The Freedom Valley Chronicles: Plymouth Meeting Mall Fire – Part Six

The “Lady In The Window” remained standing and her white bridal dress appears to have been largely unharmed by fire at the Plymouth Meeting Mall on January 10, 1970.

One-third of this shopping center was destroyed in the fire.

Today, you can view some of the photos detailing the utter destruction that took place on a cold winter day in 1970.

Individuals are seen here reviewing the damage done by the fire at the Plymouth Meeting Mall.  Portions of the roof are gone – now on the floor of the first.  You may be able to see what was a large water fountain – in the middle of the photo – now covered with debris.

This photo shows destruction on the second level of the Mall.

Few looking at this photograph would recognize any aspects of retailing that was common just hours before this fire.

The Radio Shack sign and the store’s brick facing are all that remains distinguishable in this photo.

The steel and metal were no match for the heat of the fire that consumed this section of the Plymouth Meeting Mall.

One of the stores destroyed in the fire.

A couple lamp posts, a bench, and several trees withstood the flames of the fire at the Mall.

Some of the fire hoses are seen on the floor of the Mall.

This photo was taken from the second level of the Plymouth Meeting Mall.  Portions of the roof cover what was a large water fountain in front of Lit Brothers Department Store.

More destruction following the fire at the Mall is seen in this photograph.

While one-third of the Plymouth Meeting Mall was destroyed, life went on as close to “normal” as possible for much of the rest of the shopping center.  Stores largely unaffected by the fire – including Strawbridge and Clothier Department Store – re-opened on January 14, 1970.  Lit Brothers Department Store re-opened shortly thereafter.

It would be months later when the stores between Lit Brothers and the F. W. Woolworth Store would be re-built and opened to the general public.

The Church on the Mall, a local Presbyterian congregation that had opened as part of the Plymouth Meeting Mall in 1966, continued with its weekly religious services.

“Everyone I talked with remembers the fire,” stated Mr. Hudson “Pete” Scattergood, an Elder with Church on the Mall.  “They don’t remember much else.  At that time, the church service was held in the common room of the Plymouth Meeting Mall.  That part of the Mall was not affected by the fire.  Sunday School classes were held in several stores.  Some members remember, with a laugh, that their class was held in the Cork and Crown.”  (The Cork and Crown was a bar and restaurant.)

“The church had a small administrative space near the fire site,” continued Mr. Scattergood.  “That site was closed for a short period of time.  Otherwise no one remembers any disruption for the church.  Services were still held during reconstruction.”

As terrible as the fire was, life did – and has – gone on.

In Part Seven, we will detail comments from an eyewitness to the start of the fire at the Plymouth Meeting Mall.

The photos are provided as a courtesy by Plymouth Township.

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