TURNPIKE MALL
Western Avenue / US 202 and Whitten Road
Augusta, Maine

The Pennsylvania Turnpike, which was first long-distance limited-access highway in the United States, opened to traffic in October 1940. The dedication of the nation's second modern motorway -the Maine Turnpike- took place in December 1947. A 66-mile, Kittery-to-Augusta extension of the so-called "mile-a-minute highway" was dedicated in December 1955. This roadway would eventually be incorporated into the route of today's Interstate 95 expressway.

Meanwhile, in 1969, the first enclosed shopping center in Maine was completed. TURNPIKE MALL, so named because of its proximity to the Maine Turnpike, encompassed 214,900 leasable square feet. The single-level, fully-enclosed strip center was situated on 21.9 acres, located 1.6 miles northwest of the Maine State House.

TURNPIKE MALL was anchored by a 1-level (77,500 square foot) Sears and 1-level (60,000 square foot), Natick, Massachusetts-based Zayre discount mart. There were also a J.G. McCrory 5 & 10, Rix Drug and Mr. Paperback book store among the ten charter tenants.

Commercial competitors in the vicinity of TURNPIKE MALL were AUGUSTA PLAZA (1961) {1.3 miles east, in Augusta}, CAPITOL SHOPPING CENTER (1967) {.9 of a mile east, also in Augusta} and, eventually, MARKETPLACE AT AUGUSTA (1995) {2.1 miles northeast, in Kennebec County}.

A single-screen, in-mall theatrical venue, the Turnpike Mall Cinema, opened for business in 1975. It was converted into a Cinema I & II before being shuttered. The south anchor was converted from the Zayre to Ames nameplate in October 1989. Ames closed in August 2002.

The 60,000 square foot building would sit vacant for nearly 4 years. In the meantime, TURNPIKE MALL was acquired by Boston-based Taurus New England Investments. They renovated the vacant Ames and divided it into two units; a (35,000 square foot) Bed, Bath & Beyond and (25,000 square foot) Christmas Tree Shops. These retail outlets, both based in Union, New Jersey, opened November 21, 2006.

Sources:

"Maine Turnpike" article on Wikipedia
http://sites.google.com/site/zayre88/turnpike-mall
http://tiholdings.com
http://www.kennebechistorical.org
www.scribd.com / "Maine Movie Theatres and Drive-Ins" / Mike Rivest