Pagoda Tour

The William Penn Memorial Tower is a record of the past.



Another chapter of FOOTPRINTS ON THE MOUNTAIN by Corrie Crupi, relates how the William Penn Memorial Tower came in to being.  The book is an interesting one, principally about the Pagoda and surrounding points of interest in the Reading, PA area.

On Skyline Drive, a short drive from the Pagoda on Mount Penn, sits the “Tower,” built in 1939 for fire observation. Designed and constructed by Grover Cleveland Freeman it became part of the WPA or Public Works Project, after the Great Depression. It was an attempt to get America working again and the stone used in its construction was from the nearby quarry at the Pagoda site. In fact, the stone walls lining the Skyline Drive were made of that same quarry stone.

The tower stood some 120 feet tall and it was said that on a clear day reflection could be seen from buildings in Philadelphia.  A colorful  Moravian tile that is patterned after the William Penn family coat of arms, graces the front of the building.

Because of crumbling stairways and other abuses of time, the tower was restored in 1999. Visiting, and the opportunity to see the amazing scenery,are on pre-selected weekends.  It is well worth the effort to make the climb to the top to see the panoramic view from all sides.

We can cherish our history and learn from it.



The Pagoda

The Pagoda in Reading, PA is detailed in the book FOOTPRINTS ON THE MOUNTAIN by Corrie Crupi. It is an historical account, including pictures, of the area.


Recently I read a beautifully written book about the Reading Pagoda that my grandson had purchased on a recent trip to that PA city.

The book is entitled FOOTPRINTS ON THE MOUNTAIN by Corrie Crupi. It details the history of the now historical Pagoda and the surrounding area. It tells how the Pagoda came to be in Reading, PA.

Reading it was like reliving my past. At times it took my breath away. I grew up in Reading, in the shadow of the Pagoda, often taking the trails mentioned in the book. I remember hiking up the half rotted wooden steps from City Park to the Pagoda.  It was no easy climb. but well worth the effort, for what lay at the top of the mountain was an amazing discovery, THE PAGODA.

So many of the names of places came instantly back to me. I had enjoyed campfire outings at Egleman’s Park where Hessian prisoners had once been housed during the Revolutionary War. I often played tennis with my high school friends near Pendora Park, and I recall picking huckleberries on Neversink Mountain. Oh, the memories that the reading of that book evoked.

The Pagoda was constructed to hide the eyesore stone quarry that defaced Mount Penn. It was the hope of builder, William Witman, to replace it with a luxury hotel. When his application for a liquor license failed, he ‘gifted ‘ it to the city of Reading. The upkeep of the Pagoda has been constant challenge for the city and PAGODA-SKYLINE, INC.  Over the years it has seen many changes including added lighting, windows on the once open top floor, and a gift shop for the tourist attraction and others.

Making frequent ‘hikes up the mountain, on the road instead of the steps, I could never understand why there was no clapper in the large bell on the seventh floor of the pagoda. I have since learned it is a gong, not a bell. It was brought to life when a visiting official from Japan, where the gong had originally been housed in a Buddhist temple, brought a wooden mallet and performed a ceremony on behalf of the people of Reading and Hanno, Japan.  The mallet produced the sounds it was made for. The ceremony added a tonal conclusion to its history.

The book is a fascinating read. It is filled with great pictures, considering the times. It is well worth the effort to see the PAGODA and other historic sites if you live in or are visiting in the beautiful state of Pennsylvania.

The book is entitled FOOTPRINTS ON THE MOUNTAIN by Corrie Crupi. It ia published by R-E -P Commercial Printing, 340 Court Street, Reading, PA 19603.