Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Manchester Parkade in Manchester, Connecticut

Pictures by Mike Kalasnik
Description by Nicholas Eckhart
Story by Scott Roberts and Dave Enes

Instead of starting off this post how I traditionally do, I decided this time to start off with a story wrote by two people familiar with the Manchester Parkade. Enjoy.

A Walk down the Railroad tracks and Memory Lane: The Manchester Parkade

Back in the 1970s, my family and I used to frequent the Manchester Parkade a lot and me too for years on my own. We lived maybe three miles from there, and it was always cool for me to walk there down the railroad tracks to my friend Chris’ house, down more tracks to West Middle Turnpike and onto one of the centers of my childhood. So many happy memories.

Among the things I remember nearly four decades later from the real early years Kings Department Store. I used to buy records there, and my mom loved the pretzels at the snack bar. Soon after, Bradlees moved in, and Kings went by the wayside. There was a big ceremony and long lines when Bradlees opened. It saddens me that I wouldn’t see Mrs B anymore when it closed up. All that’s left are graffiti laden memories. My mom used to buy me school clothes at both places too.

There were many other great places I remember in the Parkade. The Record Breaker store in the 80s. BEATLE RECORDS..yesss..They had the rare stuff, before those shiny little things today, called CD’s. We also had the UA Theatre over there, w its second run films, and INFAMOUS Rocky Horror picture showings and stores like Marshalls (was Butterfield prior), Thom McCain Shoes, Anderson Little, Hallmark, Card Gallery and WT Grants, where my mom loved to buy bedding and clothes for her. Plus there was a radio station, WINF w CT sports legend George Ehrlich. I won TWO Trivia contest when I was like 17 w him.

What will happen now that so many of these things are gone never to come back? I keep hearing people say it will be developed, maybe commercially, or even apartments. But, all I see now are ghosts of my mom, dad and me coming out of Bradlees, or John Sticyr and me meeting at the aforementioned Record Breaker. It was a center of so many people’s lives, my familes, my friend Chris and so many others. Memories are nothing more than real life without a soul. The soul left Manchester when the Parkade started closing, to make way for the malls. It was a place that was more than a place to shop, it was a hangout for so many, and I miss shopping there. One memory I can remember, was Christmas shopping at the Parkade, and not having the annoyance w the big crowds. I can still hear the store announcements at Bradlees: “Welcome Bradlees shoppers. In our hosiery department, Women stockings, two packages for the price of one. Thank you for shopping at your Manchester Bradlees.”

Id love to see more stores there now, but the fire is gone, and you can’t go back in time. Anything that benefits the town is better than what I see every time I go over by there….

Now on to the description...

The shopping center that does not seem to have an official name, but commonly is refered to as the Manchester Parkade or Broad Street Parkade was built from 1966 - 1971. This shopping center has 258,725 square feet of building space and sits on 18.22 acres of land. The original stores were Stop & Shop, King's, and Forbes & Wallace.

The Manchester Parkade has sat by idly for years. This mammoth complex spans from 340 Broad Street to 324 Broad Street in Manchester, Connecticut. Now it seems that this once prominent shopping center is certainly going to be demolished. Plans for redevelopment say that by next June the parkade will be demolished. Just since the pictures on this post were taken (August 2010) the site has been chained of to discourage trespassers, the towering Bradlees sign out front has been removed, a sign promising redevelopment has been set-up, and interior work on removing asbestos has taken place.

Site Plan

A site plan I created with Bing Maps imagery.

Now here are some photos of the Manchester Parkade 

Bradlees Department store

This King's Department store in 1966. After King's closed the store reopened as Bradlees on April 22nd, 1982. Bradlees closed when the chain declared bankruptcy. This store is 70,110 square feet.

The Bradlees sign that was torn down in Mid-2011

This sign is still present on the building to date; making it one of the last intact Bradlees store.

More of the now torn-down sign.

The storefront

Graffiti on the front of the Bradlees store.

Super Stop & Shop grocery store

A 60s or early 70s style Stop & Shop grocery store. Note that not much has changed to the exterior since it opened except that the wood paneling has been painted. This store is 45,715 square feet.

The untouched (except for graffiti) exterior of Stop & Shop.

Mini-Mall section

This originally opened as a Forbes & Wallace department store in 1967 or 1968. This later became a Butterfield's department store after F&W closed up. Most recently this was a Mini-Mall area that featured indoor shops and a Marshall's. After marshall's this was converted to a call center for Carlson Wagonlit Services (a company that offered travel services) in 2000. The call center closed in the early 2000s. The store is 71,000 square feet.

The Strip-Mall section

The Section of the Manchester parkade that housed CVS Pharmacy, Anderson Little, Jo-Ann Fabrics, Hobbytyme, and Card Gallery (to name a few).
The Covered up CVS Pharmacy and Anderson Little signage.

The expanse of the Strip Mall part

Hobbytyme and Jo-Ann Fabrics

Hobbytyme exterior

Jo-Ann Fabrics exterior

The strip mall and the indoor mini-mall

Card Gallery

Video Time!


  1. Dead developments like this one usually dont stay like this for very long in Houston. There seems to be some developer that is ready to flip the empty stores and bring new life into shopping centers. For example all former Circuit City stores have been redeveloped except for two since the chain closed.

  2. This sat like this since after Bradlees closed. Not the "greatest" part of town and the shopping center on the next block/street has everything in it already.

    1. I couldn't agree with you more regarding the "ghosts" of the past. I have so many memories of going to the Bradlees or the CVS before seeing a movie with my parents on a Saturday night. A good chunk of my childhood resides in that Parkade area. I was really saddened when one by one, stores started to leave the area. I'm glad the Parkade Theater was renovated back in 2007 and is still going strong. It's the only theater I go to. As sad as it is to see all the old stores gone and that area vacant for over a decade, it's nice to see something finally happening. I hope they're able to bring in some retail to the area and renovate not just the Parkade but the entire Broad Street area on that side as well.

  3. These pictures are depressing. I truly despise anyone who puts graffiti anywhere and smashing the signs of closed businesses is just wrong- it isn't yours so leave it alone and go get a hobby. I worked at the Manchester Bradlees for 10years and met my husband there. It was old school retail and nothing like the greedy companies of today; the products sold were good quality at a fair price.

    1. Do you remmeber Ann Marie worked in recieving
      please contact me

  4. I worked for Bradlees for 18 years about 13 of them at the Manchester parkade store(also where I started in 1982) I had the opportunity to peak in the inside of the store in summer of 2011 as they were doing interior demo work to the store. Was amazed that it looked exactly the same as it did when I closed the building on its last day Feb. 1, 2001. I took as many pictures as I could (on facebook "manchester parkade Vintage)the demo crew would not let me roam free for safety concerns. I also had the opportunity to take alot of pictures and video of the actual demolition started in May of 2012. This store was a huge part of my life as I met my wife in the manchester parkade. Even though it was time to go I still miss that the building is not there anymore:(

  5. Anyone remember D&L dept. store? I think that was the name, I'm going waaay back to the early 70s. That was where we would get our cub scout uniforms and related wares. I was just a kid but I recall it being sort of the upscale store in the Parkade.

  6. D&L is where I took all of my babysitting money! Never really knew what it was - only that it was very expensive! When I really had extra cash I bought a pair of black and white plaid pants and wore them every chance I could!1989-90! Card Gallery sold all the little charms for my bracelet and stickers for my sticker book in 87. Loved walking to the movies along the railroad tracks too - .96 cents in 1990's. Of course buying Twizzlers and Strawberry Soda in CVS before the movie and shoving them in my purse was part of our ritual!
    I wish Walmart was NOT coming to Spencer Street!

    1. D & L was a small department chain headquartered in New Britain, CT. D & L refers to Davidson & Leventhal. D & L also owned the Weathervane and Sandpiper women's clothing chains.

    2. D & L was over next to Sears two floors with an elevator. It moved to the Buckland Mall when it opened but did not last long there

  7. Does anyone remember a kids playscape area in the parkade? My dad used to take me there when I was little and I cannot remember the name of the place at all it was there in the 90s?

  8. Yes the best of times there on fri sat nights people came from all over ct to see the cars bikes friends-met the girl I was gonna marry 20 years later at channel hardware heather kearns

  9. Correction: "The original stores were Stop & Shop, King's, and Forbes & Wallace."

    Stop&Shop didn't come along until years later (1982) after Bradlees came in ...
    It was custom-built to fit on the side of Bradlees ...

    Stop&Shop was previously located where Walgreen's is now ...

    1. I can't edit the last post, however, click on my name in either of my posts for a complete history of the Manchester Parkade ...

    2. Makes perfect sense given the connection between Bradlees and Stop and Shop under one company.

  10. I'd love to know if anyone has pictures of the old WINF radio studios, inside or out. Please email to A friend publishes a site regarding CT radio history and there is little available regarding this period. Would love to have an image to forward. My memories regarding the Parkade center around visiting Kings in the 70's and especially Record Breaker in the 80's. We practically lived in that store, getting our favorite British imports LPs from bands we'd only hear about on college radio (ie WRTC.) It was a place of discovery and I'll never forget Dave, Craig, Jane and Spike who worked there for so many years. A touchstone to the world, in a way. It was the place to go when one couldn't get a ride to Hartford to visit Capitol Records, which also specialized in the odd, the imports and the rare.

  11. I remember W.T. Grant being at the Parkade as well as the Shady Glen restaurant, Mammoth Mart and King's. We left Connecticut in September of 1970 and the last shopping we did there was at Radio Shack. Too bad it's all gone now.

  12. This entire thing has been torn down now. The mini-mall section housed The Amazing Store for a while, too, before it went defunct. I worked at the Super Stop & Shop, which eventually relocated to the other wing of the Parkade, in 1985ish. There was an arcade in this section of the Parkade, too - Fun Stop.

  13. Also, I saw Motorhead at the Record Breaker, not sure what year, early to mid-80s... I was like 2 feet away from Lemmy's mole!

  14. Man, a lot of memories there at the Parkade. My family used to go shopping there all the time in the late 60s and early 70s. Kings, Grants, Sears, Card Gallery, Reed's Book Store and if you needed something on Sunday, TREASURE CITY! I believe the owners were Jewish and were closed on Saturday which allowed them to be open on Sunday. The old blue laws were pretty odd. My family left Connecticut in 1974 but came back about a year later. We finally left for good in the fall of 76. I'm glad I got to be there for the Bicentennial. I think my fondest memories of the Parkade were the trips to Kings. We always got a big box of Topsy's Popcorn at the snack bar. Also, having a cheeseburger and s shake at Shady Glenn. Those weird paintings of the elves on the walls in there were rather bizarre, but it just made the place all that more memorable. I looked up our old house over on McKee St just south of West Center. I'm glad my dad isn't alive to see it, it looks pretty trashed. All the maple trees and hedges are gone and the owners park their vehicles on the lawn. Back in the day it was a beaut, now it's crap. It's true, you can't go home again

  15. W.T. Grants was in the 'older' part of the Parkade. The older part was where Sears, D&L, Praugh Shoes, Shady Glen (the only branch of Shady Glen), W.T. Grants (2 stories with offices over the WT Grants), Youth Center, Treasure Chest Jewelers, Radio Shack, a few other stores, Grand Union and Grandway. No Mammoth Mart there...The new part was first a Kings, which moved from the old Cheney Mills. Mammoth Mart was in East Hartford.

  16. Does anyone remember David's in the 70s. Used to see a band there the was really awesome. I think they were from Mass. Don't remember their name


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