Carsonia Park Aerial – Then and Now – 1937


Carsonia Park opened in 1896 and operated until 1950. It’s extensive history can be read here. It appears that the only thing that remains is the pool and lake. The main midway was built over by housing many years ago.

seasonal grand opening in 1931

Blockbuster Video – A Relic of the Past

Blockbuster Shillington
Old Location on RT. 724 in Shillington.  Photo Source

There were once four Blockbuster locations in Berks County, one being the above on Route 724/Lancaster Pike in Shillington. The others were at 4860 Penn Ave in Sinking Spring near Redner’s Market, 3262 N 5th Street Highway in Muhlenberg Shopping Plaza, and 3985 Perkiomen Avenue in Mt. Penn/Exeter.

Berks county Blockbuster Video
RT. 724 Blockbuster after bankruptcy & closure. Turned into a Walgreens
4860 Penn Ave Sinking Spring Blockbuster, all the way on the left.
Perkiomen Ave/Exeter Promenade Blockbuster Location

Blockbuster, was an American-based provider of home movie and video game rental services through video rental shops, DVD-by-mail, streaming, video on demand, and cinema theater. Blockbuster became internationally known throughout the 1990s. At its peak in 2004, Blockbuster employed 84,300 people worldwide, including about 58,500 in the United States and about 25,800 in other countries, and had 9,094 stores in total, with more than 4,500 of these in the US.

Competition from the Netflix mail-order service, Redbox automated kiosks, and video on demand services were major factors in Blockbuster’s eventual demise. Blockbuster began to lose significant revenue during the 2000s, and in 2010, the company filed for bankruptcy protection. The following year, its remaining 1,700 stores were bought by satellite television provider Dish Network. While the Blockbuster brand has mostly been retired, Dish still maintains a small number of Blockbuster franchise agreements, which allows some stores to remain open in a few markets. – Source

There are still a few Blockbusters around, but if you want to visit one you might need a plane ticket. Most locations are in Alaska, two are in Oregon, and one in Texas. They are still very successful in Alaska due to certain streaming and internet services still not being offered there. The only way to get movies in some parts of Alaska are still a Blockbuster video store!

My future children will never know the excitement of walking into a Blockbuster Video on a Friday or Saturday night to pick out a movie for a friend sleepover, family movie night, or date night. For that reason, we can officially file Blockbuster (and family video rental stores in general) under “Nostalgia”.

Quick Clean Carsonia

Quick Clean Carsonia
In the 1960s

Pictured is the Quick Clean Laundromat on 747 Carsonia Ave in Mount Penn in the 1960s. It is still currently a laundromat and goes by “Jakes Coin Laundry“. Jake’s is a chain of laundromat’s all over Berks and Lehigh Counties since 1995.

Quick Clean Carsonia

Schmeck’s Food Market

Schmeck’s was a Pennside food market at the corner of Carsonia and Harvey Avenues. In December of 1970, owner Donald Schmeck sold his market to Earl Redner, founder of Redner’s food stores. He operated it as an IGA grocery store for some time before changing the name to the standard “Redner’s”. Today it is still a Redner’s grocery store.

Schmeck's Food MarketSchmeck's Food MarketSchmeck's Food Market

Keuscler’s Roost

“Jacob Louis Kuechler was a man of the mountains. Indeed, he made his home and his livelihood in the rocks, trees and hollows on Mount Penn. Living alone, Kuechler had a well-earned reputation as a hermit. But he was far from a recluse.
His homey cabin was a stop on the Mount Penn Gravity Railroad. Visitors were treated to homemade wine, bread, cheese and Kuechler’s specialty hasenpfeffer – a German rabbit stew. Kuechler rarely left his mountain retreat. When he died in 1904 at St. Joseph Medical Center, Kuechler had not left the summit of Mount Penn for 20 years, said George M. Meiser IX, Berks County historian. When the Mount Penn railroad opened in 1889, Kuechler’s roost was the fourth stop on the winding mountain tour, just down from the famed Tower Hotel, Crupi said. As the popularity of the railroad increased, so did Kuechler’s roost, she said. From the wooden shack just off the trolley line, Kuechler sold wine, cheese and his woodsy fare. He became a celebrity of the mountain with his scraggly beard, long pipe and wry glances. A native of Germany, Kuechler came to Reading in the 1870s and operated a saloon at 523 Penn St., Meiser said. It was there that he developed friendships and a devoted following.  In 1882, Kuechler purchased several acres on the eastern slope of Mount Penn to make wine and live in isolation. But friends sought him out. After Kuechler died at age 74, his property was purchased by Carl A. Schaich, who opened a much larger and grander establishment on the mountain.  The business lasted until 1919 when sparks from a Fourth of July firecracker set the building on fire, Crupi said.  A few of reminders of Kuechler are still present on the mountain, including a wine cellar off List Road, Crupi said. It’s in a lonely spot in the woods, well-hidden from view, an apt monument to the Hermit of Mount Penn.”

Source: Reading Eagle

Today, the only remains are of the wine cellar seen in the first & second pictures.