Jim Sawhill's Commentary:

Posted March 19, 2005 (user submitted)

The 'Charter Oak Mall', named after a historical tree, in East Hartford was a one story enclosed mall built in 1976. The two anchors were Bradlee's and Stop&Shop Supermarket, in the mall itself were a hair salon, Radio Shack, Guardmen's, Atlethic Attic sporting Goods, Papa Gino's Pizza (I think my friend and I were their first customers in 1976), Hartford Federal Savings, a women's dress shop and MediMart (part of the Stop&Shop/Bradlee's group)and 3 other small stores, along with 3 kiskos. Next to it was the Showcase Cimemas 4 and in the parking lot - a Society for Savings. At the mall entrance - you had to drive down a road to it - were Red Lobster and Denny's.

The first store to move was about 1986, when Walgreen's (Stop&Shop sold MediMart to Walgreen's about 1984) moved to Silver Land Plaza (to the same space as Stop & Shop left). Some other stores closed, but Bradlee's and Stop & Shop helped most of the stores in the mall.

The downsizing of East Hartford's Pratt-Whitney engine plant in the late 80s and the recession of the early 90s, caused a few vacant stores, but PapaGino's held on until 1992 when it closed. Then besides Bradlee's (One of their business - and profitable stores) and Stop & Shop (showing its age) there was only Fanastic Sam's and Radio Shack in the mall.

In 1993, Stop & Shop sealed their mall entrance, but changes were coming. Stop & Shop wanted to build a new supermarket so they torn down most of the mall. Leaving Radio Shack and Fanastic Sam's in the mall. The new Stop & Shop opened in 1996 and the Charter Oak Mall was an open air plaza with Bradlee's, Fanastic Sam's, Radio Shack, Eagle Bank, Stop & Shop Vidoes, the supermarket, and in the old Stop & Shop space - Amazing Stores (a surplus store), along with Fleet Bank in the old Society For Savings bank (Fleet bought them).

When I moved out of East Hartford, the plaza was still going strong with Aaron's Rental and Burlington Coat Factory in the Bradlee's space, a Curves for women place in the old Fanastic Sam's location, Radio Shack (yes, a survivor from the mall days), Dollar Tree, Stop & Shop (remodeling again!!) and BigLots (in the old Stop & Shop/Amazing space.) Showcase Cinemas 4 expanded to 18 and now Walgreen's is at the entrance to the mall - after tearing down the Red Lobster. Denny's closed in 2002 and it became a branch of First Federal of East Hartford.

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