In the “big” town near us, where the little explorers go to school, there is a rusty old structure kicking around behind the newfangled pharmacy and clinic.
I’ve lived in the area for about 7 years and have never gotten around to stopping to investigate. That’s likely due to growing and raising small humans while letting my business cool it’s heels very close to the dustbin, but I digress.
Standing side-by-side like two bloodstained skeletons of consumerism, the “South Shore Mall” buildings or Met Mart as some locals may know them, are a rather large poster child for what happens when trends and styles – architectural, traffic flow or otherwise – change so rapidly. Urban sprawl, urban decay and the like are all the result of right-nowism gone awry, with no attention paid to community needs such as walkability, public transport or heritage preservation.
This mall, in use until the late 90’s has two rumoured causes of it’s demise. The first being the newer, and larger, Bridgewater Mall, located down the block, beside the LaHave River and nearer to downtown. The other possible culprit, water damage. The buildings were apparently plagued with water issues, mostly arising from too high a water table underneath, leading to the being easily flooded.
But, the abandonment and “demolition” of these structures, whatever the true cause, is not without a different sort of merit, the kind that few pay attention to. That is the need for teens and preteens to congregate, to explore their independence, to SKATE for goodness sake. As a big believer in, and supporter of, freedom, fun, rebellious & (at least somewhat) respectful youth culture. I can see the beauty of these behemoths for what it is: a blank canvas where cool shit can go down outside the notice of most of the town inhabitants and inaccessible to cop cars.
For this reason I find myself a bit disappointed to discover a lack of vibrancy to the place, devoid of all but the most perfunctory graffiti. You know it’s disappointing if I have not added the word art after graffiti. It seems as if no one has quite made the place their own yet. There is some scant evidence of plywood skate ramps and litterbug, Monster energy guzzling teenagers, though very little.
I began my visit by parking off site and strolling through the former parking lot, now cracked and being slowly reclaimed by nature. Here are the lines where, not all that long ago, people would roll up to play parking lot BINGO on Sundays – honk your horn to call BINGO.
The first husk of building that I entered is apparently the one where Metropolitan Mart used to be. It was pretty vast and had a curious additional bit of steel framing at the back. Changing rooms, perhaps? Offices?
BTW, the graffiti there speaks for itself. 😉
This building is where I found remnants of skate ramps and small obstacles for doing tricks. Looks like it would be a great place for boarding and biking, as the cement inside the structure isn’t in too bad of shape.
Some tidbits of graffiti were present as well…
Traversing the other side of the parking lot I discovered Mount Rubble, the 12′ high tip of debris left behind after demolition. Enticing simply for it’s scale, I have to admit that, as a gal who worked on the restoration of 12th and 13th-century cathedrals, there was little of particular interest to me to be found in, or around, Mt. Rubble. However, dreaming of a post industrial world, there were a couple tiny finds.
Next, I checked out the bigger building which was the main part of the former mall and housed, among other things, a movie theatre, a hobby store, travel agency, gymnastics studio, dentist’s office, gift shop and some kind of rad sounding Teen Zone thing that hosted DJ’ed dances and had laser tag.
With a quick stroll around the perimeter first, I can say for certain that rumours of severe water issues with this location have not been exaggerated. The entire place was surrounded on three sides with a good two feet of water, as if it had been built on land reclaimed from a swamp. This being Nova Scotia, that is likely to be true.
I have decided to lovingly coin the surrounds as “the moat.” Here are a few pics of it.
There was also one picturesque corner inside the structure which I have deemed “the atrium.” 🙂
Some elements that I found visually interesting were the roof, still intact and with a nice colour contrast, and the cables in the concrete flooring. What once was hidden, now laid bare.
I leave you with a token smattering of graffiti and my sincere wish that I had been around to explore this set of structures before final demolition. Still though I, myself, may have missed out, other people did indeed attempt it. Below you can find their video record…