Remembering the Salem Mall, the Dayton area’s first enclosed shopping center



Shopping in the 1970s and ‘80s didn’t get much better than at the Salem Mall in Trotwood.

A new kind of shopping center

A ground-breaking ceremony for the Salem Mall was set for Friday, Nov. 19, 1965.

Located at the corner of Shiloh Springs Road and Salem Avenue, the site’s developer said the mall would be the only enclosed shopping center “from Louisville to Akron.”

Built in 1966, the first five tenants signed were a Metropolitan department store, Liberal Markets, Baker Shoes, Nobil Shoes and Spencer Gifts. Rike’s department store was pre-existing and adjacent to the new mall and Sears, the other main anchor, was also considered a stand-alone building.

Rike’s was at the western end and Sears at the eastern boundary.

The new mall included one of the first retail outlets for the national mail-order company, Spencer Gifts. It was just the seventh store for the quickly expanding company.

There was also a a 825-seat movie theater, equipped for Cinerama.

In its early stages, the mall had 60 retailers and parking for 3,000 cars.

The central court — with tropical foliage, benches, a fountain and reflecting pool — acted as sort of a lobby. Four walkways fanned out from the court, with open front stores along each walkway.

The mall was to be air-conditioned, maintaining a constant 72-degree temperature, according to the developer.

The 1970s

A major expansion, which began in 1977, grew the mall from 582,000 square feet to about 800,000 square feet.

Part of that expansion was the addition of a food court, called the “Picnic” area. It was the first of its kind in the Dayton area. The food court had 20 options, ranging from Chinese egg rolls to gyros to Big Macs. Restaurants located elsewhere in the mall included MCL Cafeteria, The Upper Krust and Friendly’s.

The Liberal supermarket, which was closed by 1979, had its space subdivided into inline stores in 1980.

The 1980s

The large-scale renovation was completed in 1981 with the construction of a two-story concourse ending in a JCPenney anchor store (relocated from the nearby Forest Park Plaza).

A “Grand-Reopening” was held Aug. 5, 1981 with 58 new stores, including JCPenney.

The Metropolitan closed in the mid-1980s and its space was extensively reworked to form a much larger food court adjacent to the center court.

The mall was prosperous through much of the 1980s.

RELATED: PHOTOS: Salem Mall through the years

The 1990s

After a brief closing, the Salem Mall reopened in November 1994 after a $3 million renovation.

In late 1997, JCPenney closed. Sony Theaters also closed its Loews Salem Mall Cinemas.

JCPenney was torn town and replaced by a Home Depot.

In 1998, anchor store Lazarus (formerly Rike’s) left the mall. Many of the mall’s restaurants also went out of business, leaving Sears and a newly built Home Depot (in a separate building) as the only anchors.

The 2000s

Business at the mall declined as other malls opened in the Dayton area.

The city of Trotwood purchased the mall site, with the exception of Sears and Home Depot, in 2004

The mall closed in 2005 and was demolished in 2006.

Demolition of the mall began on May 15, 2006, but the Sears building was retained, with Sears becoming a free-standing store.

Sears closed in 2014.

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