Open, airy, and lined with palm trees, Center Court is the focal point of the Galleria.
A central court of this large size was unusual for a mall built in the 1990s. They were standard fare in midcentury malls, which were built to be large community showplaces, but had fallen out of favor as developers avoided "wasting space" that could otherwise be used for dollar-generating stores.
Richard Simmons filmed part of his "Farewell to Fat" infomercial at the Galleria in August 1995. It has some great shots of Center Court, including the original staircase with its blue neon accents.
What happened to the stairs?
Center Court originally had a grand, double staircase on the south side (between what was most recently the Gap and Forever 21), as seen in this image taken during construction.
The stairs were removed around 2000 as part of a lease agreement with Old Navy, which took over the old Lerner New York space. Thanks to Brandon, who provided this info:
"I worked at Old Navy when the Taunton store opened. I was in Dartmouth but they brought a bunch of us up to get the store ready. Old Navy (at the time at least) had conditions in its leases that there be nothing in front of the store. They were a major force back then. In Dartmouth, the mall ripped out a built in seating area and in Taunton, the mall had to rip out those center stairs."
After acquiring the Galleria in 2013, co-owners MGHerring Group and Tricom Real Estate Group planned a multi-million dollar renovation as part of their effort to revive the mall.
The renovation included a makeover of Center Court that added a pair of escalators on the north side (opposite the location of the original stairs), restoring access between the two levels for the first time in 15 years.
The renovation also brought a new paint scheme (goodbye, '80s pink and teal), new carpeting, and new escalators. The palm trees, hanging ivies, and signature arrow-shaped sconces at the top of the columns were all removed.