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 SHV was completed. Encompassing 280 acres, the Harper's Mine parcel was situated 9.9 miles east of center city Pittsburgh's Golden Triangle and was entirely within the city limits of suburban Monroeville.

A fully-enclosed, bi-level complex of one hundred and twenty-five stores and services 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 supplied 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.

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 theatrical venue at MONROEVILLE MALL, the Jerry Lewis Twin Cinema, was a northwestern outparcel. It opened in the early 1970s, was converted to the Monroeville Mall Twin and was then expanded into the Cinemette East, a 4-plex, which showed its first features August 29, 1973. 

At the center of the original mall, on its Lower Level, was the Ice Palace, a large, indoor ice arena promoted as "a new rink-le in shopping". The 1,014,750 square foot shopping complex also featured a lava rock waterfall and several pond areas with bridged crossings. The combined square footage of MONROEVILLE MALL and its freestanding ANNEX SHOPS was 1,125,000 leasable square feet.

In its western court area, facing the Gimbels department store, was the 32-foot-high Clock of Nations. Designed by Los Angeles' Gere Kavanaugh, who also envisaged the Clock of Nations at Rochester, New York's MIDTOWN PLAZA, the MONROEVILLE MALL clock had twelve animated puppets. One puppet gave a show on the hour, with all twelve performing simultaneously twice a day. In the eastern court, facing Horne's, was a large, circular fountain that was surrounded by a seating area. 

Shopping hubs in the MONROEVILLE MALL trade area included EASTLAND SHOPPING PLAZA (1963) / 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 had become passe' and was shuttered. It and the surrounding space were renovated into the Treats Food Court, a 15-bay culinary complex which officially opened November 17, 1984. It included a glass elevator that resembled a British "telephone box" (phone booth).

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 August 13, 1987. Kaufmann's had relocated from a freestanding location in Monroeville that had opened in 1961. 

The interior of the mall was also given an upgrade between January and August 1987. The Gimbels, now 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 soiree 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 expanded with a third level...being enlarged into a 240,400 square foot operation. At the south end of the shopping hub, the ANNEX SHOPS were also enlarged by 23,000 square feet. A Burlington Coat Factory was the primary tenant of this peripheral plaza. 

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

The next major change at MONROEVILLE MALL had involved the Horne's store, rebranded as a Columbus-based Lazarus October 1, 1994. A second rebranding, into a Lazarus-Macy's, took place August 1, 2003. This was followed by the installation of a Macy's banner 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, so Kaufmann's was converted into a Reading, Pennsylvania-based Boscov's on August 26, 2006. This location would be in operation until October 2008, when it was shuttered along with ten "underperforming" stores.

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 shopping hub was also performed. With all work finished, MONROEVILLE MALL and THE ANNEX housed 1,466,400 leasable square feet and over one hundred and eighty stores and services.

The vacant Gimbels / Kaufmann's / Boscov's was renovated and re-opened, as a new J.C. Penney location, September 28, 2012. The downsized Penney's occupied the second and third floors of the building and encompassed 110,000 square feet. The circa-1969 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 came inline September 12, 2013.

The first floor space of the old Gimbels / Kaufmann's / Boscov's was rebuilt into a (54,000 square foot) Dick's Sporting Goods, a relocation of a circa-1995 store in the outparcel ANNEX SHOPS strip center. The new Dick's, now a physical part of MONROEVILLE MALL, 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.