Warren Street Bypass / US 222 and 422 and Bern Road (State Hill Road)
Berks County (Borough of Wyomissing), Pennsylvania

Eastern Pennsylvania's first fully-enclosed shopping center outside of the Philadelphia metropolitan area was built on a 70 acre site, located 2 miles west of downtown Reading, in the Borough of Wyomissing. Construction commenced on the BERKSHIRE MALL project November 22, 1968. The 25 million dollar, single-level center was developed by Allentown's Goodman Company and encompassed 890,000 leasable square feet.

The first tenants opened for business February 10, 1970. Included in this round of dedications were a 2-level (115,000 square foot) Sears, which sat on the north end of the complex, and 2-level (158,300 square foot), Philadelphia-based Lit Brothers, which occupied the center anchor position.

On the south end of the complex was its third anchor, a 3-level (183,800 square foot), Philadelphia-based John Wanamaker. This store came inline August 10, 1970. By April 1971, the full complement of seventy-six stores and services was open for business, including those on a second level, overlooking the Lit Brothers Court and fountain.

This upstairs area, known as Lamp Post Lane, was accessed by a glass-enclosed elevator. Done in an 18th century, "Colonial Williamsburg" motif, it featured the John Davis House Restaurant, Budget Uniform and American Handicrafts shoppes.

Stores and services in the completed BERKSHIRE MALL included Lerner Shops, Whitner's, Waldenbooks, Wrangler Wroost, Thom McAn Shoes and a 27,000 square foot F.W. Woolworth. A single-screen cinematic venue, the mallway-connected Berkshire Mall Theatre, had begun business August 25, 1970.

An auxiliary strip plaza, BERKSHIRE MALL WEST, was located northwest of the mall proper. Built in stages, its first tenant -an Acme supermarket- opened November 7, 1972. The mini-complex was completed with the dedication of the Movies 1, 2, 3 multiplex in the spring of 1975. BERKSHIRE MALL had no regional-class rival until the completion of FAIRGROUNDS SQUARE MALL {3.1 miles northeast, in Berks County} in 1981.

A small-scale interior renovation was given to BERKSHIRE MALL, with the installation of a 10-bay Food Court in the 2nd level / Lamp Post Lane area. This new culinary complex was dedicated December 7, 1989.

Anchor rebrandings at BERKSHIRE MALL had commenced in early 1976, when Lit Brothers became a Pottstown, Pennsylvania-based Pomeroy's. York, Pennsylvania-based The Bon Ton acquired the Pomeroy's chain in October 1987. In August 1989, stores began to operate as The Bon Ton / Pomeroy's...with the full fledged change to The Bon Ton brand occurring August 14, 1990.

"Wanamaker's" was rebranded as an Arlington, Virginia-based Hecht's in November 1995 and as a Philadelphia-based Strawbridge's in July 1996. The store received the Reading-based Boscov's brand on August 11, 2002. BERKSHIRE MALL changed hands in July 2002, with its new owner being Wilmington, Delaware-based Allied Retail Properties.

Sources: / Article posted by "Caldor"
The Reading Eagle

The graphics and renderings from The Reading Eagle illustrate a key moment in the mall's history that is described in the article. The images are of lower resolution than the originals (copies made would be of inferior quality). The images are not replaceable with free-use or public-domain images. The use of the images does not limit the copyright owners' rights to distribute the images in any way. The images are being used for non-profit, informational purposes only and their use is not believed to detract from the original images in any way.


Pseudo3D said...

BERKSHIRE MALL isn't my favorite mall of the bunch: it looks dated. Dated isn't bad, but it's also bland and ugly. Still though, the mention of "Lamp Post Lane" is another to add to my list of MWAMs (Mall-Within-A-Mall). Too bad they removed it...

The Curator said...

I like things that are "dated"....hee hee (else I sure wouldn't be investing so much time and energy into this).

I've never been anywhere near this mall....but, frankly, I think I like it. It is refreshing that the original -early '70s- interiors have been left THE HECK alone (see my very opinionated comment about "gaudy-glitzy '80s-style makeovers).

I mean...if all such "dated" things are smeared over with new (as just about all have been) there is nada left to show what the "mall style du jour" 1971..or whenever.

I hope that Allied R. Properties leaves this one AS IS...for posterity. There are more than enough "new age" style malls around. Let us "old timers" at least be able to keep this one...hee hee.

Being around in the early '70s...a world-aware teenager, even, BERKSHIRE MALL looks to have been much more elaborately decorated (interior-wise) than the mall that I frequented A LOT between 1969 and 1972...the DAYTON MALL.

That one was HUGE...granted that...but it seems like Mr. DeBartolo just threw the thing up with nothing in the way of interior embelishments. It was very spartan, as I recall.

BERKSHIRE, which was finished at exactly the same time, appears nicer...if this is believable.

Oh cannot look at photos of the DAYTON MALL as it is now and see how it used to be back in "the days"....for it has been "smeared over with new" several times since it opened.


Pseudo3D said...

I would be very, very sad if BERKSHIRE MALL is the only example of a 70s mall. Like I said, dated in and of itself is not bad. But I think BERKSHIRE MALL is one of the worst examples of "retro". I have seen good examples: my local mall has a Macy's (Foley's) has lovely parquet floors unchanged since 1982...

The Curator said...

I surely is one of the few examples.

I guess there are others, but they might be pretty well on the skids and not maintained as well as this one.

I reckon that something from the 1980s must now be considered "retro" that decade is now 20 years ago (time flies).


Anonymous said...

While some may consider the mall to be dated, I find the mall to be very well maintained. So what if the style is an older style. It doesn't matter if it is well maintained and in great shape. The only real issue with the mall is the destruction from the hail storm last year. None of the sky lights have been replaced yet, so it appears rather dark dreary and a bit untidy. I am assuming that the necessary repairs will happen at some point since there are utility lights that look very temporary.

The Curator said...

As I said, to me, dated is a good thing. It's nice that BERKSHIRE has retained its early '70s look and not smeared it all over with new...

Tapes1982 said...

Does anyone have photographs of the center court fountain before it was covered up?