A 100 Year Review of Berks – Happy New Year 2020!

Happy New Year Berks County! Not only is it a new year but also the beginning of a new decade. As we leave behind the 2010s, let’s look back on the beginning of the last 10 decades, and some of the events that we experienced together as a community during them. The past is important and sometimes comforting, but it is also important to look forward. There is so much more nostalgia yet to be made!

1920

Notable Events from this Decade

1930

Notable Events from this Decade

1940

Notable Events from this Decade

1950

Notable Events from this Decade

1960

Notable Events from this Decade

1970

Notable Events from this Decade

1980

Notable Events from this Decade

1990

Notable Events from this Decade

2000

Notable Events from this Decade

2010

Notable Events from this Decade

Miracle Mart – 2101 Centre Ave

Miracle Mart - Reading

Miracle Mart was a 50,000 square foot department store on Route 61/Centre Ave in North Reading. There is very little information online about Miracle Mart or its origins, besides that there was a more well-documented and unrelated Canadian department store chain by the same name. Looking at aerial photos of the area leads me to believe this location in Reading, Pennsylvania was opened in 1959.

October 1958 Aerial

The aerial photograph above was from October 1958, and it appears the building in the location of Miracle Mart is much smaller and shaped differently than the aerial below from July 1971. Perhaps it was under construction or it is another building entirely. Also cropped in the above photograph is Reading Municipal Stadium, which sits diagonally across Route 61 from the department store.

July 1971 Aerial

The newspaper ads below are from the November 1959 Reading Eagle. So its fairly safe to assume the store was built and opened at some point in the year between the aerial and ad.

1959 Reading Eagle Ad

Miracle Mart was just another face in the sea of discount stores that exploded into popularity in the mid-century. The market became over-saturated and like many others, Miracle Mart was eventually consumed by a bigger fish. In 1973 Miracle Mart was bought out by King’s Discount Department store, which operated over 100 other stores across the country at the time.

July 1973 Ad from Reading Eagle

Aside: These ads from 1973 have King’s listed at the junction of Routes 61 & 422, but surely they meant route 61 and route 12/Warren St Bypass? I’m not sure why the bypass there would have ever been considered 422. Even before the Schuylkill bypass 422 business ran East – West through Reading on Penn Street. If you know what’s up with this, feel free to drop it in the comments.

August 1973 Ad from Reading Eagle

Completing the circle of retail life; King’s Department Store filed for bankruptcy in 1982 after it reached a pinnacle of 190 stores nationwide and went defunct by 1984. Eventually this location was converted into office space.

2101 Centre Ave

Currently, the building is occupied by Berks County Intermediate Unit.

Another Company located in this office park is Fromm Electric. I found this Retro signage from Google street view in 2015. It looks like they recently updated the sign and covered their old logo up. Bit of a shame, the cursive “Fromm” is in a lovely mid-century style.

Fromm Electric Retro Sign

Happy Thanksgiving! November 28th, 1974

Thanksgiving Day also fell on November 28th in 1974. Here is a look at that day’s Reading Eagle:

Walter S. Shearer, who owns a poultry farm in Sinking Spring R.D. 6, holds one of his flock. To find out what eventually happened to this turkey turn to page 31 – Eagle Photo

That homemade taste of goodness was plentiful in Berks County today as thousands celebrate Thanksgiving with families and friends. And, of course, Thanksgiving means turkey time for many. Mrs. Donald E. Horning, above of 25 Larchwood Road, Wyomissing, is delighted with a turkey she selects at the Shearer poultry stand in the Shillington Farmers’ Market. Helping her with the selection is Carmen S. Rolinski, son-in-law of Walter S. Shearer, owner of the Sinking Spring R.D. 6 poultry farm. Mrs. Horning, right, gives her husband a sneak preview of things to come while, below, Mr. Horning reacts to that stuffed feeling of Thanksgiving feast. – Eagle Photos by Richard T. Miller

Demolition Under Way

The former fire damaged Reading School District supply house at 933 Walnut St. is being demolished by Rossi Welding Inc., 316 Franklin St., which will use the area for a parking lot. The firm purchased the structure for $9500. -Eagle Photo

Santa at the Berkshire Mall

Santa Claus will make his magic entrance tomorrow morning at 9:30 on our 2nd level then wisk down the glass elevator into his snowy Christmas Village in the Center Court. The first 1,000 children to greet jolly old St. Nick will receive a special gift box of Christmas Candy to sweeten their Holiday spirits.

Santa’s whole gang is back this year including his elves and his giant toy soldiers and his train and workshop and reindeer barn and a whole mallfull of splendid holiday trimmings. So we sure to get the kids up early tomorrow and plan to spend the day shopping through beautiful Berkshire Mall where 87 fine stores are busting and brimming with holiday values for all.