Earl Building – 525 Penn St

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Earl Building Penn Street Reading
M.J. 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. The Earl Building was built around 1880 on the site of famous Revolutionary War Doctor Bodo Otto’s home and practice. 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.” –

Earl Building Penn Street Reading
Then [colorized] and today

Apparently they are still a local company, now residing on Pottsville Pike. There is still advertising visible on the west side of the building promoting the paper products once sold there.

Visible is paper advertisement on the top of the west facing part of the building

The words on the facia of the building boasted;


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

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Joe Lienti
Joe Lienti
5 years ago

Sometime in the 90s smith’s bail bonds had used the building for his operation. Spent alot of time as a contractor in that building

Todd C Jeffries
Todd C Jeffries
5 years ago

Nice to see an old building still standing, still in use.

David Procter
David Procter
5 years ago

So it is on the north side of Penn Street. Somewhere in that area used to be Pep Boys before they moved to their new location on Penn near Third Street. It was a very small store and not self-serve. The clerks went in the back to fill your order.

Berks Nostalgia