THE MALL
North Memorial Parkway / US 72 and University Drive Northwest / US 72
Huntsville, Alabama

The first stores in the Rocket City's first fully-enclosed mall opened March 2, 1966. Originally conceived as the MADISON MALL SHOPPING CENTER, the name of the complex was shortened to simply THE MALL before business began.

THE MALL was built by the Levine-Huntsville Development Corporation. It sat on a 44 acre parcel, located 1 mile northwest of downtown. The original 425,000 square foot, single-level complex was anchored by 1-level (81,000 square foot), Birmingham-based Loveman's Of Alabama (the chain's second branch store) and 2-level (126,700 square foot) "Penneys".

There were originally forty-four store spaces. Charter tenants included Piccadilly Cafeteria, Hickory Farms of Ohio, Jarman Shoes, Kinney Shoes, Lerner Shops, Warden's Barber Shop, Gateway Book Shop, National Shirt Shops and Casual Corner.

The Martin Theatres Alabama Theatre opened January 21, 1966. It was originally a single-screen venue, built as a northern outparcel of the mall. The cinema was twinned in March 1981 and shuttered in July 1985. It had a brief stint as a dinner cinema between 1986 and 1988.

By the mid-1970s, THE MALL had three competing shopping centers within close proximity; HEART OF HUNTSVILLE MALL (1961) {1 mile southeast}, DUNNAVANT'S MALL (1965) {1.4 miles southeast} and PARKWAY CITY MALL (1976) {2.2 miles southeast}. However, these retail rivals coexisted peacefully through the 1960s and '70s.

THE MALL began to decline in May 1980, when its Loveman's was shuttered. Damaging competition came from MADISON SQUARE MALL {3.4 miles west}, a superregional complex dedicated in October 1984. THE MALL was on life support by 1988, when J.C. Penney closed its doors.

Huntsville's Scott McLain purchased the struggling shopping facility in 1997. By this time, the Loveman's space had been divided and leased as Toys "R" Us and Books-A-Million stores. The eventual plan was to raze THE MALL entirely and build a high-end, lifestyle center. However, Toys "R" Us and Books-A-Million (two middle market merchandisers) were unwilling to vacate. The original plan was amended, with a simple power center being built.

The majority of THE MALL was razed in April 1998. The Loveman's building was left standing. It was joined by a 1-level (107,500 square foot) Home Depot, 1-level (162,600 square foot) Costco, (24,000 square foot) Staples, and Bennigan's and Zaxby's restaurants.

These were incorporated into THE FOUNTAIN, whose stores opened between the spring of 1999 and summer of 2002. The name of the retail hub was derived from a large water feature, previously in the Center Court of THE MALL, that now stood in a traffic circle at the center of the shopping center.

Sources:

"Huntsville" article on Wikipedia
http://www.deadmalls.com / "The Mall" post by Evans Criswell
http://www.hsvity.com (Huntsville City website)
Madison County, Alabama Tax Assessor website
http://www.hsvmovies.com  (Evans Criswell)
www.cinematreasures.com


FAIR USE OF THE MALL PHOTO:

The photograph from The Huntsville Madison County Public Library illustrates a key moment in the history of The Mall  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.