Showing posts with label Rockville Mall photos. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rockville Mall photos. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

The Rockville Mall had a newspaper, and it could be as creepy as the mall was (Photos)

Montgomery County Halloween Countdown

Today, as we count down the final days to Halloween, let's take a look at the Halloween 1976 edition of The Rockville Mall Times. Yes, Rockville's ill-fated dead mall of the 1970s and 80s had its own newspaper, and it could be as creepy as many considered the mall to be. Especially the Halloween edition. Who was Mr. Barfly, and was he a denizen of the shadows of the mall? Are you encouraged, or discouraged, to visit Ransom's, with Mr. Barfly as the face of the business? His disturbing visage suggests a ransom may indeed be involved to secure your release from his clutches, and from the mall's infamous dark parking garage.

Mr. Barfly, a denizen of the darkest
corners of the Rockville Mall

"Hey, kids! Let's all pile into the station wagon and pick up a copy of Adolf Hitler by John Toland at Waldenbooks at the Rockville Mall." With Roots as the other choice highlighted, talk about a stark contrast in offerings. Some lighthearted reading for the whole family at Waldenbooks.

Name-brand leisure suits were 50% off - if Herb Tarlek didn't get to Crane's Men's Shop first and clean 'em out. It's hard to get more 70s than leisure suits. But Beyda's gave it the old college try with corduroy, gabardine and velveteen pantsuits.

The front-page story in the Halloween 1976 edition of the The Rockville Mall Times looked back at the tragic demolition of the Rockville's historic town center with an almost-giddy glee. Vinson's drugstore and the Milo theater are visible in a bustling scene from 1945. Thirty years later, the Rockville Mall fills the field of view from the same photographic vantage point (and only 20 years later, the mall itself would be demolished). 

"Progress comes to Rockville," the headline reads. "Shopping sure has changed in Rockville," the article begins. The uncredited reporter made sure to thank the city politicians who approved the demolition of most of the original, historic buildings in downtown Rockville. "During this week, Rockville Mall also salutes the City of Rockville for the many years of progressive city planning that has made Rockville a model city for responsive government, and a convenient place for residents to shop."

A 1976 mall directory shown lists more than 30 tenants. But in a sign of the mall's struggles, previous department store anchors Lansburgh and Lit Brothers were already conspicuously missing from the roster. The interesting names among the remaining tenants were Roy Rogers, Franklin Simon department store and W&J Sloane furniture (both from the same ownership group as Lansburgh and Lit Brothers, coincidentally), King's Court (an original tenant when the mall opened, the restaurant closed in 1984 when its space was replaced with an elevator shaft in the "Rockville Metro Center" makeover of the mall), Friendly's Ice Cream and Real Rich Ice Cream (2 ice cream shops! Which one was better?), Masi's Fun House (was Mr. Barfly ever lurking in there, as well?), Kurly's (what's that?), Empress Restaurant and Waxie Maxie's record store. 

In case shoppers didn't already have it penciled in on their calendars, The Rockville Mall Times noted that National Alcoholism Week was rapidly approaching on November 12. But just when the gloom became too much, the Times promised that "Santa arrives at Rockville Mall Friday, November 26 at 10 AM." After a reminder to "Support your local Rockville Mall merchant who supports you with low prices," the front page ends with the mall's 70s logo, and the tagline "GOOD NEWS/GOOD TIMES."

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Rockville Mall artifact found

Historical documentation of the infamous Rockville Mall is few and far between. Photographs of the structure are virtually non-existent, even on dead mall websites. Whether such materials were simply destroyed, or slowly disappear via the Mandela Effect or CERN tearing apart the space-time continuum, is unknown. So discovery of any new artifacts from the Rockville Mall is exciting, indeed.

Here we have a matchbook from David Lee's Empress, a Chinese restaurant with a location inside the Rockville Mall. It is currently being auctioned off on eBay. If you ever ate at the Empress, please leave your memories in the comments section below. Meanwhile, my archaeological dig for Rockville Mall ephemera continues. "It belongs in a museum!"

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


Is there anyone with nostalgia for the Rockville Mall? I have some for two reasons: A) To the best of my recollection, I never entered the mall, and my parents never took me there, either. Which pretty much sums up why it was a failure, I guess.  And, B) Where are all the photos and videos of the mall? The attempt to sweep the memory of the Rockville Mall under the rug is understandable, but there are as many photos of the mall on the internet as there are of the Ancient Aliens. Less, actually.

I've heard there was a Friendly's restaurant and video arcade in there. Which probably suggests they didn't market the mall very well, as those would have been draws for me!

I was too young to know the blow-by-blow management decisions made by the mall operator(s) over its short history. Could it have been turned around? Was it as hopeless as we hear it was today? The most fundamental flaw in the mall's design (in my opinion) was its distance from the interstate, relative to well-situated I-270 cousins Montgomery Mall, Washingtonian Center, Lakeforest Mall, and Milestone Shopping Center. It also lacked the surface parking all of its competitors had (although that never stopped Mazza Gallerie).

But the demolished mall isn't going quietly into the good night. Instead, it's reaching back from beyond the grave to take a small measure of revenge on the developer greed that fueled its destruction (the same greed that fueled its construction, and the demolition of Rockville's historic town center). At the last meeting of the Rockville Planning Commission, representatives of the Duball I and II projects on the former mall site said their construction was slowed after excavators ran into the caissons of the Rockville Mall deep underground. (These are watertight support structures that are typically anchored in solid bedrock). They said they anticipate they will encounter similar structures when they dig for the second tower.

In an ironic moment, commissioner Charles Littlefield lamented the lack of men's apparel options in the city, options an indoor mall typically provides.

Yet, the most puzzling point of the meeting for me was after commissioner Jack Leiderman asked Duball's attorney the $64000 question: How many more residents will be added to the Duball site if the developer gets the reduction in unit size it's asking for?

The Duball attorney could not answer that question. It just seems inconceivable that a developer would not know the answer to that question at this late stage. In fact, the answer is part of the financial calculation that spurred the request in the first place. This is a change that will require full disclosure, and consideration of the impacts on roads, schools and nearby neighborhoods.

[By the way, if anybody out there has photos of the Rockville Mall, email them and I will post them here on Rockville Nights.]