Sights of North Side Penn Street in the 1940s

Penn Street – North Side – 400 Block….1940s…Reading: We look to the Northeast corner to the landmark Saylor food business stand. In the foreground is car 809 as it appeared in 1947, end-of-the-line year for city trolleys. Looking to the background is an imposing grey-stone structure built as Reading Girls’ High School. At this juncture, it was Reading’s “special school” for students with learning problems.

North Side Penn Street 1940s

Off to the right is a large old building that years ago was the Roosevelt Hotel. At the time this picture was taken – on Oct. 13th, 1946 – its lower level contained two retail stores, one of which was the Charles Store, which soon afterwards moved across the street to the building occupied by Sears & Roebuck prior to their relocation to Lancaster Avenue in Shillington.

North Side Penn Street 1940s

Looking to the North Side of Penn Street, Warner Theatre – 755 Penn – 1940s – Courthouse in Background, Reading: Most prominent in this view is the imposing sign for the Embassy. Between the Embassy and northwest corner of 8th and Penn was the Warner, a relatively simple theatre with aisles on the left and right sides of the auditorium. Originally, when the theatre-site was developed as the Hippodrome, Reading’s premiere vaudeville house, the auditorium and stage were huge. The west end, perpendicular to Penn, was cut by 2/3 – for storeroom creation – and what was left became the State Theatre, a venue largely characterized by the showing of cowboy films. Indeed, Roy Rogers made a personal visit in Dec. 1938. In 1941, Warner Brothers leased the theater and proceeded to make major renovations; a new marquee, box office, lobby, restrooms, and a smoking room! The theatre, with seating for 1,228, opened Apr. 12, 1941. Like the Astor, the Plaza, and other theatres experiencing dwindling audiences and revenue, latter-day fare increasingly included R-rated films. On March 14, 1963, the Warner closed and was removed to make way for the projected Penn Street Mall, an ill-fated venture if there ever was one! -Photo Courtesy of Joseph DeAngelo

All images and copy from the Passing Scene

600 Block Penn Street, North Side 1941

Penn Street….600 Block, north side…..READING: – Taken Around 1941, we see parts of 653 to 665 Penn. Faintly and partly visible on the extreme left is Lowe’s Theatre. Hardly visible next door is Robette Hats at 661- Followed by Sterns at 663 and Carlson Hats and Shoes at 665. Notice the railroad gate on the right. The light in the window is at Read’s Department Store. – Photo taken by, and courtesy of, Joseph L. “Joe” Gerhart, Centre Ave., Reading. – From the Passing Scene

Berks County Christmas – Day 21 – Koziar’s Christmas Village

The Christmas Village was originally known as Spring Lake Dairy Farm. When William M. Koziar began decorating the farm for Christmas in 1948, the display was created for the enjoyment of Koziar’s wife, Grace, and their four children. It originally centered on the house and barn. Soon after, the display became more elaborate and incorporated the lake, walkways, trees, and fences. Over time, the private display became a popular local attraction known as the ‘Christmas House.’ Traffic nearby would slow down because passersby would drive by slowly to get a chance to view the display.

Eventually, visitors were admitted to the premises, and Koziar soon turned the wheat field into a parking space. The dairy farm remained active at first. The Koziars had to wait until the cows were milked before the family could turn on the lights because there was not enough power for the milking machines and the lights to operate simultaneously.

Many of the dioramas were housed in old chicken coops, displaying toys and clothes of the Koziar children and grandchildren.

In 2008, Koziar’s Christmas Village celebrated its 60th anniversary. It remains a family-owned attraction, currently operated by the Koziar daughters while several employees are second and third generation associates.


Berks County Christmas – Day 15 – Snowfall

400 block of Penn Street in the 1940s after a light snow fall. We see Shaffer Furniture Co, a State Liquor Store in the former mansion that was demolished in May 1980, Acme Market, Ramos Brothers Hat Cleaning, Charles Auto Supply,  and Sunshine Inn (formerly Barbey’s).

Picture from The Passing Scene

Berks County Christmas – Day 14 – Christmas Tree

Fourteenth Day of Christmas – yet another shot of the Christmas tree standing in the center of the circle at 5th and Penn Streets downtown. 1940s