Madison Square Mall: The Legacy of Huntsville’s “Supermall”
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If you grew up in the Madison or Huntsville area before Bridge Street came into town in 2007, chances are that you’ll remember Madison Square Mall in its final glory years. What was once a bustling center for shopping, food, and entertainment now sits as a shell of its former self.
Madison Square Mall opened on October 16, 1984 to tremendous fanfare and a overflowing parking lot of people. Dubbed the “Super Mall”, it was the largest shopping mall in the Huntsville area at over 929,993 sqft. The enormous mall was a prime location for retailers to sell their products. From 1984 to 2008, Madison Square Mall remained a prosperous and worthy investment for those interested in selling to the Huntsville population. However, as the crime rate in and around the mall area rose, the mall lost some of its “family-friendly shopping destination” feel and began losing retailers to nearby shopping districts like Parkway Place and Bridge Street.
I have fond young childhood memories of Madison Square Mall at the end of its prime. A stark contrast to today’s empty parking lot, my family would often have to search for a parking space. A typical shopping experience at the mall for our family would include a visit to the food court where we would eat Chick-Fil-A or Steak Escape and I would play in the food court playground. When I had expelled of some of my energy, we’d visit the Galaxy Game Arcade or the Disney Store with my grandparents, while my mom shopped at Gymboree, Parisian, or Yankee Candle.
Last July, I visited Madison Square Mall to gain a unique perspective on the decline of the mall and just how widespread it was. I took my camera and a couple of friends along with me to explore the mall in depth. We entered the mall through the food court side, on the left sat the former Mozzarella’s. It still had light fixtures hanging on the ceiling almost a decade after it’s closure. As I crept closer inside the mall, we saw the Food Court, which was blocked off by tables formerly used to sell items around the mall. The Food Court sign was missing it’s “F” and behind the sign sat an entirely empty room. It was a haunting site to see what used to be covered in chairs, tables and tons of people scrambling to find a seat, now reduced to an empty round room. I immediately tried to get a closer look. To the left sat the old play place and all around the room, old restaurants just sat there, abandoned, some of these restaurants even had food laying on the floor from years past. The old Chick-Fil-A location had also been Kettle N’ Spouts, a Food Court Wars winner on Food Network in 2012, the show had brought some new interest to the mall, however Kettle N’ Spouts closed only 6 months after the episode aired. I also visited many other former stores and restaurants throughout the mall including FYE, Disney Store, RadioShack, ABC Toys, Hot Topic, Great American Cookies, Gymboree, and just about every inch of the mall that I could get to without causing a major disturbance. You can view my album here to see all of my pictures.
The mall currently sits locked at all entrances, except for Sears and JCPenney. Sears and JCPenney have both announced that they will be leaving by the end of January 2017. These announced closures make way for the inevitable demolition of Madison Square Mall to finally begin and for MidCity Huntsville, the mall’s replacement, to be built. The “Supermall” of Huntsville held many memories, and MidCity will hopefully honor this is one way or another.