MONROEVILLE MALL
William Penn Highway / US 22 and Mall Drive
Monroeville, Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh's Don-Mark Realty, who developed the city's SOUTH HILLS VILLAGE MALL in the mid-1960s, set their sites on an east side tract after SOUTH HILLS VILLAGE was completed. Encompassing 280 acres, the Harper's Mine parcel was located 9.9 miles east of center city Pittsburgh's Golden Triangle. The site was within the city limits of suburban Monroeville.

A fully-enclosed, bi-level complex was designed by Walter Heumann and Don Morganelli, with the firm of Hoffman, Loeffler & Wolfe signing on as project architects. Grading work at the site commenced in 1966, with construction on the 30 million dollar mall getting underway in 1967.

MONROEVILLE MALL was dedicated May 13, 1969. There was a short ice skating exhibition and ribbon cutting, with music provided by the Gateway High School Band. Opening along with the shopping center were a 2-level (200,000 square foot), Gimbels-Pittsburgh and 2-level (210,400 square foot) J.C. Penney. A 2-level (160,300 square foot), Pittsburgh-based Joseph Horne Company began business August 28, 1969.

The shopping facility encompassed 1,014,800 leasable square feet and contained one hundred and twenty-five stores and services. Charter tenants included Reizenstein's, Baker's Shoes, House of Nine, Lerner Shops, DeRoy Jewelers, Singer Sewing Center, National Record Mart, Chandler's Shoes, Peck & Peck, Hughes & Hatcher, The Fabric Tree, Sweet William Restaurant, A Shop Called East and a G.C. Murphy 5 & 10.

A 110,200 square foot store strip, known as The ANNEX SHOPS, was situated along the south rim of the parking area. It housed an A & P supermarket, So-Fro Fabrics, US Post Office and liquor store among its fifteen tenant spaces.  

The first movie theater at the shopping complex, the Jerry Lewis Monroeville Mall Cinemas, was a northwestern outparcel. This twin venue opened in 1971 and was soon renamed the Monroeville Mall Twin. The complex was expanded into a 4-screen operation which re-opened, as the Cinemette Theatres Monroeville Mall 4, on August 29, 1973. 

On the Lower Level of the original mall was the Ice Palace, an indoor ice arena promoted as "a new rink-le in shopping". The interior mallway also featured a lava rock waterfall and several pond areas with bridged crossings.

In the West Court, facing Gimbels, was the 32-foot-high Clock of Nations. It was designed by Los Angeles' Gere Kavanaugh, who also envisaged the Clock of Nations at Rochester, New York's MIDTOWN PLAZA. The clock at MONROEVILLE MALL had twelve animated puppets. Each gave a show on the hour, with all twelve performing simultaneously twice a day. In the mall's East Court, facing Horne's, was a circular fountain surrounded by a large seating area. 

Shopping hubs in the MONROEVILLE MALL trade area included EASTLAND MALL (1973-2007) {3.7 miles southwest, in Allegheny County}, CENTURY III MALL (1979) { 9.7 miles southwest, in West Mifflin} and ROSS PARK MALL (1986) {13.5 miles northwest, also in Allegheny County}.

MONROEVILLE MALL was first renovated in the early 1980s. The Ice Palace, considered passe' by this time, was shuttered and rebuilt as the Treats Food Court. This 15-bay culinary complex was dedicated November 17, 1984. It included a glass elevator that resembled a British "telephone box" (or "phone booth" as we say across the pond).

Further renovations were completed 3 years later. Gimbels, shuttered August 23, 1986, was expanded with a third level. The store, now encompassing 262,000 square feet, re-opened as a Pittsburgh-based Kaufmann's on August 13, 1987. 

The interior of the mall was also given an upgrade between January and August 1987. The Kaufmann's Court was remodeled, with its Clock of Nations dismantled. New ceilings, skylights and landscaping were also installed in the mall's common area.

The complex was rededicated with a Monroeville Mall Mardis Gras event held concurrently with the Kaufmann's grand opening.  A few months later, the Horne's store on the opposite end of mall was rededicated. It had also been expanded with a third level, enlarging it to 240,400 square feet. At the south end of the shopping hub, the ANNEX SHOPS were also expanded. Burlington Coat Factory opened a new store in the peripheral plaza. 

By 1987, the freestanding cinema was operating as the Monroeville 4. This lasted until late 1998. The movie house was demolished and replaced by a new Best Buy, which opened for business October 5, 1999.

The next major change at MONROEVILLE MALL involved the Horne's store, which was rebranded as a Columbus-based Lazarus on October 1, 1994. The store morphed into a Lazarus-Macy's on August 1, 2003 and became a bona fide Macy's on February 1, 2005.

Due to the 2005 May-Federated merger, the Kaufmann's chain ceased to exist. Macy's was already operating a store at MONROEVILLE MALL by this time. Kaufmann's was converted into a Reading, Pennsylvania-based Boscov's on August 26, 2006. This store would be in operation until October 2008, when it was shuttered along with ten "underperforming" Boscov's locations.

Meanwhile, a new mall proprietor had come on the scene. Chattanooga's CBL & Associates Properties purchased MONROEVILLE MALL in July 2004. At the time of the closing, an 80,000 square foot lifestyle-type expansion, known at as THE VILLAGE, was under construction. CBL completed the project, which was located at the mall's North Entrance. 

Renamed THE DISTRICT AT MONROEVILLE MALL, the open-air addition was formally dedicated June 17, 2005. It included a (26,000 square foot) Barnes & Noble, as well as Coldwater Creek, Jos. A. Bank and Ulta Beauty.

As THE DISTRICT was being completed, a 10 million dollar interior renovation of the existing mall was also performed. With all work finished, MONROEVILLE MALL and THE ANNEX housed 1,466,400 leasable square feet, with a combined tenant list of over one hundred and eighty stores and services.

The vacant Boscov's was renovated and re-opened, as a new J.C. Penney, September 28, 2012. This downsized Penney's occupied the second and third floors of the building and encompassed 110,000 square feet.

The original Penney's was then gutted. The majority of its area became the state-of-the-art Cinemark Monroeville Mall 12, which showed its first features November 7, 2013. The first floor of the old Penney's was carved into a (20,000 square foot) H & M. It made its debut on September 12, 2013.

The first floor space of the old Boscov's was rebuilt into a (54,000 square foot) Dick's Sporting Goods. This store, a relocation of an existing ANNEX SHOPS location, held its official dedication August 3, 2014.

Sources:

"Monroeville Mall" article on Wikipedia
The Pittsburgh Press
www.cinematreasures.org
www.cblproperties.com (CBL & Associates Properties)


FAIR USE OF MONROEVILLE MALL IMAGES

The graphics and photos from the Pittsburgh Press, Laurel Group Incorporated / United Film Distribution Company and CBL & Associates Properties illustrate a key moment in the mall's history that is described in the article. The graphics and photos are of lower resolution than the originals (copies made from them would be of inferior quality). The images are not replaceable with free-use or public domain images. The use of the graphics and photos do not limit the copyright owners' rights to distribute the images in any way. The images are being used for informational purposes only, and their use is not believed to detract from the original images in any way.