The Centre Turnpike (now Centre Avenue or Route 61) was completed from Reading to Sunbury, PA in 1809. However, residential expansion to the northwest of downtown Reading was hampered by “the Great Hollow,” a steep ravine which ran from Front and Washington Streets to 5th and Buttonwood.
In the late 1860s, several improvements in the northwestern area of Reading increased development interest. Around 1868, a tunnel was built to divert water from the Great Hollow and the ravine was filled in. In 1884 the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad built the fashionable “outer station” on North 6th Street, immediately north of the Askew Bridge. In that same year, the Reading City Passenger Railway Company established a horse-drawn trolley line which ran up North 6th Street from Penn Street to Robeson Street, continuing west on Robeson to a station house at Charles Evans Cemetery.

During the 1870s, Centre Avenue became a fashionable address for residential development by the wealthy new industrialists of Reading. Many residences featured large, freestanding “country” mansions with handsome carriage houses. By the late 1880s, trolley service had been established on Centre Avenue as far north as Charles Evans Cemetery, and on Windsor Street, connecting the Centre Avenue and North 6th Street lines. These proved to be a stimulus for even more development.

The greatest building boom in the District took place between 1900 and 1910 when more than half of the buildings were constructed. Most homeowners on the major streets held managerial or professional positions in the town. The majority of residents in the more modest homes along Rose Street and Madison Avenue were industrial workers, tradesmen and clerical workers. By 1920, most of the residential development in the Centre Park District had been completed. Buildings constructed after 1920 were primarily large residences, churches or institutional structures.

Organization History

The Centre Park Historic District was established on October 27, 1982. Situated in the northwestern part of the City of Reading, PA, the District is generally located between Centre Avenue to the west, North 5th Street to the east, Charles Evans Cemetery to the north, and the Lebanon Valley Railroad to the south. The name of the District is derived from Centre Park, an attractive focal point for the neighborhood. The Park is situated on the south side of Douglass Street between Centre Avenue and North 4th Street.

Almost entirely residential in character, the Centre Park Historic District is comprised of 840 structures. It features a wide variety of architectural styles and high levels of quality craftsmanship which are evident in even the more modest homes. Most of the residential development occurred between 1895 and 1915 when the trolley service made the neighborhood one of Reading’s first suburbs.

View the organizations chronology.

Organization Founders

Raymond Arndt

Robert Bartmann

Beth & John Bingaman

Colleen (Dietrich) O’Connor

Robert Dietrich

Myrna & Peter Fuchs

Don Harmon

Judy Henry

Jeff Koenigsberg

Cheryl & Robert Large

Michel Lefevre

Peggy & Barry Lloyd

Ruth Martelli

Mike Mullen

Rosemary & Thomas Mullenberg

Jonetta & John Printz

Dan Smith

Gerry Wernicki

Diane Vitalo