THE MALL / MALL ST. MATTHEWS
Shelbyville Road / US 60 and Interstate 264
St. Matthews, Kentucky

The first shopping mall in the Commonwealth of Kentucky was developed on a 67 acre parcel, located 5.8 miles east of downtown Louisville, in suburban St. Matthews. The site was adjacent to the Henry Watterson Expressway (Interstate 264), whose first segment had opened to traffic in 1948.

Known simply as THE MALL, or SHELBYVILLE ROAD MALL, the single-level, fully-enclosed shopping center was built on land previously comprising the Arterburn Estate. The complex, designed by Baltimore's Rogers, Taliaferro, Kostritsky & Lamb firm, was the sixth mall built by Maryland's James Rouse Company and the fifth to be completed by its Community Research & Development subsidiary.

An official grand opening was held March 21, 1962. THE MALL was anchored by a 2-level (80,000 square foot), Louisville-based Kaufman's of Kentucky, 1-level (46,200 square foot), North Carolina-based P.H. Rose ("Roses") variety store and (20,400 square foot) A & P supermarket.

There were also Taylor Drug, Rodes-Rapier, Davidson's Milliners, Fleischer's ladies' wear, Cinderella Shoe Repair Shop, Alice Lace Shop, Bond Clothes, Benton's Tweed Shop, Maid Muller Candies, Baker's Shoes, Bell Brothers Shoes, Sutcliffe's Sporting Goods and Variety Records.

The original shopping center housed forty-two stores and services and encompassed approximately 308,000 leasable square feet. It was situated around two court areas. The West Court, fronting on Kaufman's, had a fountain and stairway to a small upper level, which housed public restrooms, a Community Room and entrance to the Kaufman's second floor. An over-sized chess set was adjacent to this court area. The East Court, fronting on Roses, featured a waterfall fountain and bird aviary.

Other shopping hubs in the trade area were MID-CITY MALL (1962) {5 miles southwest, in Louisville} (which was an enclosed, community-class shopping arcade with no anchors). GREENTREE MALL {8.7 miles northwest, in Clarksville, Indiana} opened, as a fully-enclosed, regional-class complex, in 1968.

An addition to THE MALL was soon undertaken, which included a 2-level (178,400 square foot) J.C. Penney. This store opened for business January 8, 1970. In 1971, OXMOOR CENTER {.8 of a mile east, in Louisville} was dedicated. This was followed by BASHFORD MANOR MALL {4 miles southwest, in West Buechel} which opened in 1973.

Kaufman's at THE MALL had closed in 1966. Stewart's, another Louisville-based department store, moved in in October of the same year. This morphed into an Indianapolis-based L.S. Ayres, on November 1, 1985.

The shopping hub had been officially known as MALL IN ST. MATTHEWS for some time. A renovation was undertaken in late 1987. During the first phase, a vacant L.S. Ayres was expanded, into a 195,000 square foot store, by Louisville's Bacon's chain. The new Bacon's made its debut in September 1988.

A second phase mall renovation had been underway since February 1988. During this project, a vacant Roses store was reconfigured as the 10-bay Picnic Food Court. Moreover, the official name of the shopping hub was shortened to MALL ST. MATTHEWS (the "In" being omitted). A dedication of newly-renovated areas was held November 16, 1989.  

By the early 1990s, MALL ST. MATTHEWS was in decline; this precipitated by the "too close for comfort" OXMOOR CENTER. In December 1991, a Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza Time Theatre in MALL ST. MATTHEWS was shuttered. Demolition was soon underway on the mall's north end.

A (25,000 square foot) Limited-Express Superplex was built, as the exterior of the shopping hub was given a face lift. New landscaping was also installed. Twenty new stores, some in the new Limited-Express Wing, opened for business in November 1992.

The renovation resulted in an upturn in business. This prompted the Rouse Company to begin another expansion in early 1994. This included construction of a new South Wing and third anchor department store. A 3-level (230,000 square foot) Dillard's began business March 26, 1995.

A fifth expansion of MALL ST. MATTHEWS added a 2-level (120,000 square foot) Lord & Taylor and multilevel parking garage. This project was dedicated October 21, 1998. With its completion, MALL ST. MATTHEWS became Kentucky's largest shopping mall, with 1,094,000 leasable square feet.

On August 15, 1999, Bacon's department stores were rebranded by the Dillard's chain, with the old Bacon's store at MALL ST. MATTHEWS re-opening as a Dillard's Men's & Children's location. The mall's original Dillard's was refashioned into a Women's store.

The dawn of a new century brought more changes. A deal, whereby Seattle-based Nordstrom was to open a new store at MALL ST. MATTHEWS, fell through in early 2001. Lord & Taylor shuttered their store on February 6, 2004.

The Rouse Company, builder and owner of the complex, was acquired by Chicago-based General Growth Properties in 2004. In 2007, the Dillard's Men's moved into the old Lord & Taylor space, leaving the previous location vacant. The original plan was to demolish the structure and replace it with an open-air "lifestyle component". However, the building was left intact, at least for the time being.

A 2-level (110,000 square foot) section was renovated and re-opened, as a Los Angeles-based Forever 21, February 12, 2011. This store relocated from a 7,000 square foot mall space. In mid-2012, plans were announced for a new theatrical venue. The remainder of the old Kaufman's store (the part not occupied by Forever 21) was gutted. The state-of-the-art Cinemark Mall St. Matthews 10 opened May 16, 2013.

Presently, MALL ST. MATTHEWS encompasses 1,076,200 leasable square feet and one hundred and forty stores and services. It is now the Bluegrass State's second-largest enclosed shopping mall, following Lexington's FAYETTE MALL, which -after its 2014-2015 renovation- encompasses 1,184,900 leasable square feet.

Forever 21 downsized their store into its first floor in 2017. The (45,000 square foot) second floor was refitted as a Dave & Buster's Grand Sports Cafe, which welcomed its first patrons in 2018.

Sources:

preservenet.cornell.edu/publications/Longstreth Branch Store.doc
The Courier-Journal
aboutnordstrom.com / "Nordstrom Cancels Plans For Louisville Store" / February 21, 2004
www.ggp.com (General Growth Properties)
www.macerich.com
Comment post by "Jonah Norason"
Malls Of America Blogspot / "Retro Louisville Malls" post