The Schuylkill Mall: 1980 to 2017.
The doors can be closed any day now, so if you're near Frackville, PA, I suggest you visit as soon as possible. This mall is symptomatic of the economic decline of the Pennsylvania coal region more than the current trend away from mall shopping. The mall was one of several planned and built by Crown American in largely rural areas near Interstate highway exits. Another one, the Shippensburg Mall, is also along I-81. That mall is very weak and possibly dying as well, but that one isn't in imminent danger of closing. The same can't be said of the Schuylkill Mall.
The previous owner of the Schuylkill Mall declared bankruptcy last year due to declining sales. Subsequently, the property was auctioned off and purchased by NorthPoint development, a company which specializes in building logistical facilities. At that point, the writing was on the wall. In May the tenants were given 60-90 days to vacate. We're now beyond the end of that period and the mall's website was taken down. I don't know if any inline stores are left. But it was announced that demolition will start from the Bon-Ton (already closed) to the Pearl Theater side, allowing the movie theater to remain until the end of the year.
Anyway, that's the condensed version of what's happening now. So, why is the Schuylkill Mall cool and why should anyone care? Because it's one of the best examples of vintage 1970s and 80s retail architecture. There are now a number of good videos on Youtube featuring this mall which will help preserve the memory of this place and this chapter in the Frackville area's history. The first one is from Dan Bell which includes an old school commercial that I could have sworn I saw first hand back in the day. This was recorded in 2015.
The thumbnail highlights a vintage Spencer's storefront and the video goes on to show the distinctive tile and fountains seen throughout. It's a shame almost none of this will be preserved. But I am happy to say that the coal miner statue has found a new home at a nearby mining museum and amusement park. http://www.knoebels.com/ride-play/attractions/mining-museum
And just for giggles, here's another walk though the mall. This one is from February of this year and you can already see how much deader it is.
UPDATE: The Schuylkill Mall closed its doors for the last time on August 31, 2017.