Hickory Road and West Germantown Pike
Montgomery County, Pennsylvania

In March 1963, plans were announced for what would become Greater Philadelphia's third fully-enclosed shopping center. The complex would be designed by Los Angeles' Victor Gruen Associates and Philadelphia's Alexander Ewing & Associates. Maryland's James W. Rouse Company, under the auspices of its Community Research & Development subsidiary, would be in charge of construction.

PLYMOUTH MEETING MALL was built on an 89-acre plot, formerly occupied by Meehan's Nursery. The site was located 19 miles northwest of Center City Philadelphia, in an unincorporated section of Montgomery County known as Plymouth Township. Ground was broken on October 21, 1964 for the first phase, a 3-level (214,600 square foot), Philadelphia-based Strawbridge & Clothier.

The new department store commenced operation on February 22, 1966. Sixty inline stores also made their debut. The grand opening celebration was attended by James W. Rouse, Stockton Strawbridge (President of Strawbridge & Clothier), and several local dignitaries. Twelve ceremonial ribbons were cut simultaneously.

Work commenced on the mall's second anchor on November 16, 1965. The 3-level (185,000 square foot), Philadelphia-based Lit Brothers was officially dedicated on October 10, 1966, as part of a twenty-five-store formal opening.

Charter tenants included Peoples Drug, A Shop Called East, The Fabric Tree, Mister Dunderbak's Bavarian Pantry, a (20,400 square foot) Food Fair supermarket and 2-level (71,000 square foot) F.W. Woolworth 5 & 10. The Gourmet Village, a 20-unit farmer's market, sold fresh fruits and vegetables. Prepared foods were also available. The General Cinema Corporation Cinema-On-The-Mall showed its first feature on June 29, 1966.

PLYMOUTH MEETING MALL encompassed approximately 800,000 leasable square feet and contained 110 stores and services. The interior of the 38 million dollar complex was decorated with two large fountains, a four-faced clock and Shefflera trees, Areca palms, Birdnest fern, and Lady palm plantings.

On January 10, 1970, a blaze ignited in the display window of the King's Men's Shop and spread through the Northeast Wing of the mall. Nearly thirty stores were damaged by flames, smoke or water. This portion of the complex was closed off for repairs. Stores re-opened incrementally, with some permanently relocating to other area shopping centers. The movie house was rebuilt as the On-The-Mall Cinema I & II, a twin-plex that debuted on December 25, 1970. By May 1971, all of the damaged stores had re-opened.

PLYMOUTH MEETING MALL encountered a second setback in the late 1970s. Pantry Pride (nee' Food Fair) and Lit Brothers were shuttered in May 1977. The vacant supermarket was divided into several new inline stores. The Lit's building sat vacant for over 2 years, which caused a sharp decline in business in the northeast section of the mall. The vacant anchor store was finally retenanted by Allentown, Pennsylvania-based Hess's. Their PLYMOUTH MEETING store welcomed its first shoppers on August 20, 1979.

A local Presbyterian congregation had held Sunday services in the Community Room of PLYMOUTH MEETING MALL since the center's grand opening days. They eventually built a sanctuary on the south side of the complex. The first services at their new Church On the Mall building were held in 1972.

The nearest regional shopping center to PLYMOUTH MEETING MALL was KING OF PRUSSIA PLAZA (1963) {5.7 miles southwest, in Montgomery County}. Other shopping centers in the PLYMOUTH MEETING trade area included MONTGOMERY MALL (1977) {8.2 miles northeast, in Montgomery County} and WILLOW GROVE PARK MALL (1982) {8.3 miles northeast, also in Montgomery County}.

Between November 1983 and November 1984, PLYMOUTH MEETING MALL was given a face lift. Sixteen new stores joined the tenant list and a 2-story antique carousel was added to the Hess's Court. At the same time, America's first Ikea was built as a southwestern outparcel. The 1-level (160,000 square foot) store opened for business on June 12, 1985.

The family-owned Strawbridge & Clothier chain was sold to May Department stores, of St. Louis, in July of 1996. As of July 24th, all stores, including the PLYMOUTH MEETING location, were officially promoted as "Strawbridge's." Hess's was shuttered in March 1993. This store re-opened, as a Reading, Pennsylvania-based Boscov's, on October 13, 1996.

In late 1996, a 50 million dollar remodeling of PLYMOUTH MEETING MALL got underway. The interior received another face lift, the Boscov's Court carousel was moved toward the center of the complex and three new mall entrances were built. PLYMOUTH MEETING MALL was officially re-dedicated December 10, 1998.

New stores and services included Bertucci's Brick Oven Pizza, Joyce Leslie ladies' wear, Super Footlocker Triplex, Bucks County Coffee and Bell Atlantic Nynex Mobile. The General Cinema Corporation Plymouth Meeting Mall 12, a freestanding structure, was also built in the southeast parking area. Its first features were shown on December 18, 1998. The Atrium Food Court, a 9-bay facility, was installed in the vacated cinema and opened in 1999.

With the new century came a new proprietor. The Philadelphia-based Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust acquired the complex in March 2003. On September 9, 2006, the PLYMOUTH MEETING Strawbridge's was rebranded by Macy's.

Soon after, adjacent store space was rebuilt as a 2-level (34,800 square foot) Dave & Buster's Grand Sports Cafe. Its grand opening was held in July 2008. On the south side of the mall, the first earth had been turned for an 84 million dollar mall expansion. The project, which got underway in May 2007, included demolition of the Ikea store (vacated in early 2003) and construction of a 143,500 square foot lifestyle wing known as the Plaza Shops.

This new addition covered a 350-space parking deck. Its first stores, Ann Taylor Loft, Coldwater Creek, Chico's and Jos. A. Bank, opened May 1, 2009. A (65,000 square foot) Whole Foods Market anchored the addition and was dedicated January 12, 2010. PLYMOUTH MEETING MALL now encompassed approximately 948,000 leasable square feet and contained over 110 stores and services.

Macy's pulled the plug on their PLYMOUTH MEETING store in March 2017. By this time, the mall's proprietor had announced plans to retenant the structure as a "lifestyle destination." As this was being plotted, Lower Level space in the center of the mall was reconfigured. Area previously occupied by The Shoe Department, New York & Company, Borders Express, A T & T and five Food Court stalls was rebuilt as a 1-level (33,000 square foot) Legoland Discovery Center. This family fun facility opened for business on April 6, 2017.

Soon after, the southwest corner of the vacant Macy's was demolished. The remainder of the building was gutted, with a small southward expansion built. The bulk of the Lower Level was reconfigured with a (58,500 square foot) Dick's Sporting Goods and (26,000 square foot) Michaels. The remaining Lower Level area was to house Miller's Ale House, Edge Fitness and three other inline tenants. Upper Level space became a (41,800 square foot) Burlington.

Burlington opened its doors on September 20, 2019. Dick's grand opening was held the following day. Miller's Ale House welcomed first patrons on September 30, with the Edge facility beginning business on October 26. The Michaels store was dedicated in early 2020.


The Philadelphia Inquirer
The Times-Herald (Website on Internet Archive Wayback Machine)
Montgomery County, Pennsylvania tax assessor website
"Plymouth Meeting Mall" article on Wikipedia (Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust)