Shoppers’ World opened on October 4, 1951. Fearing that a World Series game would keep visitors away, Huston Rawls assembled a group of girls with banners reading “Ask Me”, equipped with transistor radios, so that they were ready to update visitors on the score throughout the afternoon. He need not have worried, as 25,000 attended the opening ceremony, and estimates range from 50,000 to 200,000 for the entire day. The largest crowd ever to visit an attraction in New England came to see the “glittering structure of glass, chrome and masonry” as described by Hal Clancy, in the popular magazine Coronet.
During the opening ceremony, Massachusetts Governor Paul A. Dever unveiled a fence to reveal the 2,400 names of those who worked on Shoppers’ World in construction, planning or finance. Other featured speakers included President of National Suburban Centers Huston Rawls, Chairman of the Framingham Board of Selectmen Victor Galvani, and President of Jordan Marsh Edward R. Mitton.
In addition to the spectacular layout and 44 stores, shoppers found a number of unprecedented amenities on the premises: a bank (a branch of Framingham Trust Company), Sharaf’s Restaurant ready to serve up to 800, the first self-service drugstore in New England for over-the-counter products, beauty salons, interior decorators, a Gulf service station, and an on-site radio studio for WKOX. There was a mall-wide loudspeaker system to announce the names of children or adults who became separated from family or friends, and even a uniformed Shoppers’ World police force. Every one of the 400 doors in the center had been calibrated to the precise leverage required for a healthy woman to open it. And wheelchairs were available on request for the disabled.
The exhibition Shoppers’ World 1951-1994 is on view thru December 20, 2013 at the Edgell Memorial Library, 3 Oak Street, Framingham. Open hours are Wednesday – Saturday, 1-4 pm. $5/person; FHC members visit free.
Thursday, October 17th, 7-9 pm
Edgell Memorial Library
Were you one of Framingham’s first Campanelli homeowners? Did you grow up in a Campanelli ranch? Do you live in one now? As an adjunct to our “Campanelli Ranch – Life and Design Program”, here’s an opportunity to add personal meaning to our collective conversation! Come and reminisce about life in mid-century Framingham. Share your personal stories of how living in one of Framingham’s most iconic home styles – the slab ranch – has complemented your lifestyle, yesterday and today. How was it then? How is it now? What has changed? What remains the same? $5 suggested donation. Help us plan for ample seating by rsvp’ing to email@example.com.
Inspired by the overwhelming enthusiasm of our members and visitors who loved our Shoppers World roundtable, this exhibition features images, merchandise, and memorabilia that will be sure to bring you back to this “kinder, gentler shopping center.”
The country’s first mall east of the Rockies included the iconic Jordan Marsh dome anchoring 44 original stores with an interior courtyard that served as a cultural stage and community gathering spot for more than 40 years. Promoters of this new mall were right out of “Mad Men,” coming up with ingenious ways to bring shoppers from all over New England to this cutting edge retail mecca – or as one planner called it “an opportunity for a re-creation of community spirit.
Visit us Wednesday – Saturday 1:00-4:00 pm until December 20, 2013 at the Edgell Memorial Library, 3 Oak Street, Framingham.
Admission is $5/person; free for members and children under age 10.
Arrangements can me made for groups by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Special new member rate of $19.51 is offered throughout the duration of the exhibition!
An Extraordinary Summer
By Annie Murphy, Executive Director
Our busiest summer on record kicked off with 20 local teachers attending our three day Civil War Teacher Training workshop just after the 4th of July and ended with heartfelt thanks and goodbyes to our many volunteers and interns who helped us sort through boxes and boxes of newly-arrived Dennison archives.
Sometime in between, 61 new families came through our doors to experience fun filled children’s activities on five Farmer’s Market Thursdays and hundreds more visitors took in the Shoppers’ World exhibition.
Hosting a room full of educators in the Edgell Memorial Library as they soaked up Framingham’s remarkable Civil War history through a well-choreographed presentation of our artifacts, publications, local authors, presenters, and visiting scholars was truly a highlight of my work here. Our collaboration with Framingham State University, and Dr. Sarah Adelman, Associate Professor of History could not have been better and the teachers gave us rave reviews. We’ve created a buzz of anticipation for next summer’s workshop which we have already started planning.
I cannot think of a better way to ensure that future generations of students connect to their local history than to pass it on to elementary, middle and high school teachers. I want to thank the Foundation for Metrowest, Mass Humanities, and Impact Framingham again for their foresight in supporting this workshop. We hope to make teacher training an annual summer event here and are already planning next year’s syllabus.
Saturday, September 21st
1:00 - 4:00 pm
Edgell Memorial Library, 3 Oak Street
Enjoy free admission to both the Shoppers’ World 1951-1994 Exhibition and Framingham’s permanent Civil War Exhibition, and join a self-paced family discovery activity “Explore your Historic Spaces” at this special open house! Doors to History is a new collaboration of historic sites in Greater Boston created as a result of 2009′s Partners in Preservation Program sponsored by American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. For info on other open houses taking place throughout the region, click here.