Rhode Island Mall


the Lincoln Mall
RI Mall on Urban Planet


The Rhode Island Mall, to me, is a great example of what might happen to the newer Providence Place Mall in 20 years. I wonder if they will turn it into residential units like they seem to do with so many other things. Anyway, the RI Mall is a relic from way back, and when I went recently to take some photos, I was sad to see that even Tape World was gone... it was there a few years ago. Now the only thing that seems to be there is the DMV “Express”. The Kohl’s and the Wal-Mart closed off from the mall and pretty much sealed it’s doom, much like what happened to the Lincoln Mall. It’s only a matter of time until it closes for good, and becomes... I dunno, something else.


From Wikipedia: It is at the corner of RI 2 and RI 113 and is across the road from CCRI Knight Campus as well as being across the river from Warwick Mall. The Rhode Island Mall opened in 1968 as the Midland Mall, which was then the first two-level enclosed shopping mall in New England other than the arcade in downtown Providence. The Midland Mall was extensively renovated and re-branded as the Rhode Island Mall in 1984. The Greenhouse Cafes food court, the first of its kind in the area, also opened around this time. In 1988, May Department Stores acquired Boston-based department store chain Filene’s. May merged its previously owned G. Fox division into Filene’s in 1993, and converted all of its stores, including the Rhode Island Mall location, to the Filene’s name. In 1997, Filene’s announced they would be closing their branch due to the redundancy of this location with another store across the street at the larger Warwick Mall. This was a major turning point in the profitabilty of the Rhode Island Mall. After the closure of Filene’s, the retail space it took as well as 1/3 of the mall (including the Greenhouse Cafes Food Court) was demolished and replaced by two other stores that each occupy one floor of the two-level mall: Wal-Mart on the first level and Kohl’s on the second. These stores do not have any inside access to the mall, which caused many of the mall’s remaining tenants to vacate.

Norm Mar 17 2014 Ok… I worked at the Mall from 1980-1983 at Orange Julius. here are some of the stores, Swiss Colony, the Pipe Den, Midland records, Papa Ginos, The Barnsider, 16 plus, Kinderphoto, Underground Camera, Radio shack, Flagg Brothers, Newport Creamery, Spencer's gifts, Safari House, Alladins Castle, Dr Pet, Thom McCann, The Athletes Foot (Attic), Stuarts… I think a small CVS…

Miss J Jan 31 2014 Does anyone remember a maintenance guy who worked there in the early to mid 70s. I think his name was Mark. Thanks.

Andrew M Dec 26 2012 Heard it was sold to developers recently. Not sure if this means redevelopment or a severing of the empty vein between Sears and Walmart/Kohls. Would be nice to see something happen with it though.

Joe Mar 19 2011 March 2011 update: The Mall faces another loss: The toy vault ended up opening up another location in the Warwick mall (where tilt used to be until the flooding last year). In a similar fashion to Filenes they ended up closing the the Rhode Island Mall branch last month (leaving the store remaining at five). Of the five, two of the store have locations at the Warwick mall (Lenscrafters, and GNC), the other three; Sears, H&R Block and First Place sports. In addition Sears put up a partition wall within the last couple of days, preventing people from directly entering the mall. Asking an associate about it, she was mentioning that the wall was put up for fire protection. further talking about the mall, she noted that the reason why there is no new tenets is due to the cost of modernizing the building to comply with new fire code regulations. Not sure if its the truth, but with the walls on both sides of the mall, the main hall is now in grave condition.

Eric M. Sep 1 2009 I just talked with the owner of 1st place sports today who was a very nice, down to earth guy about the current state of the R.I. Mall. Apparently Stop and Shop currently has a 20 year lease with the mall owners in which Stop and Shop pays the mall owners rent for every single retail space there. (Surprised? I’m not. Stop and Shop is evil.)

Incredulous, I said “But that doesn’t make any sense!”. Apparently 10 years ago, the Wal-Mart that is currently there was supposed to be a Super Wal-Mart like the one located in Coventry. The owners of Stop and Shop declared that a Super Wal-Mart would severely hamper their business. Thus the owners of Stop and Shop decided it would be cheaper to just make a 20 year lease of every store space in that damned mall to keep Wal-Mart from being huge and *Gasp* hurting Stop and Shop and their overpriced rubbish. He also told me Stop and Shop is looking to break the lease soon which will allow stores to move back in there so there is hope very soon for this mall.

Donna Sep 1 2009 In my day it was the Midland Mall. During the 70s, it was a place to hang out. I had a boyfriend that worked in a shoe store; the kids use to cruise the mall and flirt, and we shopped for fuzzy posters and black lights at Spencers. My high school chorus would put on Christmas performances on the steps across from the escaltors. Fond memories.

Laura Jan 25 2009 FYI... Deadmalls.com has RI Mall listed. It’s a state-by-state listing. Check it out.

James R Dec 22 2008 I love this mall, I still go here from time to time to hit up gamestop and toyvault. I remember when we had the ol’ movie store and spencer’s. From time to time me and my buddies ride up the elevators and put our asses on the glass and moon all the dmv people. I once took a dump in the piercing pagoda and no one knew where the stench was coming from. ah, good times.

Stephen Mattos Dec 11 2008 I suggest they let it rot and film a zombie movie here. I honestly can’t wait til all these strip malls become ghost towns. They will be much more beautiful when that finally happens.

sissy769 Nov 22 2008 i remember when midland mall was the place to be! i loved it when it was in it’s heyday. my family went there a lot when i was a kid. i am in my late 40s and but spent the 80s in mass. when i relocated to ri by the 90s warwick mall had stolen a lot of the business away from the midland mall. now its a mere shell of what it used to be. i walk there and i find it very sad.

Johnny Boy July 19 2008 Seriously people. I keep reading how sad it is to see this mall close. Are you serious? I am guessing you are all under 25 and remember mommy bringing you here to buy school clothes. People... there are no memories of this concrete hell hole worth saving. If you’re best memories are of a mall of this caliber then your childhood must have been spent at Cathedral Camp running from the pedophile priests.

TA May 16 2008 this is my favorite mall in the world. Because of the Toy Vault. Its the best toy and comic store ever, esp if you love old toys and Anime figures. Good selection and stuff, and the Game store is quite good, no stupid crowds to wade through when you buy your stuff.

Karen Rose May 13 2008 Everyone seems to be lamenting the fact that Rhode Island/Midland Mall is dying and that it’s “Such a shame”. However, I don’t see any one of you trying to do something about it! It’s always someone else’s problem isn’t it? Why not find a way to contact management, see about leasing space? If Stop & Shop and Ahold companies are leasing the empty stores... how about subleasing from them, Writing to them? Or writing the mayor and city planner? What about having it declared a historic site? I can tell you from experience that the remaining store owners are hoping against hope and praying for a miracle that something will change. Rhode Island mall has given so much to the community over the years. Can’t we preserve this place of deep and fond memories? Yes, Rhode Island mall is “dying”, but it isn’t dead yet!! It’s amazing what can happen when caring people of the community get together and do something!! Are you those people, or is this just something to write about to pass the time during a slow night at home? React... think... and ACT

annie May 7 2008 I worked at the Kay Jewelry store in the early 90’s – horrible mall – horrible people – one less thing to pass that makes my stomach hurt when visiting my family in New Engaland.

Jess Mar 5, 2008 I remember when the Rhode Island Mall was the better of the two malls when compared to the Warwick Mall. Prom dress shopping at Gantos, the Gap, Spencers, G Fox. I used to sing with my high school Chorus on the stairs in the middle of the mall. It is so sad that it is a wasteland now. Not to say that I do not enjoy all of the new things we have now, it is just too bad that the old is forgotton.

Mike Bouchard I can in 3rd place for my Cub Scouts Pinewood Derby race in 1978 at the Midland Mall. The two story mall was my introduction to malls. I can still remember sucking down Coffee Awful Awful’s at the Newport Creamery, my parents making me close my eyes as we walked through Spencer’s, loving the heck out of Baskin Robins... great memories.

Corrie I remember going to this mall so often with my parents as a youngster. Last time I went I was sad to see that pretty much no stores are open any longer. I don’t know what the heck they were thinking having two malls right near each other. I think if the Warwick Mall was not there the RI Mall might have had a better chance. Very sad.

MWB My grandfather –father & I all worked construction, and all participated in different phases of this mall’s building & renovation over 25 years. Interesting note: that stairless escalator (a.k.a. - people mover) was originally planned to be thru-out the mall (not just up & down – but in all the “corridors”, but was removed from the job for cost savings. Sad to see her going to seed.

Carl Worked in Thom McAn Shoes in 1968-69. Enjoyed the time and made a few bucks. Met and dated a woman who worked next door. Still think about her to this day.

Terry My overriding memory of this (Midland) Mall in the 70’s was the strange tiled mounds that rose out of the floor like giant ant hills or Aztec monuments. Are they still there? Like others here, Lincoln Mall was the other place to be. In my experience, though, it was Emerald Square Mall that did all 3 RI malls in. Bigger, better and faster, it rang the death knell for RI malls that Providence Place is still (IMHO) trying to silence. Hordes of teens it may have, but with nary a comb ridiculously sticking out of the back pocket in sight. And not even Spencer’s holds the dark, seedy thrill it used to circa 1977-’80

Ernie I remember this place back in the late 60’s. It was THE place to go. They even had bands on Friday nights play on one of the stair landings. It was also the first time I ever rode on an escalator without stairs.

Angela I am not sad to see the RI Mall go, but I would like to see the space redeveloped and reused. There’s no sense in tearing down an existing structure just to rebuild something else in the same spot.
   I actually remember the decline of the mall. My very first job was at the Cherry & Webb inside the mall. Even then – with a GAP and Filene’s, and no Wal-Mart, the mall was empty. It had long since lost its customer base to the Warwick Mall (and this was years before the Providence Place Mall was completed). Cherry & Webb was on the 1st floor, but when a store upstairs had closed up, we moved into the upstairs space as well. The upstairs was our “Clearance Department”.
   I worked in that haven to Alfred Dunner sportswear for just under a year in 1997, when I was 16 years old. (I remember it was 97 because while I was working the coats and dresses section one evening, a woman came in all distraught and started to tell me about John Denver dying and how she can’t believe it).

Joe Its sad to say that I saw the last heydays of the Rhode Island Mall. Even though I was a child in the 90s, by god I can remember pactrically every block occupied. I remember tape world, a diamond store (not a Kay jewelers), Radioshack, an ocean theme store, Prints Plus, Foot Locker, Warwick Tees and Collectables, AA watch repair, Newport Creamery, World of Science (Loved that place), Cherry and Webb, you get the picture. Almost everyday now, I past by (as I go to CCRI), only to see the area near Kohls and Walmart filled with cars, while the other parts of the lot are nearly empty. If only if the Warwick Mall can acquire the land, have 295 be put underground, and have walkways over the river, Rhode Island Mall might stand a chance, maybe even rival Garden City a couple miles up the road.

Sal This is sad to see a once bustling locale for us all born in the 60s/70s. After Fast Times and other mallrat style movies in the Big 80s it seemed for our coming of age 84-88, Midland/Rhode Island Mall was the only place to be seen. Racing from the Sears Auto Center down to the corner to Filenes was always fun. Hard to believe at one time every spot in the giant lot was taken. Friday nights here were completely surreal. Wall-to-wall teens and very few of the over 40 crowd that we long-ago teens have now become. How time flies.

Chris Most of us over age 35 will remember when it was known as the “Midland Mall”. I spent many an hour in this mall and in its younger competitor down the road, the Warwick Mall.

Kirby Wow...I remember going to RI Mall when I was a little kid and I remember how crowded it was back then when they had all these great stores. I remember the pet shop and KB Toys and all these other stores and during Christmas Santa would be set up in the middle. I have quite a few memories from this mall and I wish it wasn’t so dead now like Lincoln Mall.

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