Shillington High School

In 1925, the new Shillington High School was constructed on East Lancaster Avenue on land that was part of the Berks County Alms House complex. An addition of twelve rooms was completed in 1930 and four more rooms were completed in 1936. The last senior class of the Shillington High School graduated in 1953, after which time the building served the newly organized Governor Mifflin School District. It served as Governor Mifflin High School until 1957 when it became Governor Mifflin Junior High School. In 1962, extensive renovations and a sizable addition were completed.

The remodeled building served the community for 30 more years before it was demolished during the summer of 1992, to make way for the new Governor Mifflin Middle School. This building proudly displayed the motto, Learn To Live … Live To Learn for 67 years. The very same letters were saved and are proudly displayed today on the Governor Mifflin Middle School on the same site and nearly the same place.  –Source

Below is a video of the demolition of the building from 1992:

If you have any memories or info to share from your time here, join the Shillington High School discussion on our forums: https://berksnostalgia.com/forums/topic/shillington-high-school/

The Park Theatre – 1016 Penn St

The Park Theater opened November 11, 1926, and it was closed by a fire on May 19, 1978. The theater was demolished the following year.

James S. Maurer operated the theater as a X-rated movie and live burlesque house, and in 1964 he was arrested along with two strippers in a raid by the Reading police.  In the late 1950s and 1960s, the raids were fairly common.  Maurer eventually bought the theater building, circa 1975.  The building may have been leased to a New Jersey company in 1976, but Maurer was still involved in the management and operation of the theater.  Burlesque shows returned, and he was arrested in another raid in January 1977. On May 3, 1978, the city declared the Park Theater and the adjoining Daniel Boone Hotel “unfit for human habitation”.  Maurer appealed the ruling and both businesses stayed open, but shortly after, the fire destroyed everything.

1936

One of the featured strippers, “Jada” was connected to Jack Ruby and the Carousel Club in Dallas:

According to his 1993 Obituary,

James S. Maurer, died June 28, 1993, age 69.

President of James S. Maurer Investments, Inc.

Owned the Park Theater, the Park Luncheonette, the Frontier Bar, the Daniel Boone Hotel and the Park Bowling Alley.

In May, 1978, a fire destroyed the theater and damaged the hotel.  Two months later, a fire destroyed the hotel and taproom.

In January, 1979, charges of arson against Maurer were dropped following a hearing before a district justice.  He had been charged in December, 1978, with starting the blaze.

He was an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for mayor in 1967.

He appeared several times before a federal grand jury in Philadelphia, which probed kickbacks to officials in Reading and Berks County.

Huge thanks to David Procter for putting together all of this information!

Reading Hospital Photo Mystery

I got an email asking for help to solve the mystery of where the below photo was taken. The photo is of the back of the Reading Hospital around the time it was built in the mid-late 20s.

I checked out a few aerial photos I have of the area from 1927 and 1940. Due to the angle of the shot being straight on, I concluded it have to be on the museum grounds, and had to have been taken in the general area circled below.

When I looked a little harder at the photo the below things popped out at me. I believe a stone wall, Wyomissing Creek and Parkside Drive North (which was just a dirt road then) are visible in the photo. The stone wall is still at the museum, it runs along the Museum side.

Stone wall today

However, the image doesn’t appear to be taken from the museum itself. Does anyone remember another structure being on the museum grounds? Maybe some sort of stone gazebo with the swan decorative railing? Any information would be appreciated.

Glen Gery Brick Plant – Wyomissing

Glen Gery Brick Plant - Wyomissing

The company’s unassuming origins can be traced back to Reading, Pennsylvania, in 1890, during the height of the Industrial Revolution when new construction was abound. A local businessman, Albert A. Gery, nicknamed AA, decided to try his hand at making fire brick. With financing from his father-in-law, Mathan Harbster, a prominent hardware merchant, Gery purchased 32 acres of land rich in fire clay near the Montello Station of the legendary Reading Railroad. Gery built two rectangular kilns and formed the Montello Clay and Brick Company.

His intent was to make dense fire brick; however, in an unexpected turn of events, Gery was contacted by a Philadelphia contractor who needed a million red common facebrick to build the Wernersville State Hospital, five miles from Montello. With this job, the new brick company fired up.

Soon large orders for building brick came in, and the refractory product was dropped. The company became profitable and, in 1898, built a new plant in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania. This facility applied the novel continuous firing process in what was then the largest brick kiln in the United States. That same year, the company reorganized as a holding company called the United States Brick Company. Five plants were added to the organization, including one outfitted with 15 tunnel kilns, the first of such type firing enclosures in the U.S. – Source

Glen Gery’s headquarters is still located in Wyomissing, but the plant has since moved to Route 61 in Shoemakersville.

The Strand Theatre – 9th & Spring St.

The Strand Theatre
1934

The Strand Theatre
Opening Night February 21, 1920

The Strand Theatre
1924

Located at the corner of NE 9th Street & Spring Street. The Strand Theatre was opened February 21, 1920. By 1941 it was owned and operated by Goldman Theatres of Philadelphia. It was a fairly large theatre with a balcony, and had a huge wrap-around neon lit marquee. For years it was a neighborhood double feature second run house.

In around 1968, Goldman began to program first run features. In 1970, the Strand Theatre was badly damaged in a fire, which occurred around the same time as a fire which destroyed the Embassy Theatre in downtown Reading. The fire at the Strand Theatre was set by three kids, and it possibly never reopened. In 1972 the property was sold to Budco, however, it was torn down and replaced by a restaurant. – Cinema Treasures

The Stand Theatre
1970s Fire – photo by Reading PA Fire

The Stand Theatre
1970s Fire – photo by Reading PA Fire