Thursday, August 17, 2006

Westfarms Mall

Farmington, Connecticut - circa 1970s

Westfarms Mall interior photo. Yep, it's a Taubman mall. But of course, many of us can tell this by now at first glance, can't we? :)

Mall history: 1974 - present
Current website: here
Current aerial view
Resource articles: 1, 2
Previous entries: none


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This mall being in my backyard (CT is a small state), I remember vaguely when it opened. My aunt dragged my mom and me up to West Hartford to check out a shopping area called Corbins Corner, which turned out to be across the street from the spanking-new Westfarms Mall. My aunt had never even heard of the Mall; she was more interested in the strip mall across the street (anchored by a Sears).

Having been mostly exposed to Trumbull Shopping Park and Lafayette Plaza in Bridgeport, both of which were inviting in a dowdy sort of way, seeing Westfarms (then anchored with G Fox & Co on one end and J C Penney on the other) was a bit of a sea change. Clean, clean, clean; and upscale too. I vividly remember the piano and organ shop next door to Penneys, which had a better and pricier selection of Lowreys and Allens (my first experience with a digital pipe organ).

As for the photo, the expanse to the right where there doesn't appear to be anything is now taken up with a later mall addition, anchored by Lord & Taylor. The G Fox store was later taken over by Filenes, and of course that's being rebranded to Macy's shortly. Penneys is still there, and as part of that later addition to the mall, a second spur was added, anchored by what I believe is the only Nordstrom in CT.

It's a big mall; if you put your mind and body to it you can work up a real sweat walking around it before the stores open at 10 am.-- Rick

Thu Aug 17, 08:03:00 AM  
Blogger Scott Parsons said...

Wow, it's similar to Hilltop Mall in Richmond CA -- except for the Norstrom addition.
Definitely Taubman... you were right, we knew it right away.

Thu Aug 17, 12:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the same architects worked on the majority of Taubman's malls. The Mall at Short Hills (NJ) Fair Oaks Mall (VA) and Stamford Town Center all look alike.

Is that fountain at Westfarms still there?

Thu Aug 17, 05:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I visited Westfarms only once, back in 1987. The main thing that I remember was that it was hosting a LEGO traveling exhibit. Huge LEGO models on display included the US Capitol. This long predated the opening of Legoland California with its Miniland USA.

At the top of the stairs in this photo is a crafts store that was part of a chain. I believe it was called the Craft Showcase, which I can't quite sufficiently discern in this view. Evidently, it is another of those ubiquitous national mall tenants that have gone the way of the dinosaur.

Thu Aug 17, 10:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Farmington is home to the "Miss Porters School" , debutante city, most famous alum being Jackie Kennedy. I wonder if she ever shopped here. I'm thinking we need some good shoplifting stories on this blog to spice things up a little.

Fri Aug 18, 06:26:00 AM  
Blogger Cora said...

There's a Legoland in the US now? The mind boggles.

Fri Aug 18, 05:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The fountain is gone.

Didn't Gloria Vanderbilt also attent Miss Porter's? Not that she's more famous than Jackie O, but I figured another name drop couldn't hurt.

For further Farmington star power though, I think 50 Cent lives in Mike Tyson's old place.

Fri Aug 25, 11:05:00 AM  
Blogger Nicholas M. DiMaio said...

I'm a 21 year old Connecticut native who grew up at this mall as I live in Farmington. I never saw the mall quite like this but I was around long enough to remember a few gems as well as some of which are in this picture and not like The Pie Plate, A&W Restaurant, the "Ti-Shop", Thom McAnn (complete with conveyer belt thingy inside the store which I can see in that photo) Langley's upscale clothing store, as well as Sage-Allen and G. Fox both anchoring the mall.

I began disliking this mall around the time the expansion came in 1997 (was there for the ribbon ceremony) as it rose from the 1980s-ness the mall had throughout the late 80s to mid 90s. It seemed to attract more of the West Hartford Center snobby feel and kind of took away from the relaxing small town mall it once was.

Where ever did you find this photo? It's like a godsend seeing this mall as it was back then. You know, it generally hasn't changed too, too much.

I've got some pictures of the mall on my site both exterior and interior, especially of the memorable art monuments of each end of the original mall which predate back to the day for sure.

Wed Sep 20, 12:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Westfarms is the PREMIER mall in CT. I've been shopping here for years and can remember as far back as 1979 going here. This mall pre-dated Stamford Towne Center as the upscale mall and is still referred to as the place "Connecticut Shops". When working for Filene's in the early 90's, the Westfarms store did the most dollars in sales/day out of not only all the Filene's locations, but out of all the other May Company store divisions as well. Rumour has it that the current Macy's location will be give a A+ rating, second only to the Herald Square location in NYC. This is big news for such a store, meaning it will incorporate a multi-million dollar restoration and include most items found in Herald Square. The current Macy's location takes over 2 areas, the former G.Fox (also at its time the #1 store in the chain) and Sage-Allen dept store as well, for men's and furniture. I can recall other stores that are gone due to the 80's boom and 90's losses, such as Sharper Image, FAO Schwarz. Westfarms has survived many ups and downs over the past 20yrs. Stamford should be so lucky however. Once the premium mall of the state, its nothing more now then a group of chain stores that can be found almost anywhere. In it's heyday, Stamford producuced some of the first offsite locations of Fendi & Black-Starr & Frost...Now mostly mundane stores are there...The loss of the state's only Bloomingdales (freestanding) in 1989/1990 didn't help the decline of the mall and it certainly didn't hurt it either. The Lord & Taylor was relocated to the mall from West Hartford Center when the center was declining. It also was downsized as well at the newer location at Westfarms.

Sun Oct 15, 12:26:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh..the Pie Plate! I remember it well. How about the store on the second floor in the corner that had the big barrel of pickles!

Mon Dec 11, 09:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, I can't believe my eyes to look at this picture... I don't know if anyone will have the patience to read my story about this mall but here goes... my high school years were 76 through 80, we used to skip school to come to this mall, I remember going to see "The Kentucky Fried Movie" here... anyway, in my freshman year, all of my friends were in Jazz band and they played on these steps at christmastime... I went with my friends just to watch the performance, but for some reason, maybe just the whole atmosphere of christmas carols, etc., watching them play gave me the bug for the first time to want to play a musical instrument. I remember watching the trumpet players and thinking, 'okay, that's it. Before my high school days are over, I'm going to be standing up there with the jazz band, playing trumpet like that at christmastime.' I found an old cornet in a friend's closet, got some music books, and taught myself how to read music and play trumpet for the next year. I went in at the start of my sophomore year in high school and the band teacher had no reason not to let me in the band, I could sight read anything he put before me. He did start me in third chair, though, and said I wasn't good enough for the jazz band... anyway, long story, but by my senior year, I was first trumpet in regular band and third in jazz band.
And yes, I did stand on that very stage in my senior year and play christmas carols with the jazz band, just as I envisioned it.

Part two of this tale involves getting drunk after graduation and throwing my trumpet in the lake(along with my 'Most Valuable Speller" award from the spelling team, but that truly is another story...

Sun Jan 20, 06:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Erika said...

While in high school, in the Spring of 1976, I was the Easter Bunny in the center court of the Westfarms Mall, alternating the role with my best friend Mary; one of us took Polaroid photos of uncooperative kids-on-lap while the other was the rabbit. We both dreaded every claustrophobic minute inside that thick, sticky, dirty-white fake-fur polyester costume - but were delighted to make three dollars an hour, quite a bit above minimum wage then. Two summers later, I worked at Westfarms during the daytime in the G. Fox housewares department while rehearsing evenings with a local summer theatre company; sleep-deprived, I used to sneak into the back stock room on my brief breaks and nap on gaudy green leatherette bean-bag chairs still inside their huge pre-sale plastic bags (co-workers thought I was crazy, though I was merely young and resourceful - and so very tired). I'm now a playwright in Manhattan, enjoying your website as I research and retrace 70's memories. Thanks for the postcard picture; I'd forgotten about the fountain. I've been trying to remember the name of the second-floor makeup store, just above the center court, in which all the walls were lined with countless little canisters of facial colorings to sample; I never made a purchase, nor did I ever witness anyone else doing so, but I dipped my fingers in plenty of pots, always wondering why the pretty tints looked so strangely awful on my skin and how on earth they paid their rent.

Sun Jul 19, 02:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember Italian Delight with the big slices,and the guy's putting on a show with the dough. I grew up in New Britain in the 70's and mid 80's and have many fond memories of Westfarms. I also used to wonder if that big cylinder would ever roll down off of that stainless steel post! Ha. Is it even still there? But the mall got a little too pricey, so we shopped at Eblen's and New Brite Plaza. What u know bout that?

Wed Jun 02, 06:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I grew up and remember this mall so fondly in the 70s and 80s. It really lost it's soul in the 90s.

Saw lots of 80s slashers in the UA movie theater. It had three screens and they tore your ticket at the front and you could wander into whatever you wanted to see. Also remember seeing the Star Wars films here.

Italian Delight was a huge teen hang out. Not a hang out but loved the hot dogs at Frankly Speaking across the way. There was this awesome pretzel place there too and still crave the pretzels with hot cheese on them.

We had a shoplifting stage and unfortunately lifted quite a bit from these stores. The majority of it was from Tape World and Musicland which I think became a Sam Goody. We'd also go in after hours and reach through the closed gates and steal stuff that was on display. Then would return it to another store to get stuff we wanted. I remember having about a dozen Paula Abdul albums yanked from a rack one night. We used to also steal Iron Maiden shirts from a place, think it was Spencer Gifts.

They also had this awesome cheese shop that always had pickle samples to eat. There was this weird place called Jewel Tree that had these crazy glowing displays and we'd hang out there when we got high. Also remember there was a Magic Pan crepe place that later became a Pizzaria Uno.

Malls suck now, this place was awesome.

Fri Nov 02, 04:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A friend of mine worked at the Pie Plate and warned us never to eat there. There was an older guy that had been working in the kitchen for years and apparently got his rocks off on screwing with the food.

He wouldn't eat anything there unless he made it himself.

Fri Nov 02, 08:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes!!! I remember when I was a kid I always had to get a pickle from that place. Good times back then. Then late 70's through the 80's.

Fri Jan 08, 08:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fountain is removed. Replaced by sitting areas

Mon Jan 22, 02:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What was the name of that place with the pickles?

Mon Jan 22, 02:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: Pickles - was there a Reins Deli there at some point? I hung out here in the late 70's too and drove there from East of the River as it was the best mall in the state. Made a day of it. We used to go to Italian Delite and drink Singapore Slings when we were 16. Always went to the movies while we were there. Pretty sure they had a Weathervane and a 5, 7, 9 shop there.

Thu Aug 23, 11:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anyone remember there was like an old-timey style of restaurant in there back in the 70s, with like a barbershop quartet logo on the front, i think the waitresses even wore candy stripes, they served ice cream and stuff. i wanna say it was called katy's but i don't think that's right. anybody remember what it was called?

Mon Sep 17, 12:01:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I grew up about a mile from memories when I was in junior high and high school are of Musicland, Herman's sports shop and the movie theater. Later on, in college, I spent a lot of $$ at Silverman's, buying the latest "cool" clothes for clubbing. Then the movie theater turned into Chi-Chi's mexican restaurant and of course The Italian Delight right next door. Easy place to get pitchers of beer even if you weren't quite legal. ;-)

Wed Aug 19, 06:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The old time ice cream place was Kathy John’s. The main location was near UConn but they opened a second location in the mall.

Sun Jan 17, 08:50:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

To see more posts, click on the monthly links
in the "Archives" section of the sidebar.