Planning for the mall began in the late 1960s. Sears was announced to be the first major planned tenant in November 1967, to replace its nearby Shillington location which had opened in 1956. Construction got underway in 1968, with an “official” kickoff in November of that year. The mall opened in February 1970, and was the first enclosed shopping mall to open in eastern Pennsylvania outside of the Philadelphia area.
The mall’s name is taken from the source of the name of Berks County, an abbreviation of the English royal county Berkshire. The old fountain in the center of the mall had been choreographed by local Reading company “Symphonic Fountains”. An upper level food court, The Terrace Cafe, held its grand opening December 7-10, 1989. It replaced a Victorian themed mini-mall known simply as “Lamp Post Lane”.
The original owner and developer of the mall was the Goodman Company, which sold the property to Equitable Real Estate Management in 1985. In July 2002, the mall was acquired by Allied Properties.
The Sinking Spring Drive-In was opened on August 3rd, 1955. It was considered a first-class operation at the time of it’s opening. Those driving east on Route 422 from Wernersville could see the screen from nearly a half a mile away.
Shortly after it’s opening, it was bought by Fox Theatres of Reading, PA, whom also operated the Reading Drive-In and the Mt. Penn Drive-In. They continued operating until the late 1980’s when the Drive-In was initially closed down. With a renewed interest in drive-in theaters, it opened again around Memorial Day 1990, debuting with Back to the Future III. It was then operated until 1996 when it was sold to be razed and strip mall shopping center to be built in it’s place.
In 1958, three years after Sinking Spring Drive-In opened, there were approximately 5,000 American drive-ins. Today, there are only about 400.
All Pictures from May 1992 from the John Lewis collection.
Newspaper Article from the August 2nd, 1955 Edition of the Reading Eagle
Information credit: Cinematreasures.org