While visiting family in Pennsylvania for the holidays, we decided to make a spontaneous visit up to the Pagoda while running some errands. The Pagoda is a symbol of Reading, PA. Pronounced Red-ding, the city is known by most people because of the outlet shopping and the railroad on your Monopoly board at home, Reading Railroad. I grew up in this area and haven’t been to the Pagoda since I was a kid. It is only a 5 min drive through the city and up Mt. Penn so we figured why not!
The Pagoda was commissioned in 1906 by William A. Witman, Sr. to cover his stone quarry at a cost of $50,000. The Pagoda was originally supposed to be a luxury hotel but due to the denial of the liquor license and lack of accessible roadways he never opened it and sold it and the 10 acres of land to local businessman Jonathon Mould and his wife in 1910. The following year Mould donated it to the city and the Pagoda was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.
Though there is no Asian history or connection to Reading, legend says that Witman was inspired by a postcard. The bell in the top floor was actually cast in Japan in 1739 and used to be located in a Buddhist Temple but was shipped here in 1907 before the temple was destroyed. At 7 stories high and 620 feet above the City of Reading it will take you 87 steps to reach the top where you can see the bell and a scenic view.
It was closed when we visited but you still get to see a beautiful view you just can’t climb to the top. That is the chance you take with spontaneity I guess.
Notice anything odd in the architecture? I didn’t notice it at first but after research, I found out that this is the only pagoda in the world with a fireplace and a chimney. Apparently the architecture is more local then fitting to a true pagoda.
Open Saturdays and Sundays from noon – 4:00 PM, except Holidays. Admission is free but they ask for a small donation of $1 per person to go to the top floor observation area. I also found out that they even sell Cho-Cho’s in the snack area! Here is my post about them if you don’t know what they are.
Don’t let the limited hours let you miss your chance to visit if you are in the area. The drive is so short and the view is wonderful, even with overcast skies.
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