Building an Icon – Rolling Acres Mall

In 1964, on Akron’s west side, The DeBartolo Corporation was building the city’s first enclosed shopping center, Summit Mall. On the northeast side, Akronite Richard B. Buchholzer had partnered with Cleveland developers Forest City Enterprises and was in the beginning stages of building Chapel Hill Mall. Malls were going up everywhere across the country and it only seemed logical that Akron’s south side would be next. When studies showed the demand existed and with major department stores showing interest in the area, Buchholzer and Forest City concluded that the time to start planning Akron’s third major mall was now.

Two years later the group would settle on a 260 acre site on Romig Road located in the city’s southwest corner. The initial plan was to build a near twin to Chapel Hill. A single layer shopping mall flanked by two anchor department stores. In the acreage surrounding the center the group panned to build a 200 suite motel, medical and office buildings, and some 900 apartment units.

This artists rendering of Rolling Acres Shopping Center showcases Forest City Enterprises second major Akron project – a twin to the already existing Chapel Hill Mall – in which an 800,000 square foot center bordered by apartments and office buildings.

But Rolling Acres wasn’t the only shopping center being planned for the area. In the nearby city of Barberton a group was planning the Austin Mall Development, a smaller enclosed mall that would be surrounded by a new housing development.

Both projects faced major setbacks from area residents with many believing that the shopping centers would reek havoc on downtown retail in both Akron and Barberton. It was also thought that a shopping center would stunt downtown urban renewal projects.

Though Rolling Acres and Austin Mall were both eventually given the green light for rezoning, the Austin Mall never materialized.

The architectural rendering shows the first phase of Forest City’s development at Rolling Acres. Forest city also owned 127 adjacent acres which they had planned for commercial and high density residential.

After years of delays, construction at Rolling Acres would finally get underway in 1973. The shopping center was built in two phases. The first phase being the malls main level and the initial two department stores. The second phase would be the addition of a promenade level and three more department stores.

Original development plan for Phase I of Rolling Acres Mall shows the main level of the mall and plans for a future lower level.

The full first year of construction was spent grading the rugged landscape and transforming it into a workable site so the foundation of the mall could be laid. Once the initial foundation was in the rest of the project took only eleven months to complete.

Rolling Acres was nearing its opening. All of the years of planning and manpower put into the construction were finally becoming clear and the end result was truly beautiful. A modern wonder of retail was finally coming to life.

An excited Ray Kapper who was Chairman of the Planning Committee, speaks to The Beacon Journal on construction finally getting started at Rolling Acres.

Prior to the malls opening there was a special preview ceremony and private reception held at the mall where Rev. V. Stan Hampson pronounced the blessing of the mall and consecration of The Court of the Twelve Trees using a thousand year old Hawaiian chant.

After the mall was given it’s blessing, Ruth Ballard, wife of former Akron mayor John Ballard gave a champagne christening for the spectacular fountain that sat at the center of The Court of the Twelve Trees underneath a massive spaceframe skylight.

Some of the lucky group that was privy to the mall preview celebration.

At long last, the big day had finally arrived. The grand opening. The original twenty stores would be a perfect representation to the company’s philosophy of meeting the needs and demands of shoppers of all ages and incomes. A family could spend the whole day at the mall, take in a movie at the cinema, let the kids play video games at Play Palace, and then cap the day with dinner at Der Dog Haus.

Rolling Acres Mall Grand Opening
Rolling Acres adopted RA, The Friendly Giant as their mascot. Named after the Egyptian sun god, RA would appear in many advertisements throughout the early years. He even made an appearance at the grand opening.

The opening was a success. New stores would open on a near weekly basis. In addition to this success, Rolling Acres was also becoming more than just a retail outlet, the mall was becoming a center of community activity with special activities and events ranging from meeting Santa or the Easter Bunny, to meeting celebrities such as the Budweiser Clydesdales or getting to ring a life-size replica of the Liberty Bell. There was always fun to be had at Rolling Acres and the community loved it.

Rolling Acres Entrance
Originally posted by Tony Parks in the Rolling Acres Mall Memories Facebook group, this photo shows the entrance how it may have appeared at its opening.

Riding high off their achievement of a successful phase I it was now time for the company to turn its attention to phase II. But that’s a story for another time. Stay tuned!

Need to feed your nostalgic Rolling Acres craze? Be sure and check out this video walkthrough of the mall.

Could Things Have Been Different For Euclid Square Mall?

Originally constructed in 1977, Euclid Square Mall was certainly never the Cleveland area’s biggest or most flashy mall, but it most certainly deserved a better fate than it would eventually suffer.

Could things have been different? Maybe. Let’s look back at some times that could have possibly changed the fate of Euclid Square Mall.

Euclid Square Mall Entrance
Entrance to Euclid Square Mall – Image credit Nicholas Eckhart’s wonderful Flickr account.

In late December of 1997, The Zamias Services Company would close a deal on the  purchase of ten mall properties from Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. Included in the deal were Euclid Square Mall and 9 other malls scattered throughout the eastern and midwestern states. With the deal the company was looking to grow their already impressive portfolio of 35 shopping centers.

At the time of purchase, Euclid Square Mall was still a somewhat respectable center with vacancy rates at 15%. Though these numbers were below average for the Cleveland market, they were still nowhere near as bad as the 29% vacancy rate at nearby Richmond Mall or the 31% rate at Randall Park Mall.

Renovations at Euclid Square Mall

Renovations at Euclid Square Mall
With Simon-DeBartolo already renovating the nearby Richmond Mall could a swanky facelift have saved Euclid Square?

In an effort to improve the vacancy numbers at Euclid Square, Zamias Services did a study of the mall which looked at multiple renovation and redevelopment plans for the property. Some of these plans included a complete renovation, a conversion to a power center, completely demolishing the mall and repurposing the site into an apartment community, and one plan even looked at turning the site into a golf course.

Euclid Square Mall as a Power Center
For better or for worse, the power center idea never unfolded.

Sadly, none of these ideas ever came to fruition. One year later the mall would lose a major anchor when Kaufmann’s would relocate to the nearby and newly renovated Richmond Mall. This loss would only help contribute to the soon to be rapid rise in vacancy.

Euclid Square Mall Directory
This 1999 mall directory shows there was still some life left.

Even after losing an anchor there still may have been a chance of turning the place around as the mall still had some signs of life but by 1999 it had seemed that Zamias Services had given up. Shortly later in 2000 Zamias would sell the mall to North Carolina real estate investor Haywood Wichard.

Haywood not only looked like a business class villain from an 80s movie, he also played the part to near perfection. He cared zero about the mall, the jobs it created, or the people that worked there. He cared only about one thing and that was turning a profit on his investment. Mr. Wichard was quoted in the Plain Dealer as saying “We are willing to sit there and hold it until a use comes along. Somebody will come along eventually who will need that property.”

Haywood Richard Euclid Squares Death Nemesis
Haywood Wichard – Was he wise to not dump money into the mall or is he the reason the mall doesn’t exist today?

In just a year under Haywood Wichard’s ownership vacancy rates soared to 87%. By 2002 the mall’s remaining anchor, Dillard’s, converted the store to a clearance center and closed off access to the second level of the store. In 2004 Haywood eventually gave up the idea of ever turning a profit on the property and sold the mall at a loss to local businessman Ted Lichko.

Whereas Haywood Wichard seemed like a villain, Ted Lichko seemed like the unlikely hero that Euclid Square needed to save it from certain doom. Lichko was mostly known operating United Furniture but also was in the business of purchasing run-down brick apartment buildings and rehabbing them into safe, affordable housing. He had even bought and turned around Conneaut Shopping Center so it seemed like he could really make this happen.

Lichko’s first plan was to fill the other vacant anchor store. His idea was Outlets USA. Despite the name, Outlets USA was not your typical factory outlet, but more of an upscale flea market set in a department store consisting of a gallery of vendors selling wares such as furniture, cigarette lighters, tires, and scratch and dent appliances. Outlets USA would feature 150 spaces for vendors on the first level of the former Kaufmann’s store and if that was filled up they would open up the second level.

Outlets USA Euclid Square Mall
Outlets USA – Not just an outlet shopping mall.

Next, Lichko would focus on revitalizing the mall’s interior. His first order of business was to reactivate the beautiful fountain system. He put his team to work to clean up the mall interior and get the stores into move-in ready condition. Lichko hoped that the mall could rebound by using a “main street” mix of offices and stores. Lichko even had educational organizations evaluating areas of the mall as potential business school campus.

One of Lichko’s first orders of business as the malls new owner was to reactivate the malls beautiful fountain system.

Initially Lichko’s plan would pay off. Outlets USA’s grand opening weekend would attract nearly 13,000 customers. One of the food vendor’s, “The Dog House” actually ran out wieners! It was a hit and customers even commented to the Plain Dealer on how great it was for the mall to be back open and about how wonderful the mall looked.

The success however wouldn’t last. Outlets USA would close just two years after opening, with Litchko citing that the vendors were a bad mix with the mall. And just like that, the mall was headed back on it’s course of failure.

A shuttered Outlets USA at Euclid Square Mall – Image via Nicholas Eckhart’s wonderful Flickr account.

And that is basically the end of the line for Euclid Square. Though it did have somewhat of a resurgence as a place of worship. In 2013 there were as many as 24 different churches located in the mall. However in 2013 the mall also lost it’s last retail client when the Dillard’s Clearance finally closed its doors.

In late 2017 the mall would eventually meet its doom after many years struggle.

In 2016 the mall would be condemned by the city of Euclid and a year later demolition would begin.

So, could things have been different for Euclid Square? Maybe. But with fierce competition from upscale centers like Crocker Park and Legacy Village it would be hard to imagine a world where Euclid Square would still be a successful shopping mall. Heck, even Richmond Mall who underwent major renovations is now closed.

 

 

The Joseph Horne Company Enters the Cleveland Market

In 1976 The Joseph Horne Company would open their second Ohio store and their first in the Cleveland market at the brand new Randall Park Mall. Though they were considered the new kid on the block in Cleveland, The Joseph Horne company had already been in business for 127 years with 13 stores in the Pittsburgh area as well as a branch location in Youngstown.

Though the Joseph Horne Company was part of the much larger Associated Dry Goods Company the move was still considered “gutsy” as the Cleveland market already featured retail heavyweights such as Higbee’s, The May Company, The Halle Brothers, JCPenney, and Sears.

Joseph Horne Company Randall Park Mall
Architectural rendering of the future Joseph Horne Company at Randall Park Mall – Image via Cleveland Public Library Image Collection.

Looking to make a splash, The Joseph Horne Company spent nearly 3 years on design  and construction of the Randall Park store making sure to place extra emphasis on the stores interior design quality. After all, what better way to accentuate the quality of the items being sold than to show them off in the most attractive environments and settings?

Joseph Horne Randall Park Mall
Exterior at Joseph Horne Company, Randall Park Mall

When finally completed the store would be sheer elegance from top to bottom with genuine wool carpets, real teak wood floors imported from Bangkok, velvet wallcoverings, brass accents, and in one area gold leaf molding around the ceiling.

The company’s hard work would pay-off though. On the stores opening day busloads of people jammed the aisleways to get their first look at the new kid from Pittsburgh. It was so busy there were lines just to get in. One frustrated shopper was quoted in The Plain Dealer as saying “What good is it to come to a store if you can’t even get in?”.

Joseph Horne storefront
One of the interior entrance’s to the Joseph Horne Company at Randall Park Mall – Image via Pinterest

Just inside the stores main entrance shoppers would find the men’s sportswear department with light ash wood cabinets and wall trim and a pattern of burgundy and gold carpet squares.

The stores central core would house a 58 foot bay area where two escalators would carry shoppers to different departments on each level of the store. This area would be dominated by a 23 foot high crystal chandelier. The chandelier would take 4 months to build and weigh in at a lofty 2,300 pounds with 1,900 of that in crystal alone. Dark mirrors would line the walls surrounding the escalator to reflect the lights of the chandelier throughout the escalator well.

The massive at chandelier at Horne’s weighed over a ton!

Directly beneath the chandelier was the cosmetics department which had a geometrically designed carpet of brown and white color.

From cosmetics following along the herringbone patterned teak wood path would bring you to the nearby accessories department, where shoppers would find handbags, jewelry, and scarfs all showcased in a Brazilian Rosewood display cabinet trimmed in brass.

Joseph Horne COmpany
Accessories department at Joseph Horne Company Randall Park store. – Image via Stores of the Year

The houseware’s department would feature a sunny yellow tile quarried in California. The area also had display racks made of butcher block and knotty pine and an 8×8 copper hood to showcase the stores wide assortment of brass pots and pans.

Joseph Horne Company store
Houseware’s department at Joseph Horne’s. – Image via Stores of the Year

In the juniors department walls were lined with mirrors and accented with neon. A large white neon “JR” would be a beacon shining bright to indicate the departments target age group and lure young customers in.

Hornes junior department
Plenty of mirrors and neon in the juniors department at Horne’s Randall Park store. – Image via Stores of the Year

Even the dressing rooms at Joseph Horne’s had an extra touch of class, with louvered doors trimmed with brass “S” shaped handles.

If that weren’t enough, the store also boasted a restaurant on the third level, Josephine’s Eating and Drinking Emporium, that could seat 150. With an impressive collection of art and antiques along and plenty of window seating to offer patrons breathtaking views of the North Randall countryside, Josephine’s was the perfect dinner spot to wind down a long afternoon of shopping.

Some of the fine dinner values available at Josephine’s Eating & Drinking Emporium.

Waiter! I’ll take the Quiche Lorraine please.

Blueprint Archive – Radio Shack at Mellett Mall

Mellett Mall (later Canton Centre) in Canton, Ohio would open for business in 1965 and shortly after in 1968 Radio Shack would follow suit and sign their first lease with the mall. At the time of opening, Radio Shack’s offerings included the sale and servicing of high fidelity stereos, citizen band radios (CB), televisions, tape recorders, and electronic components, equipment and supplies.

Radio Shack Blueprint
1984 elevation drawing for the Radio Shack store at Mellett Mall.

In 1984 Radio Shack looked to move its store to a new location and they would land next to Abbott’s Cards and Gifts in the malls east wing which was anchored by Montgomery Ward. The blueprint pictured is the architect’s elevation drawing and floor plan for that relocation.

Radio Shack Mellett Mall
Image showing the completed Radio Shack storefront in the malls east wing.

In 2001 Montgomery Ward would go bankrupt and close their store at the mall putting the future of the entire wing of the mall in jeopardy. Under new management the land that the east wing stood on was sold to Walmart.

Despite multiple attempts from mall management to relocate, Radio Shack would stay in this location until the wing was closed for demolition forcing management to terminate their lease.

Canton Centre Mall Directory
Canton Centre Mall Directory. The General Cinema Theatre as well as the entire Wards wing would be demolished in 2004.

Interestingly, the malls breaking of the lease with Radio Shack would end up costing ownership 40,000 dollars due to a clause in the original lease.

Looking for Continuity at Randall Park Mall

The Oxford Dictionary defines continuity as the unbroken and consistent existence or operation of something over a period of time. Continuity is by no means is one of the first words that might pop into your head when thinking of Randall Park Mall. After all, the mall had a fairly short operating life of just over 30 years. But in 1976, when the mall was nearing it’s grand opening, continuity would be the perfect word to describe the DeBartolo Corporation who were busy erecting regional shopping centers at a frantic pace to keep up with consumer demand and fierce competition from rival developers.

Edward J DeBartolo
Edward J. Debartolo in front of his “Continuity” sculpture. Image courtesy of the Leo Noser Collection.

This continuity at which the company would operate would be the result of the DeBartolo Corporation’s ability to handle all aspects of shopping center development in house. From site selection and design, all the way to leasing and operations. The DeBartolo Corporation handled it all and they were quite good at it.

Thus It would only seem fitting for the DeBartolo Corporation’s crowning achievement of building and operating the world’s largest shopping mall, that they would look for the perfect piece of art to help convey the company’s image to the public in a grand fashion.

Werner Neblung
Werner Neblung, the artist behind Continuity with his son Rick directing work on one of their sculptures.

The DeBartolo Corporation would commission Werner H. Neblung, an immigrant German artist and owner of Railco Metal Craft to construct his “Continuity” piece after it had been selected from a sketch and a two foot model.

When completed Continuity would be in the shape of a ten foot cube consisting of one continuous (hence the name) ground and polished piece of polished eight inch aluminum tubing. The sculpture would weigh in at 2000 pounds and would rest on one of the end points of the cube. where it would be perched high atop a seven foot tall pyramid.

Continuity by Wener Neblung. Image via Randall Park Memories Facebook group.

Neblung would actually fabricate the entire piece completely in his studio and when complete the sculpture would receive a full month of grinding and polishing to achieve its perfectly smooth and shiny look.

Sculpture Randal Park Mall
The brushed aluminum of Continuity goes marvelously with the bright red carpets of Randall Park Mall. Image via Stores of the Year Volume I.

This striking sculpture would most certainly catch any shoppers eye from either level and from any viewpoint in the mall and would become the focal point of the lower level of the mall opposite the Higbee’s entrance.

Christmas at Randall Park Mall
During the holidays the sculpture was double perfectly as a Christmas gift. Image via Randall Park Mall Memories.

Though Randall Park Mall is long gone, rumor has it that the sculpture was removed before demolition and is currently hidden in a storage unit at the Thistledown Racino in North Randall.

 

The Halle Brothers – Belden Village Mall

In 1970, after a hiatus of nearly 15 years, the Halle Brothers decided to return to the Canton, Ohio market in grand fashion, with an anchor store at the brand new Belden Village Mall. After over a year of extensive market research the Halle Brothers would determine that the Stark County area was already being more than adequately served by a number existing of full-line department stores. They needed a plan. Something different.

Halle Brothers Belden Village
Exterior entrance to Halle’s at Belden Village Mall from the company’s 1970 annual report.

So the Halle Brothers came up with “The Shop Concept”. With this new concept the Halle Brother’s would buck the notion of being a traditional department store selling items such as sporting goods, camera’s and toys, and focus strictly on higher end fashions and offering only quality merchandise from select lines. In this way the Halle Brothers thought they could better serve the needs of area residents.

The Halle Brothers also realized there would be other retailers already offering similar lines of merchandise at comparable prices. They would attempt to overcome this hurdle by stressing innovation in merchandising techniques and offering high quality service.

Halle's Belden Village
Halle’s Interior entrance at Belden Village Mall Grand Opening.

Now that the company had their business model, they needed someone who could bring their innovation into reality. They brought in Rudi Baumfield of Gruen and Associates. Rudi was somewhat a legend of retail design at the time, he was the man who designed the first enclosed two level shopping mall in the United States as well as designing more than a dozen Joseph Magnin stores on the west coast.

Belden Village Canton Ohio
What’s Happening at Halle’s in Belden Village Mall.

Rudi’s plan would feature wide aisles, bright colors, and subtle lighting. There would be thick carpeting throughout the store with the exception of some small surfaces in the men’s department and at the entrances, which were covered in black tile. The various departments would be recessed from the main aisles and be decorated in their own distinct manner, giving the illusion of small shops rather than a department store.

Halle Brothers Belden Village
A showcase of the Rudi Baumfield designed store featuring the artificial skylight as a centerpiece.

The store would feature a stunning 20 X 116 foot artificial skylight in the center of the sales floor. The skylight consisted of four colors of plexiglass arranged in randomly rising and falling four-sided pyramids almost looking like an optical illusion.

Halle's Belden Village
Closeup view of the pyramid like optical illusion skylight.

In addition to being one of the most appealing retail outlets in the area, the Halle Brothers also stressed that one of the most important factors to running a successful operation was the quality of service. And they would make sure of this at their Belden Village store. Out of a near 700 applicants for jobs, they selected only the top 120.

Complaint Department – Merry Go Round

The Merry Go Round store at Rolling Acres Mall definitely had a rather long rap sheet with mall management. In this early complaint, a written warning was finally given from Vivian Poe, the Mall Manager to store employees after multiple verbal warnings were ignored about playing the music too loud.

Rolling Acres Mall Complaint
Written warning from the desk of Vivian Poe.

Through exhaustive research I was finally able to track down the image below via a Merry Go Round Alumni Facebook Group which shows two of the possible perpetrators working at the store in question. The photo was taken near the date of complaint so these two must be considered suspects.

Two Merry Go Round store employees at Rolling Acres Mall in the early 1980s showing signs of obvious guilt and remorse.

In these girls defense they were probably just doing what they were told. There have been many studies on the volumes and genres of music played to retail shoppers. Some studies say that loud music disorients customers, while others say certain types of music makes a customer spend more money. There’s even a theory about how playing music loudly keeps certain age groups out of the stores which would otherwise detract from the target customers experience, which makes perfect sense as I never noticed the loud music when I was younger, but now an older age I steer far clear of these stores.

Blueprint Archive – Lerner Shops at Euclid Square Mall

Today’s entry to the Blueprint Archive is this lovely sign drawing from Lerner Shops at Euclid Square Mall. The mall, which was developed by Jacobs, Visconsi & Jacobs would open in 1977 and the Lerner Shops would follow suit shortly after opening in 1978.

architectural drawing euclid square mall
1978 sign drawing for Lerner Shops at Euclid Square Mall

In the 1970s Lerner Shops had already established themselves as a major player amongst women’s fashion retailers. At one point they were even America’s largest chain of fashion specialists. Held in high regard amongst multiple generations of shoppers, Lerner Shops would offer all of the newest styles to complement any occasions, from  daytime versatile to nighttime alluring, customers knew they could find the look they were after at Lerner.

Lerner Storefront
Though not the Euclid Square store, This image from a 70s Rapid-American Corporation (majority owner of Lerner Shops) annual report shows what the finished storefront may have looked like.

The Euclid Square Mall store would eventually move from space B-252 to the A-156 location where it would remain until closing in the early 2000s.

After its days as a Lerner, the store A-156 would go on to become the Euclid Beach Boys Event Center and Museum which featured memorabilia from local amusement parks Euclid Beach, Geauga Lake, and Chippewa Lake.

Lerner euclid square mall
Store A-156 – Lerner at Euclid Square Mall marked for doom in its final days during the malls demolition.

Higbee’s – Randall Park Mall

In the early 1970s Edward J. DeBartolo was quickly becoming one of the biggest single developers of shopping centers in the country. Already having a strong foothold in the Northeast Ohio market owning and operating Great Lakes Mall, Summit Mall, and Richmond Mall, DeBartolo was planning for something bigger for the area. Something like maybe the biggest shopping mall that anyone had ever seen.

Ed Debartolo Sr.
The king of shopping centers, Edward J. Debartolo and son Eddie more than likely scheming on where to build the next mall.

So in 1973 construction began on Randall Park Mall in North Randall Ohio. The mall would be a massive 2,200,000 square feet and its size would unseat A. Alfred Taubman of the Taubman Company as the “Builder of the World’s Largest Shopping Center” and cement Mr. DeBartolo’s legacy as the true king of mall developers.

Higbee's Randall Park Mall Under Construction
This 1974 image from Higbee’s Annual Report shows the interior construction of Randall Park Mall from the viewpoint of the Higbee’s store entrance.

A shopping center of such grandeur would of course need some pretty remarkable anchor stores, and where better to start than with a Cleveland local, The Higbee Company. Higbee’s, already having been in the business 116 years, had truly blossomed into the area leader in full service department stores when they opened their ninth store at Randall Park in 1976.

Higbee's Randall Adventure Game
Higbee’s Randall Adventure Game featuring the many departments of the store from the Cleveland Plain Dealer Special Randall Park Mall Grand Opening section.

With the Randall Park location, the Higbee Company would look to open their fanciest store yet. A two level store of 195,000 square feet. The upper level of the store would house a complete fashion center for the entire family with departments such as The Signature Shop for men, a complete Designer Shop for women featuring many of the top brands, a Pro Shop for sports clothing, and of course the Junior Area and Student Shop for the kids.

Make a name for yourself in the Higbee’s Signature Shop for Men.
Higbee's Footwear department
Fancy footwear for the ladies from all the best brands.

On the lower level of the store you could find additional departments such as Housewares, Gifts and Gourmets, Books, Toys, and Form & Function, an all new contemporary furniture and home accessory shop which borrowed strongly from the highly successful Higbee’s Westgate Home Center.

Gifts at Higbee's Randall Park Mall
Gifts and gourmet abound on the lower level of the new Higbee’s at Randall Park Mall.

It’s easy to see how one could get caught up and make a whole day out of a trip to Higbee’s alone. There was even a restaurant, The Racing Silks Dining Room, where customers could stop and have lunch or visit The Pronto Room for a quick coffee or nibble.

Randall Park Higbees restaurant
Fine dining in The Racing Silks Restaurant at Randall Park Mall.

The Fountains of Eastwood Mall

Eastwood Mall logo
The original umbrella logo of Eastwood was meant to represent the unusual umbrella style of ceilings in the complex.

William M. Cafaro, Youngstown native and Chairman of WIlliam M. Cafaro and Associates, the firm that would develop Eastwood Mall in Niles, Ohio had already been constructing shopping centers across the United States for several years. So when it became time to bring a mall into his own backyard, he wanted something extraordinary.

main fountain at Eastwood Mall
This old Postcard depicts the main fountain with colored lighting.

And extraordinary it was. The blueprints alone for the project took ten and a half tons of paper to draw up. The transformer used to power the concourse would be the largest of its kind in the country at that time. The project would use 64,500,000 pounds of concrete, and would feature 120,000 square feet of terrazzo flooring.

Fountain Eastwood Mall Niles Ohio
Two lovely young ladies pose in front of the massive main fountain at Eastwood Mall.

But the highlight of Eastwood Mall would be its extensive fountain system. With more than 12 miles of pipe that would continuously circulate 25,000 gallons of water to the cascading fountains sprawled throughout the mall. The fountains would be considered one of the most lavish creations in the modern shopping world.

Eastwood Mall Fountain
Atlas Cement Ad from 1969, the year Eastwood Mall opened showcasing the umbrella ceilings, terrazzo floor and fountain.

The main fountain would be hailed as one of the most attractive in the nation. Powered by a 60 horsepower pump and an electronic system that would control the cycling of water jets as well as an arrangement of colored lighting to enhance ambience.

John Cafaro, Executive Vice President of William M. Cafaro and Associates would go on to say “There’s no other shopping area in Northeast Ohio or Western Pennsylvania, or any place else in the country for that matter, any more beautiful or convenient to the shopper than Eastwood Mall.”

Eastwood Mall in the 80s
The fountains were still stunning in the 1980s.

The beauty however would not last and in a 1995 remodel the fountains were completely removed and replaced with seating areas, complete with big screen televisions…

Removal of Eastwood Mall fountains
Image showing the mid 90s removal of the fountains at Eastwood Mall.

Though nowhere near as magnificent as it was 50 years ago, the mall is still owned and operated by the Cafaro Corporation and remains somewhat relevant, recently (2017) being named The Best Place in Ohio for Black Friday Shopping by USA Today.