When one thinks of a pagoda, they normally picture the pagoda to be in a place like Japan or China. However, one of Reading, Pennsylvania's most famous landmarks is also a pagoda. Built on a hillside at the south end of Skyline Drive on scenic Mount Penn, the Pagoda offers a wonderful historic and scenic experience.
Constructed in 1906 by William Witman, Sr. with a cost of $50,000 by William A. Witman, Sr., the Pagoda was completed in 1908. The pagoda was orginally built to be a luxury resort atop Mount Penn, but due to a bank foreclosure and the denial of a liquor license, Witman never opened the Pagoda. By 1910 the Pagoda and the surrounding property were sold to a local business owner. In 1911, the Pagoda was sold to the City of Reading for the grand sum of $1.
The Pagoda stands 7 stories high, 28 feet wide, 50 feet long, situated 620 feet above Reading at 866 feet above sea level. There are 60 tons of tiles and terra cotta on the pagoda with a total of 87 steps from the bottom to the top. The Pagoda in Reading is the only pagoda in the world with a fireplace and chimney, which relates to the pagoda's original intended use as a luxury resort. The pagoda's bell on the 7th floor was cast in Japan in 1739. The bell was purchased by Witman in 1906 and shipped via the Suez Canal to New York Harbor, and arrived in Reading on May 5, 1907.
Before the advent of radio broadcasting, lights from the Pagoda flashed as signals to the people of Reading and Morse Code was used to direct emergency services, promote events and give local sports news. The Code used was based on lights, with a white light was a dash and a red light was a dot. Lights from the Pagoda also flash every Christmas Eve at 9pm to let everyone know that Santa Claus and his reindeer are on their way. The Pagoda is also where Reading's Pagoda Patty announces every Groundhog Day whether to expect an early spring or six more weeks of winter.
The Pagoda is open weekend afternoons with a small gift shop and café, plus you have the opportunity to walk through the Pagoda. The nearby grounds are also open to view the Pagoda and the scenic views of Reading and its countryside.
|The Reading Pagoda, draped in a blanket of fresh snow.|
|A scenic view of Reading, Pennsylvania.|
|The Pagoda's chimney.|
|View of the pagoda from below.|
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