Saturday, July 17, 2010

William Penn Memorial Fire Tower

About a mile from the famed Pagoda in Reading, Pennsylvania lies an imposing tower built from stone and steel. The tower seems very ominous, especially if you just visited the much more colorful Pagoda.

The tower was originally built in 1939 to serve as a post for the firemen. Being situated at the top of Mt. Penn, the firefighters were able to keep an eye on essentially the entire county of Berks. The tower is constructed out of all fireproof materials and was built on the foundation of what was once the Tower Hotel, which operated between 1889-1923. The tower stands at 120 feet high and sits more than a thousand feet above the Schuylkill river. From the top of the tower there is a 60 mile panoramic view. The tower discontinued use in 1988 due to the suburban sprawl of the county which made it more difficult to track the lower lying areas of the county. Today the tower is owned by Reading city and is slowly decaying away, though there is a non-profit group hoping to restore the tower and re-open it as a tourist attraction.