MONDAWMIN CENTER
Gwynns Falls Parkway and Reisterstown Road
Baltimore (City), Maryland

The James W. Rouse Company's first major shopping complex was built on a 46 acre plot, located 3 miles northwest of Baltimore's center city. At one time a country estate, the site was developed into a 450,000 square foot retail hub, originally known as MONDAWMIN CENTER.

The name MONDAWMIN was derived from a Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem about "Mondamin", the Native American spirit of the cornfields. Cartographers charting the city of Baltimore and its neighborhoods eventually added the "w".

In the mid-1950s, a suburban-type shopping center located so near to a downtown core was quite a novel concept. James Rouse would later dub it "urban renewal". His 2-level (with basement) shopping complex, designed by Pietro Belluschi, was situated around an open-air concourse.

An official dedication was held October 4, 1956. In attendance were James Rouse, Governor Theodore R. McKeldin (R) and Thomas D. Alesandro, Mayor of Baltimore. MONDAWMIN CENTER was anchored by a 3-level (189,500 square foot) Sears on its east and Penn Fruit supermarket on the west. Charter tenants included Franklin Simon, Bond Clothes, Lerner Shops, the White Coffee Pot Cafe, a Food Fair supermarket and G.C. Murphy 5 & 10.

Retail rivals included WESTVIEW CENTER (1958) {4.4 miles southwest, in Baltimore County}, REISTERSTOWN ROAD PLAZA (1962) {3.5 miles northwest, in Baltimore (City)} and SECURITY SQUARE MALL (1972) {4.8 miles west, in Baltimore County}.

Although it took nearly 3 years for all fifty-eight tenant spaces to be leased, MONDAWMIN CENTER was successful by the late 1950s. Within a few years, it would be renovated into a fully-enclosed structure. Its official re-dedication took place October 2, 1963, with the name of the complex being changed to MONDAWMIN MALL.

Sears pulled up stakes in April 1973. As a result, several other national chains bolted from the center. The vacancy rate soared and Rouse sold the ailing complex. By 1978, it was only 83-percent leased. The Rouse Company bought back the complex in 1979 and completed a renovation in December 1982. During this project, the interior was refurbished. The vacant Sears was also sectioned into inline stores, with the new mall within a mall dubbed Metro Plaza.

The early '80s remodeling was capped-off by the dedication of Baltimore's initial Charles Center-to-Reisterstown Plaza Metro system, on November 21, 1983. The new subway included a station stop in the parking lot of the shopping center.

The Social Security Administration and Maryland Department of Motor Vehicles both located regional hub offices as outparcels of the mall. The revitalized shopping hub rode a wave of success throughout the 1980s. However, by the late 1990s, the facility was -once again- in a downward spiral.

The Rouse Company proposed a second redevelopment in 1999, but this never got off the ground. With the 2004 purchase of The Rouse Company, by Chicago-based General Growth Properties, MONDAWMIN MALL was added to the GGP portfolio.

General Growth revived plans for a mall  renovation, with construction getting underway in early 2007. The existing structure was refitted with widened mallways and glass entrances. New lighting, flooring, signage, restrooms and exterior landscaping were also installed.

The 68 million dollar project added three new stores. A (67,000 square foot) Shoppers Food & Pharmacy was dedicated November 17, 2007. A 1-level (127,000 square foot) Target held its grand opening July 27, 2008. Lastly, a (22,000 square foot) A.J. Wright welcomed its first shoppers on August 8, 2008. MONDAWMIN MALL now encompassed 700,000 leasable square feet and contained one hundred and eighteen stores and services under its roof.

A.J. Wright was shuttered, along with the entire chain, in February 2011. Marshalls, another TJX Companies division, opened in the store space on March 17, 2011. Target shuttered their MONDAWMIN store on February 3, 2018.

Sources:

The New York Times
www.baltimorestyle.com "From Hope to Heritage: The Story of Mondawmin" / Jamie Michael Kendrick / Maryland Transit Administration / April 2002
www.ggp.com (General Growth Properties)
http://www.stevenswain.blogspot.com
http://www.mtamaryland.com
Maryland Department of Taxation website


FAIR USE OF MONDAWMIN CENTER IMAGES AND TARGET TRADEMARK:

The graphics from The Baltimore Afro-American and the Target Corporation trademark illustrate key moments in the mall's history that are described in the article. The images are of lower resolution than the original (copies made would be of inferior quality). The images are not replaceable with free-use or public-domain images. The use of the images does not limit the copyright owners' rights to distribute them in any way. The images are being used for non-profit, informational purposes only and their use is not believed to detract from the original images in any way.