Sunday, June 26, 2005

Plymouth Meeting Mall

Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania. Early '70s

Man, isn't she a beauty! Nice clean look and layout. Love the hanging plants on the upper floor... and that fountain! Wow. Now that is a great fountain!

And for what's it's worth, it was going on 2pm in this photo. Yes, I'm way into the details. :)


Blogger HeatherContempt said...

Wow, that brings back some memories. I spent many an afternoon throwing pennies into that fountain. We just moved back to the area, and the mall is still there, but much less 70s now!

Sun Jun 26, 11:51:00 AM  
Blogger Keith said...

Yeah, Heather, they've gone and taken the '70s right out of most malls these days. In some, though, if you look real hard, you can still dig around and find small traces hidden away in the corners and crevices, of all the coolness they once had. An original light fixture here, section of paint or wallpaper there, old carpet down a hall, ceiling design or skylights, etc.

Thanks for sharing your memories!

Sun Jun 26, 04:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

how could u possibly know what time the photo was taken?

i'd love to know how u got that nugget of info...

Thu Jun 30, 12:21:00 PM  
Blogger Keith said...

Hey, I just got it goin' on like that, you know!

Well, actually, there's a clock there above the fountain. :)

Thu Jun 30, 04:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I left my comments about the fountain in the section with all of the fountains collected, but I forgot all about the clock. It used to chime -- I still remember hearing it echo throughout the mall. And Heather, I've spent a lot of time (and money!) pitching pennies, too. :o)

Thu Aug 04, 05:04:00 PM  
Blogger Ritzy said...

Wow! I, too remember this fountain, which was in another local Mall near where I grew up.

And while the 70's motifs are almost ALL gone - (it was remodelled last in the mid-90's)the one remaining, glorious, significant, and totally unique feature of this mall still there, since it's cornerstone was laid in 1965 is the "Church On The Mall".

Yep - PMM has, and is the only Mall known to date that was built with it's very own house of Worship, so those 60's consumers could shop totally guilt-free on Sundays, after Pennsylvania "Blue Laws" (outlawing stores to do business on Sundays). You could do pennance, AND shop at Strawbridges in one fell swoop! It's still there... and there are no plans to change it, while the Mall is slated for it's next major renovations in early 2007 (I know this, as I presently work for PREIT - the owner's of the Mall)

Missing now, in the interior is also the "Plymouth Grille" - a 4-square eatery that served Dogs and Burgers, and quickly closed after a patron was discovered there, dead in her seat - after having lunch back in the 80's.

The current 2-story venue is nicely updated now, with a Merry-Go-Round, and updated Kiosks in the center areas, and is anchored by Boscovs, and a Macy's (which recently took over Strawbridge's).

Thu Aug 24, 02:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One reason it's changed is because of the big fire many years back.

Thu Oct 12, 08:22:00 PM  
Blogger timboy219 said...

does anybody remember and/or have pics of the twin movie theater inside?

Fri Dec 15, 07:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of the Mall or the theater, though I too would love to see more like the one posted above. The theater was actually called Cinema I & II and was located on the first floor where the food court now exists. The original movie theater I believe was damaged in the fire of late December, 1969, which affected about 1/4 of the Mall at the Lit Bros/Hess/Boscov's end. The division into two separate theaters may have occurred when that part of the Mall reopened in the early '70s. It was a relatively nondescript and small theater, although there was a large circular ticket booth out front, like something out of a cool mid-century modern airport.

Thu Dec 28, 09:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow - the theater I had nearly forgotten about that! I spent my formative years in the 80's in that mall...ah the memories. I actually went to SEE movies in that theater but I can't remember what I saw exactly. And if you're recalling cool 70's / 80's memories, then you certainly have to mention the giant 2-story Woolworth, replete with its own escalators that was there! The restaurt it had off to the side with the cool 70's diner-esque booths and a sandwich bar with booths! AND one of those chilled glass refrigerators that the desserts revolved in. For whatever reason I remember thinking those spinning desserts were so cool as a kid. I think I only ate there twice with my grandma but it made an impression. It wasn't always Boscov's at the end but I can't recall what it was. Anyways, thanks for the happy trip down memory lane... ~Conshy Girl

Thu Feb 22, 08:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny you should mention eating at Woolworth's restaurant with your grandma, as I was remembering the place as exactly the kind of place you'd go with grandparents for lunch. The Harvest House, if I remember the name correctly, was essentially a diner (in an era long before the gourmet sensibility infiltrated the suburbs). The above mentioned Plymouth Grille, which was a square lunch counter, was I believe right outside Woolworth's in the mall itself.

As I mentioned above, the initial store at the north end was Lit Brothers, from 1966 to 1977, then Hess' until 1993, when Boscov's took over.

Sun Mar 11, 09:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While we're on the topic, does anyone remember these stores? (From the 60's, 70's, and 80's, in no special order.)

Ray Panella Ski Shop
Hickory Farms
Wee Three Records
Peoples Drug
The ice cream store next to the movie (can't remember name, if it had one)
Doktor's Pets (that's the spelling if I recall)
Hobbyland (which also operated a smaller booth in the corridor next to the movie theater which sold magic tricks and novelty items like fake vomit- going down that corridor was also a leather goods booth and a newsstand followed by the Church on the Mall and One Plymouth Meeting office building)
Scott & Hunsicker- a men's store
Spencer's Gifts
The Fabric Tree
Buster Brown Shoes
Jacob Reed- a venerable Philadelphia men's store
Morville Clothing
B. Dalton Books
Tuerkes Leather and Luggage
J.E. Caldwell Jewelers- another Philadelphia institution
Cork 'n' Crown pub
The Hungry Pilgrim
Sam Goody
Wall & Ochs optician
Plymouth Barber Shop- which is still there!

These are the ones that stand out in my memory, apart from the usual chain players (e.g. The Gap).

Sun Mar 11, 09:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was there during the big fire there. My dad took my sister and I there to see Jets Petting Zoo which was the "Saturday Afternoon Attraction" that weekend. The animals were acting nervious and my dad said something was wrong. A few minutes later we saw flames roll out of the store area where the Radio Shack is now. My dad grabbed my sister and I and ran us to the car outside. Later that day, we watched what happened on the news...quite a tragedy!

Tue May 15, 03:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

An interesting small store that you forgot is "Pennyback" which had a large jar of pennies on the counter and invited you to take a penny back.
I bought two shirts there in late 1970 or 1971.

Also the feature that stands out in memory - before the fire, were the huge towered aquariums at the end of the mall opposite the fountain.
After the extensive remodeling after the fire - didn't that take forever? - they were gone...

Thu Jun 21, 10:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aww I wish I had pictures of the movie theater and the supercade. My mom worked in the mall when i was a kid and i was there all the time.

Wed Jul 11, 11:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey! How about "A Tree Grows in Plymouth?" That big piece of log with the rings dated back to George Washington. It was some where near the fountain which kids still throw pennies into.

Wed Nov 14, 05:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To correct my prior post (above), the fire at the PMM occurred on 12/26/70, not 1969. This date was indeed a Saturday as someone above also noted.

Jet's Petting Zoo brings back memories- it brought small farm animals- sheep, goats, for example, into the Mall for kids to pet. A quaint idea, by today's standards. Could something like that even exist today from a liability standpoint?

I can't unfortunately remember Pennyback. While I don't remember aquariums at the Lit's end of the Mall, could they have been large birdcages filled with exotic birds? This I have a vague memory of. Something similar existed at the Cherry Hill Mall, the "sister" institution of the PMM.

"A Tree Grows in Plymouth" refers to a museum-like exhibit which was in a case on the wall between the first floor entrance (now moved) and Strawbridge & Clothier (now Macy's). Evidently a huge tree with a diameter of nearly 5 feet occupied the land where the Mall was built and had to be cut down. The developers must have felt "guilty" in a way, and so had a cross section of the tree milled and placed in this case, with metal rods pointing to various rings and listing various historical events that occurred at those times. This, too, strikes me as another quaint idea, that something would be put in the Mall whose purpose was other than simply making you want to shop and spend more.

Thu Nov 22, 11:36:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Wow! This really brings back memories. I was one of the original mall rats at PMM. My friends and I spent every Friday night there through my junior high school years. I remember the time when someone dumped a box of laundry detergent into that fountain. He will remain anonymous ;-) I also remember that in the beginning, the Church on the Mall actually held services in the center of the mall where the stage was. The church was added later. That was when the blue laws were still in effect and all the stores were closed on Sunday. Except for People's Drugs. Remember they actually had a supermarket at the mall too It was Food Fair, later renamed Pantry Pride. I also remember the very 60's/70's style spiral phone booths, They looked like something out of 2001, A Space Odyssey, which, by the way, I saw for the first time in the mall theater. The movie theater was made into two theaters after the fire. I remember part of the mall down by Lit Bros was walled off for the longest time while they repaired it. My sister use to work in the Woolworth's store and my mother and I would have dinner at the Harvest House almost every Thursday night. Great memories. Oh yea, one last thing. The Hula dance shows in the middle of the mall.

Sat Jan 05, 12:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW!!!. all those comments sure bring back sweet memories. We (my wife and-then-our 2 small kids in the '70s) would go to the mall once a week, from Mt Airy, where we lived then. I remember the big cross section of tree with all the rings, that glorious fountain where I used to sit and wait while my wife always had to wring the last few minutes outta her shopping for bargains. Yep - WaldenBooks (I was a book buff) and the pet shop which we always took the kids into, and, of course, the Ice Cream Parlor near the movie theater at the end of the mall. mmmm!! I am living in Ireland now but I miss places like that mall soooo much. It was a really beautiful mall. The Ocean City boardwalk is another of my favorite haunts (or rather it was). This is all making me feel homesick to go back...

Mon Jan 21, 05:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a great website... I was just thinking about this mall yesterday! All the posts brought back such good memories. Do you remember the Wanamaker's 3rd floor? I believe there were furs up there, personal shopping services and a tea room. And, what was the name of that sit-down restaurant in the middle of the mall? It served steaks & fish. They gave you a wooden tray & you picked what you wanted as you walked down the line with your tray. I remember it was dark. My family liked to go there after church on Sundays. The other stores would be locked up & you'd have to walk past them for the restaurant.

Fri Feb 22, 01:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just to clarify, it was Strawbridge & Clothier's 3rd floor. (Wanamaker's was at King of Prussia Plaza and Montgomery Mall, not PMM.) Strawbridge's had some higher-end features in that day related to merchandise and services that you'd now have to go to Nordstrom or Neiman-Marcus to find. There was an auditorium on the 3rd floor where there often was a story hour that I went to as a kid while Mom shopped. (What a quaint idea- books- I jest).

The above post seems to reference the Blue Laws of Pennsylvania, which I believe were repealed in 1978, where stores couldn't be open on Sunday. Unfortunately, I don't recall what the restaurant referred to above was named, nor can I even recall anything like it. (Sound like you're describing a Rustler Steakhouse, though I don't remember anything like this ever being at the PMM.)

Lastly, I'd date the above photo as possibly being circa 1975-76. If you look through the columns on the upper level to the mid-Mall section (try the larger picture), you can see what appear to be banners with Stars and Stripes hanging down, which makes me think Bicentennial era.

Needless to say, Keith, I also have really enjoyed this blog. Thanks.

Sun Feb 24, 09:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I still miss the Scandinavian store that was right across from the original movie theater. It's a shame that all the malls today all have the same stores in them. From inside, you can't tell where you are.

Sun Jun 08, 11:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The "Tree Grows in Plymouth" exhibit still exists, though its been moved to the upper level in the mid-mall entrance area. I was pleasantly surprised...

I was able to get an original postcard with the above image. The postmark on the card was from 1967. This is not actually that surprising, as malls of this type were still novel enough at that time that someone would actually want to send someone a postcard saying that they had been there.

Fri Oct 10, 10:30:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Better yet - hows about seeing it in action!

This was a video I saved of my two uncles I used to go to the mall with all the time. They got featured on a news piece about the mall.

Sat Jan 03, 12:00:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

The restaurant in Strawbridge's was a Stouffer's. Their banana splits were the best.

Sat Aug 08, 04:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There was a Cork 'n Crown Restaurant down near Lit Brothers (Boscov's). To my recollection, there were tall cages of birds near Lits, not an aquarium. There was also a small fountain at that end of the mall as well. The was also a York Steakhouse where you could serve yourself, that was near Strawbridges's. I worked at Franklin Simon, a large woman's clothing store. There was also Talk of the Town, the Marianne clothing shop, Supercade, the Limited, Wee Three Records, Davey Jones Locker, I think Baskin Robbins Ice Cream, J E Caldwell jewelry store.

Sun Jan 03, 08:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i can remember riding around in side the mall in my moms rambler station wagon when it was being built- her boyfriend was doing the concrete floors i was also a very early mall rat also remember the fire

Mon Mar 01, 01:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The self-serve steakhouse was discussed above- if you worked at the PMM, I'll trust your recollections- York. I remember most of the other stores you mentioned. I can't recall if the ice cream shop (just past the movie theater) was part of a chain (e.g. Baskin Robbins)- I thought it was an independent store, at least in the 1970s. Cork 'n' Crown, yes, tall birdcages down near Lits, yes.

Mon Mar 15, 09:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Vince said...

I worked at Pennyback in the early 70's and as I remember it we gave a piece of penny candy back for a purchase, not a penny.

Mon Mar 22, 12:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm going to correct myself a second time. The real (and final) date of the PMM fire was Saturday, January 10, 1970. I finally found a newspaper archive online (Reading Eagle) which confirmed this. I knew it was shortly after Christmas, but apparently a few weeks after Christmas 1969 (and not Christmas 1970).

A light exploded in the window of King's Mens Store, near Lit Brothers on the lower lever, causing the fire which lasted 5 1/2 hours and which eventually caused smoke, water or fire damaged of about 1/3 of the mall.

Sun Nov 14, 09:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the employees of the theatre when the mall burned...I was the Manager. Thank you for working there. I was never able to say thanks. I enjoyed my time there, the people, and the memories.
My email is Hope you're all doing well.
Mark P.

Thu Feb 17, 03:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This really brings back the memories. I worked the womens shoe dept at Strawbridges from the day S & C opened until June 1970.
The mall was a great place to workand made a lot of friends.

Tue May 24, 05:41:00 PM  
Blogger Gmann said...

Does anyone remember the card store the was in the middle of the mall outside the arcade? The arcade was on the 2nd floor between Anderson Little and the book store (I think it was Dalton books).


Tue Jul 19, 04:40:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing this informative article.- plymouth barbers

Mon Oct 31, 01:11:00 PM  
Blogger richard weaver said...

When you got off the bus and went in the entrance in the late 60's,early 70's the first store on the right was a hip clothing store,what was the name of it,

Sun Feb 19, 01:14:00 PM  
Blogger Steve Logan said...

There used to be a pizza shop on the upper level by this fountain that had a ton of photos hanging in it, many of them taken after the fire destroyed that end of the mall. I've LOVE to find some of hose pics.

That pizza shop then moved to the south side upper level right around where the new extension was built in the 1970s. Remember that awesome modern waterfall fountain that was around the two escalators behind the curved Woolworth's lunch counter?

Wed May 30, 10:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's a carousel with rocking horses and a Dave and Buster's at that mall. I wanted to go there SO BAD!!!! I really want to ride the rocking horses on the carousel and drive video games at Dave and Buster's!!! I might go there this summer, if I'm lucky.


Fri Jun 01, 08:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I rode the carosuel there yesterday!!! I also drove a video game at Dave and Buster's. It was awesome!!!


Tue Jul 10, 04:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sal's Pizza was on upper level (that's where the fire photos were at), my buddies (twin brothers) used to work there. We were all mall rats back then, from PWHS and other nearby schools, man the stuff that went on there. I remember panhandling for fun with a buddy of mine to get the cash together to but Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, back in, oh, late 1972 I think. Took many dates to the theater.

I now live in California. Have been back to visit many times, always go the mall. Pretty much all gone, nothing left from the 70s, except the fountain. And the memories. Sigh. I miss it.

Thu Nov 15, 03:15:00 PM  
Blogger scott davidson said...

As an art student researching the work of the Impressionists, I have big help from this site called It's like a good art library, where, convenient for me, works of artists are divided into art movements in history. Some of the works I had never seen before.
As the canvas prints are affordable, I ordered online a little size canvas print of my favorite,, by Claude Monet.

Sat Mar 16, 06:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I took those pictures that were hanging in Sal's Pizza, and developed them in my darkroom. I worked in the Wurlitzer Piano and Organ store on the upper level, where my Mom was the sheet music manager. Half of my family worked there. Mom knew Sal and so when I got the pics she mentioned it to him and I made prints for the pizza shop. I worked a few nights a week and watched the whole repair process, which took quite a long time. I can still remember the smell of "burnt mall." I practically grew up in that mall.

Wed Feb 26, 06:43:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Does anyone remember when S&C would deck out the exterior flagpole into a giant Christmas tree? I would love to see a picture or two.

Tue Jun 03, 09:59:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Does anyone remember when S&C would convert the giant exterior flagpole into a Christmas tree? I would love to see pix of that if anyone has them to share. Thanks!

BTW S&C third floor restaurant was the best! Forget the name of it, though.

Tue Jun 03, 10:01:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The name of the restaurant in the middle of the mall was called Plymouth Grill. The restaurant that sat people was called Harvest House adjoined to the right of Woolworths across from Cinema of the Mall.
Circa 1970.

Mon Feb 09, 09:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vince, I remember you!
lol, Saul and Susan moved onto South Street & we all used to go to Lickety-Split. John Dale, and the curly haired woman with really nice set of bouncy ti--eh, teeth?
BETSY GREEN! That's it! Boy they must be hanging so far... out in the glass jar at night, yeah that's it, glass jar.
Peace, out!

Mon Feb 09, 09:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

worked at the Cinema 72-74 ?...been looking for a pic of it for years..
anyone else work there?


Wed Sep 16, 04:22:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

What was the Italian Restaurant under the Plymouth Offices. It had faux bricks and stone. I remember them serving a block of cheese.

Sat Sep 10, 10:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the 1970's there was a GAP store upstairs -- big debate regarding location. If you were standing in front of Strawbridge & Clothier looking onto the mall interior, which side was the GAP store in the 1970s?

Tue May 02, 07:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I worked in the italian restaurant from like 1979-1983 it was called "the Villa" One unique feature of that place was if you ordered lasagna for example you could get "refills" (a second portion) for no additional charge. I do miss that place. Spent a lot of time in that mall. I was especially familiar with the passages behind the stores we called the catacombs. As an employee you could use them and get away with being there although we used to sneak in there to smoke.

Thu Dec 21, 04:54:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I remember the mall well. I have great memories of the mall. The holidays were always extremely busy for us. My Dad, grandfather and Uncle owned Sal’s Pizza. We were one the originals at the mall. My brother may have the pictures that were mentioned. I started working there in 1974. I remember most of the stores that were mentioned. My dad, Sal use to walk me in every one and introduce me to the owner or manager. My family talks about the “hay day” of the mall often. Thanks.

Wed Jan 17, 09:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't see mention of Sandwich Island, they were part of the original food court space, (1st mall food court concept in US i believe) then moved to the lower level near the plymouth grill. He had tons of fire damage pictures on display, I had my hands on some snapshots that someone who worked near Pier One Imports had shown me, I wish i had them now.

Mon Aug 13, 04:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting the name The Villa. I also worked there 1976-77 while I was in BKHS . I had to speak Obish with the wait-staff as I was a short order cook. Good food and fun place to work at. In the last year traveling home I had trouble remembering the restaurant's name. When the name came up again, I realized that my family had been referring "The Villa" as a retirement home as many relatives had gone there. So when I realized that the name of the home and restaurant were similar, I needed confirmation of the name and location. My mind thanks you. Ha.

Wed May 04, 01:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I managed J. Riggings in on the upper level. Right around Fathers Day in 1986, Someone took the two way chipping wedge out of the window and hit a ball from the back of the cavernous store. On one bounce, the ball missed Bavarian Pretzel and hit a Honda parked out front—-was a car show going on—the ball ricocheted just missing a baby carriage and landed in the fountain. Half an hour later, the shot was confirmed and that two way wedge is in my bag now.

Sun Aug 21, 07:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone have any photos of The Villa? We have so many good memories of that place but I can’t find anything about it online.

Thu Nov 10, 08:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No pictures here. I recall the restaurant was fairly dark where people were seated. The kitchen was bright and I can still see everything in my mind's eye.

Fri Nov 11, 11:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The villa was a great restaurant with the big salad bar and the York steakhouse ,used to always get the steak tips there,miss it big time

Sat Apr 01, 08:55:00 AM  

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