Sturgis Pretzel Co – Portland Ave – Then and Now

Pictured in 1975

Victor Brand Sturgis Pretzel Company – There were Sturgis Pretzel Bakeries located in Lititz, Wyomissing and West Wyomissing (the above pictured location) opened under the Sturgis Pretzel Co. name, but these were opened and ran by sons and grandsons of the original Tom Sturgis. Source

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

Sno-Kist – Route 222 – Shillington

Photo taken by C.E. Werley

Sno-Kist was a beloved summer ice-cream place that was located along route 222, just south of Shillington. It was directly across the street from an Adult Video store called the RT. 222 News Outlet and was just north of Simotas Dairy Bar. The building had been an ice cream stand since the 1950s, always called Sno-Kist, but only operated under the most recent and final management since 1988, when it was purchased by Dimitrios Kiritsis.

Image from the Sno-kist facebook fan page
Aerial of the ice cream stand in 1958

Sno-Kist eventually became a casualty of the 222 highway expansion in the early 2000s, along with many other businesses that were located along Lancaster Pike. Sno-kist ultimately closed permanently after the offer from the state not being enough to relocate the business.

August 5th, 1999 Reading Eagle article, click to enlarge

Above is the view today of where Sno-Kist once stood. The former site of Sno-kist is right on the South bound lanes of 222. Macadamed over but forever in the memories of those who enjoyed a sweet summer treat there. You can just see the green roof of the home in the first picture above peaking out from above the sound barrier.

Earl Building – 523/525 Penn St

Earl Building in Reading, Pa., 1890, 2002251_2_076, Box 1, Folder 2, Warren-Ehret Company photograph albums (Accession 2002.251), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807

The M. J. Earl Building pictured around the turn of the 20th century at 523/525 Penn Street in Reading. It appears there were a few offices inside. One was home to an office of Prudential Insurance, ran by J.S. DeHart. It appears there was also a Cigar manufacturer and a Fur Hat store. The rest was a part of the M.J. Earl company. According to their website, the M.J. Earl INC,

“Founded in 1842, MJ Earl Inc. was in the paper business when toilets were outhouses and printers were presses.
First situated in downtown Reading, Pennsylvania, MJ Earl has since relocated to the Greater Reading region, and serves a multitude of businesses from Harrisburg to the Delaware Valley.” –
http://www.mjearl.com/

Apparently they are still a local company, now residing on Pottsville Pike.

The words on the facia of the building boasted;

RETAIL, MANUFACTURER, JOBBER
BAGS, ENVELOPES, ROPE
PAPER, WALL PAPER, PAPER

The Earl building in 2019

Is it me or can you still see the faint outline of the word “EARL” on the facia?

Paul’s Men’s Shop – 527 Penn St

the 1950s

Paul’s was a men’s clothing store along the 500 block of Penn street in the 50s and 60s. Couldn’t find a date on when it closed.

2019

Today the building is occupied by a pizza place.