Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Richland Mall - Ontario OH

This mall was an interesting find, and left enough of an impression on me that it's going to be the first mall written about by me for this blog.

Me and Jaime came across this place while taking the scenic route from Chicago to Cleveland. In less flowery words that basically means that we were on US 30 a long, long time. Now, like any normal people we eventually got tired of this, so it was near the end of our trip that I caved, pulled out my Garmin, and searched for nearby shopping centers for us to stop at. Richland was one of the ones listed- located in the town of Ontario, just outside of Mansfield OH.

My Garmin had it listed as "Westfield Richland", so we know that at one time not to long ago this was a mall owned by the Westfield group. It's owned by Centro now though, and seems to be doing pretty well for itself. It was anchored by Sears, JC Penney, and Macy's.

It doesn't have it's own page on Wikipedia yet, but was mentioned briefly on Ontario's Wikipedia page. Apparently it was built in 1969 as the first modern enclosed mall in North-Central Ohio. It was originally anchored by Lazarus, O'Neil's, and Sears. I'm not sure if the JC Penney was there originally or added later, it wasn't mentioned at all on the Wiki page. O'Neil's became Kaufmann's eventually, and Macy's took over Lazarus.

The Lazarus building was EPICALLY ugly, by the way. Gigantically tall, teal tile covering the outside... It was epic. And it was the first thing we saw when approaching it. Apparently it's the first thing ANYONE sees when approaching it. A giant teal THING. It was really awesome, but only in the nostalgic way that old things are awesome. Outside of that it was an eyesore. And apparently Macy's agreed with me- when they bought out Kaufmann's they moved their store into the old O'Neil/Kaufmann building.

And so during our visit the old Lazarus was empty and abandoned (Not surprising, I imagine that not many tenants would be interested in that ugly building. They'd just end up paying a lot to tear it down and replace it with something less... gaudy), with a "No Photography" sign outside of it's abandoned door. Not that I could photograph it anyway- I left my camera at home. Luckily when I checked Wiki later I found a nice photograph of the Lazarus building. Just imagine it covered in snow and it's pretty much what we saw.

Anyway, on to the rest of the mall- from the outside it looked HUGE. We were pretty excited about going inside (and finding out what the ugly building outside was. We didn't figure that out until after our visit). But sadly once we were inside we found the place to be, well... small. It had all the basic mall stores and a food court, but it was nowhere near as big as it seemed from the outside (we were shocked to find it only was one level). The only really memorable thing I remember inside of it was that it had a Chuck E. Cheeses for a junior anchor by the food court.

I think the reason that it looked so big was the fact that all the anchors (not just the Lazarus) were huge. The now-Macy's even had a BIG domed roof over the jewelry/perfume area. It was so tall that it looked like they had given up changing the lightbulbs on the ceiling and were instead just using floor lighting to illuminate the place. The old O'neil's was an interesting store in other regards to- it had a lot of interesting decor that I'm not used to seeing at department stores (Was that decor left over from O'Neil's or was that a Kaufmann's thing?). I'm glad that Macy's didn't seem to ruin that when it took over the building.

Anyway, we should be back in Mansfield to visit the Mansfield Reformatory this summer, so maybe I'll be able to get some pictures of the place then.

Official Homepage
Ontario, OH wiki
The old Lazarus/Macy's monstrocity

The O'neils/Kaufmann's store that became a Macy's by the time of our visit

1 comment:

  1. Sera, you did a great job writing this up! Keep up the good work...