The Pagoda on Mount Penn
The Pagoda. Framed photograph of the iconic symbol of Berks County, Pennsylvania.
Commissioned in 1906 at a cost of $50,000 by William A. Witman, Sr. to cover his stone quarry, the Pagoda was completed in 1908. It was orginally intended to be a luxury resort atop Mt. Penn, but due to the bank foreclosure and the denial of a liquor license, Witman never opened the Pagoda. By 1910 the Pagoda and surrounding 10 acres were deeded to local business owner, Jonathon Mould and his wife, Julia (Bell). On April 21, 1911 they “sold” the Pagoda to the City of Reading for the sum of $1. Since then the Pagoda has been owned, loved and cared for by the citizens and City of Reading.
It is 7 stories high, 28 feet wide, 50 feet long – standing 620 feet above the City of Reading and 866 feet above sea level.
The walls are 5 feet thick at the base tapering to 2 feet thick at the top of the second floor, from there to the top, they are frame-covered with terra-cotta shingles – there are 60 tons of tiles. The building is anchored to the mountainside the 16 tons of bolts. Inside walls are constructed from concrete plaster, all the trim and stairways are solid oak. Visitors walk a total of 87 steps to the top. It is the only Pagoda in the world with a fireplace and chimney. Before the days of radio broadcasting, lights flashed as signals to the people of Reading. Morse Code was used to direct fireman, promote fundraising campaigns and give the public results of sporting events. The Code was based on the lights – a white light was a dash, while a red light was a dot. The bell on the 7th floor was cast in Japan in 1739 and was purchased by Witman in 1906 and shipped via the Suez Canal to New York Harbor, and arrived in Reading on May 5, 1907 by rail. Fish sculptures on the roof are to protect the Pagoda from fire. Every year at 9pm on Christmas Eve the Pagoda lights flash to let the children know that Santa is on his way.
A photographic memory of an amazing structure.
Framed size: 15″ wide x 20″ high