How Bergen Mall Was Unique - And Not Just Because of the Church Chapel

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How Bergen Mall Was Unique - And Not Just Because of the Church Chapel

A Journey into Paramus

Though we never worshiped there, we were saddened by the news that the Chapel on the Mall (St. Therese's Chapel) at Bergen Mall (now Bergen Towne Center) is closing.

It is yet another reminder how different things are these days - at the "Towne Center" and beyond.

We especially recall how Bergen Mall, especially in its early years was as much an attempt at making community as it was to build a shopping center.

Yes, there were the stores from Stern's and Newberry to Ripley's and Wolfie's Deli.

But there was also the Playhouse on the Mall that featured Broadway caliber live stage productions (Ann Miller was a favorite featured star; so was Margaret Truman), or the movie theater that showed great foreign films. There was a post office and a barber shop and even a small amusement area in the outdoor plaza that included a merry-go-round a brief train ride.

The chapel was part of this community. At once period mainstream, eclectic and cutting edge.

The Bergen Mall was an effort to now just relocate stores from Main Street to the community of old celery farms. Instead it sought to create a place that brought people together to interact as well as a shop - a modern day town square in deed not just in name.

To many the closing of the church is no big deal, reflecting the sentiment that such amenities are outmoded and irrelevant in today's commercial market . But to others of us it is a passing of sensibility of what did and probably still does matter -  even to those of us never worshiped there.

How Bergen Mall Was Unique - And Not Just Because of the Church Chapel