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

Plans were announced for a prospective Greater Reading shopping center in November 1967. The complex would be built on a 70 acre tract, located 2 miles west of downtown Reading. The site was situated in Berks County's Borough of Wyomissing.

Construction commenced on the BERKSHIRE MALL project November 22, 1968. The 25 million dollar retail center was developed by the Allentown-based Goodman Company and, when completed, encompassed 890,000 leasable square feet.

The name of the shopping hub was derived from the source name of Berks County. "Berks" is an abbreviation of the original Berskshire County in Great Britain. Although BERKSHIRE MALL was named after Britain's Berkshire, it is not pronounced as it would be in the United Kingdom. There, it would be pronounced "bark-sheer".

Anyway, the first tenants at BERKSHIRE MALL 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 a 3-level (183,800 square foot), Philadelphia-based John Wanamaker. This store made its debut on August 10, 1970. By April 1971, the full complement of seventy-six stores and services were in operation, 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.

Other stores and services in the original BERKSHIRE MALL included Lerner Shops, Whitner's, Waldenbooks, Wrangler Wroost, Thom McAn Shoes and a (27,000 square foot) F.W. Woolworth 5 & 10. A single-screen cinema, the Fabian Berkshire Mall Theatre, showed its first feature August 25, 1970. The venue would be in operation until 1983.

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.

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 interior renovation was given to BERKSHIRE MALL in the late 1980s. The Lamp Post Lane section was gutted and rebuilt as the 10-bay Terrace Cafe Food Court. 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. The change to the full-fledged The Bon Ton brand took place on August 14, 1990.

John Wanamaker 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. Meanwhile, BERKSHIRE MALL had changed hands in July 2002. Its new owner was Wilmington, Delaware-based Allied Retail Properties.

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


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