The Berkshire Mall

Planning for the Berkshire 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 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”.

Berkshire Mall 1985
In 1985 – the middle fountain and upstairs before the food court.
The Berkshire Mall
Berkshire Mall under construction in 1969

The first three anchor tenants were Sears on the north end, John Wanamaker’s on the south end and Lit Brothers in the center anchor. Lit Brothers left after 5 years in 1975, and was replaced by Pomeroy’s.

John Wanamaker BerkshireMall

In 1995 Wanamaker’s converted all of its stores into “Hecht’s”, including the Berkshire Mall anchor. This only lasted another year at the mall and was replaced by a Strawbridge’s Department Store in 1996. Strawbridge’s went defunct completely in 2006, but vacated its anchor spot at the Berkshire Mall in 2002. Boscov’s closed their “West” location shortly after and moved to that mall anchor to replace Strawbrdge’s, and still resides there.

In the mid-1980s Pomeroy’s was sold to the BonTon, and transition into the new branding was not completed until 1989.

The Berkshire Mall

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”. A popular restaurant called Gadget’s was a part of this upstairs area between 1982 and 1984.

Sear Fountain Berkshire Mall

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.

In April of 2018 the Bonton announced it was in bankruptcy and proceeding with liquidation of all of its assets. The center anchor closed by the end of June of that same year. Shortly after in October of 2018 the long-time struggling Sears also finally underwent bankruptcy and proceeded with liquidation. Within the span of 6 months the Berkshire Mall went from fully occupied with anchors to only 33%.

The Berkshire Mall

In September 2020, Allied Properties sold the mall to a New York based firm called Namdar Realty Group. Their reviews online are less than stellar and the fate of the Berkshire Mall is yet to be determined.

Shop Berkshire Mall Vintage Apparel

Source: Wikipedia

Born and raised in Berks, I am fascinated by the design, architecture, culture & style of the 20th century. I started this website to research and build a collection of the places, things and stories I have heard about my entire life. Read more here.

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