MIDDLETOWN MALL
Fairmont Avenue / US 250 and David Circle
Marion County (White Hall), West Virginia

The first shopping mall in the Mountain State was located in its north-central sector. MIDDLETOWN MALL, so named due to its location between the cities of Morgantown and Clarksburg, was situated on 31.2 acres, located 5 miles southwest of downtown Fairmont. The single-level shopping complex opened for business in 1969.

Originally encompassing 532,200 leasable square feet, the fully-enclosed MIDDLETOWN MALL was designed by Carl E. Barefoot. It was developed by the Johnstown, Pennsylvania-based Crown American Realty Trust and Boston-based First Union Real Estate Equity & Mortgage Investment Company.

A 1-level (97,700 square foot) Sears anchored the complex, along with a 1-level (65,000 square foot) Grant City discount mart. The center's junior anchor was a 1-level (40,000 square foot), Clarksville, West Virginia-based Parsons-Souders.

Charter inline stores included Lerner Shops, The Jones Department Store, Thrift Drug, Scruffy Pet Shop, Orange Bowl, Orange Julius, Chess King, Jo-Ann Fabrics and a J.G. McCrory 5 & 10.

Commercial competition arrived with the dedication of MOUNTAINEER MALL {17.1 miles northeast, in Monongalia County}, in 1975. Next came MEADOWBROOK MALL {11 miles southwest, in Bridgeport}, which was completed in 1982. MORGANTOWN MALL {16.9 miles northeast, in Monongalia County} opened in 1990.

The only expansion ever done to MIDDLETOWN MALL added a 1-level (60,000 square foot), Johnstown, Pennsylvania-based Gee Bee discount mart. This was completed in May 1975. In the previous year, Parsons-Souder's had been acquired, and rebranded, by Wheeling-based Stone & Thomas.

Grant City was in operation until the mid-1970s. After the Grants chain folded, the MIDDLETOWN MALL store was leased by the Knoxville-based Ira A. Watson Company, a.k.a. Watson's, which was a discount retailer. After this store closed, its space was leased by Allentown, Pennsylvania-based Hess's. They opened their 33rd store, in the old Watson's space, in early 1985. Hess's was in business until 1995.

Sears had vacated their store in 1989. The space was taken by a Canton, Massachusetts-based Hills discount mart. This closed in 1998, with Rocky Hill, Connecticut-based Ames moving into the space.

Gee Bee shut down. Its store space was leased as office suites in 1993. Stone & Thomas was acquired, and rebranded, by Dayton, Ohio-based Elder-Beerman in 1998. The mall's Ames store was shuttered in October 2001. The Elder-Beerman at MIDDLETOWN MALL was short-lived. By late 2000, it had also been shuttered.

Morgantown-based Stephen Fansler had bought the mall in July 1998. The area surrounding, and including, MIDDLETOWN MALL was incorporated, as the City of White Hall, December 8, 1992.

With two of its anchors vacant, the mall went into foreclosure in 2002. A loan was secured. Pin Oak Properties (under the auspices of Stephen Fansler) was created to own and operate the shopping center.

The north anchor, originally Sears, was subdivided into four spaces. A Sav-A-Lot supermarket and Ace Hardware opened, in two of these, in 2004. Offices for Lockheed Martin, and the Colasessano's Pizza Parlor, occupied the remainder of the building. By this time, offices in the old Gee Bee structure had expanded, taking up a great deal of the mall's remaining inline store space.

In November 2004, Sears came back to MIDDLETOWN MALL, following a 15-year hiatus. They opened a Catalog & Appliance store in a southwest parking area outparcel, previously operated as a supermarket.

Most recently, MIDDLETOWN MALL enjoyed an occupancy rate of 98 percent. Its area was being leased as retail and office spaces. Administrative and professional tenants include the State of West Virginia and Lockheed Martin. Retailers operating in the shopping center include BBT Bank, Hank's Deli, Fashion Bug, Dollar General, GNC, Diane's Hallmark, Subway, D & S Collectibles and Goodwill Industries.

Sources:

Mrs. Betty L. Schmidt, Middletown Mall Office Manager / Marketing Director
http://www.loopnet.com
Comment post by "Anonymous"
The Morning Call (Allentown, PA)
The Observer-Reporter (Washington, PA)
http://web.mountain.net (Town of White Hall)