using the store's existing rooftop parking and then expanding into the gutted store building.
justin karimzad
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Re: Salem Center Mall, Salem, Oregon

Post by justin karimzad »

Salem Center Mall was originally called Nordstrom Mall. The Meier and Frank opened in 1955, and the Rite Aid was a PayLess that opened in 1963. The building was halved in the early 2000s, and the other half became TJ Maxx. The Meier and Frank building has a small mezzanine sales floor only accessible by the stairs or elevator, and originally housed a pharmacy and snack bar. I went to college in Oregon, and used to have a lot of fun visiting Salem. Until 2006, this JC Penney still had the original acoustical tiles and old spot lighting. The elevator, at least at the time, had the original non-illuminated buttons, and the basement still had the original floor tiles. There are old photos of these stores on this website, search "Penney" and "Payless";
http://photos.salemhistory.net/cdm/sear ... order/date
Vintage color photo of the Payless;
http://www.flickr.com/photos/hollywoodplace/4054455130/
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