Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Midland Mall

Warwick, Rhode Island - Early '70s

Love this cozy looking shot inside Midland Mall. Midland was Rhode Island's first enclosed shopping mall. Vibrant in its early years, it fell on harder and harder times when, in 1970, the larger and much slicker, Warwick Mall, opened right across the expressway, almost a stone's throw, to the East. Many stores (and shoppers) made the slow exodus over the next several years, from Midland to Warwick Mall.

Midland eventually (haven't pinpointed exactly when yet) changed its name to, Rhode Island Mall (anyone know when?), and underwent some cosmetic updates and renovations in the 1980's, thus effectivley killing off what had been "Midland Mall", forever.

Mall history: 1968 - ? (dead)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the mall should have made sure SEARS replaced its lightbulbs before taking the picture. LOL

Wed Apr 26, 09:22:00 PM  
Blogger Livemalls said...

I've seen that mall picture before, but I never knew what mall it was from.

Wed Apr 26, 10:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL, before I read your post, Anonymous, I was thinking "What kind of store is 'ARS'"? I've never heard of that one...Thanks for pointing that out!!

Thu Apr 27, 10:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find it odd the old SEARS (or should that be 'ARS" in this case. :) ) logo here is in red. All the times I've seen it (before the huge chain-wide renovation program that started in 1995, eliminating all of these old signs), most were in blue, and I've seen it in white and pink colors as well.

I think it all depended upon the mall's overall color scheme & decor. I'm not sure.

Thu Apr 27, 11:49:00 AM  
Blogger ryandazombie said...

Once upon a time, that mall was sizzling hot. #1 hangout in the state. Long live the "CHESS KING"

Thu Apr 27, 01:21:00 PM  
Blogger dcampagna said...

A major thing that killed Rhode Island Mall (Midland) was that they moved "Aladdin's Castle" video game arcade from the heart of the mall to a new space right next to one of the main entrances. In addition, the new arcade was on the opposite end of the mall from the food court. A really dumb move, because kids would go directly to the arcade without passing through by the record store, toy store, gift shops, etc. A lot of small retailers got killed.

The anchor store at the end of the mall opposite from Sears (Filene's) pulled out, and instead of finding another anchor, the owners just erected a giant wall over the three floors and leased the separate space to a Walmart and a Kohls. The wall isolated the remaining stores and made the place a wasteland. The mall is on life support nowadays.

Thu Apr 27, 02:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Taco Maker chick was hot.

Thu Apr 27, 02:17:00 PM  
Blogger ryandazombie said...

i dare say the Midland Mall is at the present, enjoying a second-coming.At one time, I would agree with it being on life-support. With wal-mart and the dmv invading midland, the blood is once agin coursing through the veins of this once great empire. The customers are a new breed. At this one stop, you can visit the 1hd female gnome/goblin at electronics boutique, get some comics and toys at the chest, darts and knifes at one store, candles and replica daggers at another, and then finish it all off with a hearty pretzel. Midland4life

Thu Apr 27, 03:05:00 PM  
Blogger ryandazombie said...

do you mean jon the tranny on airport road?

Thu Apr 27, 03:07:00 PM  
Blogger Keith said...

Thanks for the additional notes and updates here, guys! :)

Thu Apr 27, 10:53:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Sobieniak said...

I miss the old-fashion "SEARS" signs myself. The Toledo location at Westgate Village Shopping Center used to have that sign up to some point in the '90s when they had to modernize.

Fri Apr 28, 05:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Sears store in Hollywood still has this Logo. Another Sears in East LA has the old 60's script still. Both havent been remodeled in ages

Sat Apr 29, 04:33:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Sobieniak said...

Jeff said...
The Sears store in Hollywood still has this Logo. Another Sears in East LA has the old 60's script still. Both havent been remodeled in ages

Glad to hear of that! Just seems funny at times when they do get around to finally doing something. The Taco Bell near my house still has the '80s logo on their signs and not the present-day type (others have already made the change).

Sun Apr 30, 07:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I actually grew up in Rhode Island and shopped at the Rhode Island Mall frequently as a kid. The mall was renovated (slightly) and renamed around 1984 or so. Contrary to popular belief, the two malls enjoyed a symbiotic relationship for about a decade after that. While Warwick was larger, it had room for only about 70 stores, leaving Rhode Island--its neighbor--with a lot of other stores to fill its roster. Sears and G. Fox were the anchors until sometime in the mid-1990s, when the May Company acquired G. Fox and re-bannered them as Filenes. Since there was already a Filenes at Warwick Mall, this was somewhat redundant and they closed the smaller RI Mall store soon thereafter. The mall went into a very prolonged and very slow death spiral thereafter, beginning in 1996 or 1997. In 2000, they demolished the former G. Fox and about 1/3 of the mall (including the food court) and replaced it with a Wal-Mart (on level 1) and a Kohl's (on level 2) but neither had mall access. The interior of the mall was never renovated, and since it was now obvious that there would NEVER be an anchor at the end opposite Sears, most of the remaining stores left. It's about 90% empty now, but remains open.

I've actually heard that Royal Ahold (parent company of supermarket chain Stop and Shop) leased much of the interior of the mall to prevent Wal-Mart from expanding into a supercenter there. This also unfortunately has prevented anything from being done to the mall, or prevented any other stores from moving into the vacancies.

Thu May 04, 04:47:00 PM  
Blogger labelscar said...

I've actually just written a post about this mall on my own blog at I used your picture for reference, and took a new shot from almost the exact same place.

I gave you some well-deserved kudos too!

Tue Jun 13, 11:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember my Friday and Saturday nights at RI Mall fondly. Going to the food court (Now a part of Kohl's) and Alladins Castle (Became another arcade called 'Big Top', and is now vacant) then going down the street to D.G.'s arcade (Now a Town Fair Tire.) Those were the days.

I went to RI Mall a few months ago and was horrified to find all but 4 or 5 store fronts were vacant and that, besides employees and a mall security guard, I was the only one in the mall.

It's so sad to see this once great hang out/shopping center dying a such a slow and horrible death.

Mon Aug 21, 09:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A very sad article about the current state of the mall as of last christmas (now the Rhode Island Mall)
There's some good info about the mall here.
I think this poor mall is on its way out. Even Warwick Mall next door is pretty tiny, all the action is up the street at the Emerald Square mall in Attleboro (which is very large) and the Providence Place Mall in Providence.

Sat Sep 02, 02:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I grew up in warwick and we hung out at warwick plaza, and also at "midland mall" lol not funny one of the guys that painted the tower fell! He is long gone,I am 50 I grew up and had good times in these foolish places

Wed Jan 03, 05:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Midland Mall was my favorite. I remember spending hours there every week during the late 70s and early 80s.

I will never forget the precious memories I have of my late grandparents taking me there. They were so cool taking me to pick out my own Christmas gifts at KB Toys and going to Papa Gino's Pizza. I had the best grandparents.

Remember the big water tower in the front parking lot or the movie theater by the upper level Sears entrance that was there until the early 80s. As I child it was my heaven. Toys R Us, the next store up the road, and ChildWorld in Garden City, what memories.

Wed Oct 31, 07:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I moved to Rhode Island in 1998, and I remember thinking to myself, "Why would they put the only two malls in Rhode Island right next door to one another?" Warwick Mall was much more happening, and probably still is... in spite of it being smaller than the RI Mall (and only one story). The Rhode Island Mall reminds me a lot of the Plymouth Meeting Mall in Plymouth Meeting, PA. They look identical, only the RI Mall is much more desolate.

Fri Jun 13, 08:08:00 PM  
Blogger chrissy said...

wood like to no some stores at the rhode island mall in the early 80's. above cherry & web

Sat Oct 17, 10:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Martin said...

Does anyone have any archive photos of the Midland Mall in Rhode Island? Photos from the 60's or 70s. I have tried to find as many archive photos of this mall for a while. I'm sure that there are many. Thank you!

Sat Mar 27, 06:08:00 PM  
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Thu Sep 22, 03:15:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Keith, I am working on a research paper concerning the 20th century history of Providence, Rhode Island, and I was hoping to use your image of the 'Midland Mall.' With attribution, of course. Kindly let me know if that is okay, and thanks very much for a great site!

Sam Coren

Mon Apr 20, 01:44:00 PM  
Blogger Linda said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Sun Sep 30, 08:07:00 PM  
Blogger Linda said...

Not sure if you are still monitoring this blog. Was raised in RI and went to Midland Mall when it first opened. The original anchor stores were Sears (the first actual Sears STORE in RI; previously you went to the Sears facility on North Main Street and ordered Sears products from the catalog--there was no actual store) and Shepard's, a downtown Providence fixture store for years. G. Fox only took over the other anchor after Shepard's went out of business in 1974. They also had a CVS in the mall, and, next door to it, a funky little store that sold "glass" (plastic) flowers and other "mod" 60s stuff. (Later in the 1970s and 1980s this was "Impulse," a store that sold only Panasonic products. My folks bought me a cassette recorder for graduation in 1974, and I bought my first VCR there in 1980.) On one side of the store opposite the escalators was a book store (not a chain) and across from it was a country store type business with peppermint sticks and horehound drops, etc. At the entrance to the mall at the downstairs level near Sears was a Doktor pet shop.

Sun Sep 30, 08:10:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Back in the 80's, the best mens clothing store was The Casual Male! Second floor near Sears.

Fri Aug 09, 03:54:00 PM  

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