CONNECTICUT POST CENTER
Boston Post Road / US 1 and Interstate 95
Milford, Connecticut

Building began on the Nutmeg State's first shopping mall in November 1957. Developed by New York City's Sol Atlas and designed by Lathrop Douglas and Jesse James Hamblin, CONNECTICUT POST CENTER occupied a 75 acre parcel, located 6 miles southwest of downtown New Haven, in the suburb of Milford.

The mall site was adjacent to a newly-completed segment of the Connecticut Turnpike (Interstate 95). The 500,000 square foot, open-air complex, hailed as the largest between New York City and Boston, consisted of a single level of retail with a service basement beneath.

The first stores in the 30 million dollar shopping venue opened for business September 14, 1960. The shopping center grand opening, the first in the nation to be held at night, commenced at 7 pm. It included fireworks, a parade, dancing, fashion shows, concerts and appearances by several dignitaries..

The tenant list of the original retail center included County Hardware, Franklin Simon, Kennedy's of New England, a W.T. Grant variety store, Bradlees discount mart, S.S. Kresge 5 & 10 and Stop & Shop supermarket.

New York City-based Alexander's opened a 3-level (155,000 square foot) anchor store at CONNECTICUT POST CENTER on August 21, 1962. This was the sixth unit in the chain and the first outside the New York City metropolitan area. A single-screen Showcase Cinema was completed in 1964, as a southwest parking lot outparcel. It eventually became a 4-screen venue.

TRUMBULL SHOPPING PARK {5 miles west, in Trumbull} became the first retail competitor, in 1964. This was followed by CHAPEL SQUARE MALL, New Haven's downtown redevelopment shopping center, which was completed in 1967.

By the early 1970s, several charter tenants at CONNECTICUT POST CENTER had been replaced by new stores and services. These included Giftique, Lynn's Hallmark, Whelan Drug, Friendly Frost Appliances and a Hill's supermarket. The Post Mini-Mall housed twelve stores and services.

A SkyShield type of partial enclosure was installed over the main mallway in the late 1970s. This afforded some protection from the elements, but did not provide for heating or air-conditioning of the space. The mall's second anchor, a 1-level (83,400 square foot), Norwalk, Connecticut-based Caldor, opened, at the south end of the complex, April 27, 1977.

In 1981, Australia-based Westfield Holdings (now the Westfield Group) acquired the complex and renovated it into a fully-enclosed and climate-controlled structure, which was known, henceforth, as CONNECTICUT POST MALL (also commonly known as "MILFORD MALL").

Alexander's became the first of the original anchors to close, in 1988. This store re-opened as a J.C. Penney in 1991. At the same time, the shopping center was undergoing a second renovation / expansion, to the tune of 75 million dollars. A 2-level (150,000 square foot), Hartford-based G. Fox was built in front of the Main Entrance. This became a Boston-based Filene's in 1993. In the following year, the basement was refitted as a second mall concourse (Level 1). In addition, the Sky View Food Court was installed on the newly-constructed Level 3.

The official name of the mall was changed to WESTFIELD SHOPPINGTOWN CONNECTICUT POST in November 1998. More expansions were to come. The Stop & Shop supermarket moved to a free-standing location. Its store on the north end of the mall was razed, with a 2-level (178,000 square foot) Sears taking its place in the year 2000. The Caldor, at the mall's south end, closed in 1999. Its building became a furniture store.

The most recent reconfiguration of the mall got underway in October 2004. This addition saw the razing of the old Caldor and some of the adjacent stores on the south end. These were replaced by 480,000 square feet of new retail and entertainment; including a 1-level (125,000 square foot) Target, 1-level (84,000 square foot) Dick's Sporting Goods, Cinema de Lux 14 multiplex, new 9-bay Food Court, children's play area and a family lounge. Two parking garages were also constructed.

Moreover, a third level -consisting of 75,000 square feet- was added to Filene's, which was rebranded as a Macy's in September 2006. The store now encompassed 225,000 square feet. The existing J.C. Penney was modernized, as well. The remodeled mall was dedicated in the spring of 2006.

With the latest renovations, WESTFIELD CONNECTICUT POST (as its "down under" owners rechristened it in mid-2005) encompassed 952,600 leasable square feet and housed over one hundred and fifty stores and services. Its Cinema de Lux 14 was rebranded as a Rave Motion Pictures venue in May 2010. In November of the same year, one of its auditoriums re-opened as an IMAX theater.

Sources:

"Westfield Connecticut Post" article on Wikipedia
"Filene's" article on Wikipedia
www.contact.com / "Keys To The Highway" / Melissa Nicefaro / July 8, 2002
www.fusco.com (Fusco Construction)
Assessor's Online Database For Milford County
"Wavz 13" Flickr Photostram
www.associatedcontent.com / "Cinema de Lux Key Feature In New Mall Addition" / Posted by Corey Sipe / August 15, 2006
www.westfield.com


FAIR USE OF CONNECTICUT POST IMAGE:

The graphic from The Bridgeport Sunday Herald illustrates a key moment in the mall's history that is described in the article. The image is of lower resolution than the original (copies made would be of inferior quality). The image is not replaceable with free-use or public-domain images. The use of the image does not limit the copyright owners' rights to distribute the image in any way. The image is being used for non-profit, informational purposes only and its use is not believed to detract from the original image in any way.

20 comments:

Kate said...

I Hope you get a chance to come back to Milford and see what has become of the Milford Post Mall. It has transformed into a huge city in of itself. The same with Trumbull

Jonah Norason said...

Did the Shop & Stop have an interior entrance?

The Curator said...

I've never been to CT POST MALL...but it would be safe to assume that the Stop And Shop did open onto the north mallway, back when the center was open-air.

After the enclosing, the store surely had an interior entrance into the mall. I believe the Sears (that now occupies the old S & S space) does.

Cheers,

Anonymous said...

As I recall the original attempt to "enclose" the mall was basically constructing a metal canopy down the middle of the center corridor. While this did a decent job of keeping out the precipitation it was still not able to be climate controlled since the canopy was not fully attached to the roofs of the stores, still leaving a somewhat open-air feel to the mall. The entrance corridors were also uncovered and also had no doors. I believe total enclosure came shortly thereafter when Westfield took over. The Stop&Shop store was a stand alone store at the North end of the mall. The entrance faced the end of the mall. While it was close, it was not directly connected to the mall. Prior to enclosure you walked out of the doors of S&S, onto a small open- air plaza. You could turn left or right to go to the parking lots or you could go straight across and into the open end of the mall. After enclosure there were doors to enter the mall. I think it might have shared the canopy at one time but it was never connected with walls.

The Curator said...

Anon,

Thanks for posting about CT POST.

I have reworked the circa-'60 site plan to show that the supermarket's entrance was not directly aligned with the main mallway.

Also, the copy has been revised to mention the partial enclosure (apparently added in the 1970s?).

Cheers,

Jonah Norason (Pseudo3D) said...

I've been researching the furniture store: I think it was "Huffman Koos" but I'm not sure.

The Curator said...

Jonah,

Keep me informed if you can confirm the name of the (Caldor store) furniture outlet.

I'll change the reference to read "Huffman Koos".

Cheers,

Anonymous said...

There were also several fires at the mall. In the 60s the Sid's Deli caught fire at the end that is nearest the theaters now. And in the center of the Mall was a CVS drug store and that had two fires. Also before it was enclosed, I worked in the basement level of Alexanders as the anchor stores did have a second underground floor which was attached to the truck tunnels beneath the entire mall. During that Christmas season in the late 60s, there was a transformer explosion in the tunnel which cut power to the entire mall and working in that underground level there was absolutely no light for about a minute. You couldn't even see your hand in front of your face, but you could smell the smoke coming in the loading bay doors. very scary. I'm still trying to find the name of the store that was there in the 60s that was similar to Service Merchandise. i think SM took over the original store. Where can i see the site map you referred to.

The Curator said...

Anon,

Thanks for posting all of the details.

Any site plan referred to in this article is within the article...CT POST site plans posted here are circa-1960, circa-2000 and circa- 2008.

Thanks again,

Anonymous said...

Do you remember Lum's Restaurant, with the red canopy? located next to Stop & Shop.

Do you remember All American Radio 15 WFIF, located at the malls southeast side (Sidewalk window studio) up until the early to mid 70's until the radio station moved from the mall to the swamp at the end of Kay Avenue in Milford.

The Curator said...

Anon,

No, I don't recall any of the stores and services you mentioned...

However, I greatly appreciate your posting info about them.

Cheers,

wavz13 said...

The name of the store that was there in the late 1960s and into the 1970s which was like Service Merchandise was called H.B.Davis Distrubutors. As a teenager, I used to buy 110 film and lots of cheap 3-for-a-buck Certron blank cassette tapes there. It was on the eastern side of the mall, right near Hills Supermarket. By the way, I've got almost 1000 1960s, 1970s photos of Milford up on Flickr.com. My Flickr name is WAVZ13. Have fun and hope they bring back many memories! (oh, yes... who remembers Child World at the Post Mall?)

The Curator said...

Wavz,

Thanks for posting. It's great that you now have so many photos of things from back in t he days.

I have practically none.....

If only I could have taken p;ics back then...

wavz13 said...

I'm really glad I took all those photos too. As a photography-obsessed teen,it was a lot of fun to capture images in large quantities (and the low film price at H.B. Davis made it possible).

Over the past 3 years, I've had all the 126 and 110 film negatives digitized and they're a pleasure to look at. Like a time machine of growing up in Milford.

I would take shots of everyday places and scenes around my neighborhood (Rock St and Merwin Ave) and around town as well

Here's a link to one of the photos of the Post Mall in 1974...

http://www.flickr.com/photos/wavz13/5328940102/

And here's a link to the entire Milford, Connecticut in the 60s, 70s set...

http://www.flickr.com/photos/wavz13/sets/72157623102932521/

Enjoy!

The Curator said...

I'm envious!

Thanks for posting

Anonymous said...

Was one of the stores called Chest King?

The Curator said...

Anon,

That chain (of men's apparel) was known as Chess King..the logo was a chess board playing piece (see the "1970 Shopping Mall" article)

http://mall-hall-of-fame.blogspot.com/search/label/A%201970%20Shopping%20Mall

Eklectic1 said...

Has anyone else mentioned Eli Moore's, Becks Shoes, the carmel corn place that was like a limestone castle (don't remember the name), Alexander's, Franklin Simon's, Silvers Gifts (they always had these amazingly crowded yet still shoppable glass window displays), the fabric/sewing store (don't remember the name, it was down toward the weird retro Stop & Shop, that, even in the early 80s still looked like a refugee from 1959), CVS drug store, Bakers/Leeds shoe store, Merle's Record Rack (how I loved that place!), and what I believe was a big Rexall drug store (where I used to buy Yardley Pot O'Glosses)? And a pizza place whose name I don't recall, but consumed many a calorie in? Sorry if some of these have been mentioned, but I was letting my kid mind wander in the past...and these were my haunts. And of course Kresge's, which always smelled of old fountain hot dogs. As for the S&S, I distinctly remember it NOT being part of the early roof-enclosure phase of the mall; on a rainy day, you had to go out through the glass doors of the mall and run across a cement walkway to get to S&S for your food shopping. And when you left with your shopping cart, the gutters rained down water in seeming buckets on the sidewalk...

The Curator said...

Eklectic 1,

Thanks much for posting the CT POST memories...hope you're having a great weekend. Cheers,

Randi said...

Does anyone remember The Alling Rubber Sporting Goods Store next to Sibs? Any pics?