It’s Christmastime, snow is falling, and shoppers are catching the bus back to Millmont from 5th & Penn St.
The Hitching Post was a very popular restaurant located in the Springmont section of West Lawn. Built in the 1930s, it was originally a Howard Johnson’s. It then became an establishment called the Imperial Club. Finally, it became the Hitching Post in the 1960s. Countless anniversaries, birthdays, organizational meetings and other celebrations were held here over the course of 4 decades.
The Hitching Post in West Lawn closed its doors in mid-1997.
In February 1999 Wawa finalized development plans for a Wawa Convenience store to be built on the site of the Hitching Post, and in July they purchased it.
Wawa opened it’s West Lawn location shortly after New Year 2000. Not everyone was happy with Wawa’s rampant takeover of Berks.
As much as I love Wawa, maybe Kyle has a point. We sacrifice history for convenience all the time. Many of these places that take us back to a different time are gone, but my goal with Berks Nostalgia is to make sure they are never forgotten.
The Hitching Post returned in 2011, under a new generation of the Zeppos family, who owned it in West Lawn from 1979-1991. It is located in Bern Township along Route 183. It is still in business today and has great reviews.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A water pumping station along Old Lancaster Pike in Cumru Township owned by Citizens Utilities Water Co. was destroyed in an explosion Tuesday night, leveling the structure to concrete slabs. The force of the explosion, heard up to five miles away, blew the doors off the building through the containment fence.
“Fearing that the blast had triggered a chlorine leak, police evacuated some 200 residents from about 40 homes after the 10:15 explosion. Police told residents to leave the area for a brief time. No Injuries were reported. Residents were allowed to return a short time later after officials determined there was no chlorine in the station.“
“Cumru Township Fire Marshal Timothy M. Dougherty said the explosion may have been sparked by a malfunction in either a gas generator or furnace operating inside the 30-by-30-foot concrete pumping station near Trusty’s Lawn & Garden Equipment along route 222.“