History of Reading News - 22-24 North Fifth
The City of Reading has witnessed the appearance and disappearance of numerous newspapers since the origin of the town's existence. The first newspaper appeared in 1789, since then 114 newspapers have been published; this includes weeklies and dailies. The Reading News was established in 1912 but went out of business sometime that same year. Having had such a short life little has been recorded of its history. The Reading News building was built on March 26, 1912. The building was built in the Beaux-Arts style of architecture. The Beaux-Arts style heavily influenced the architecture of the United States in the period from 1880 to 1920. Beaux-Arts architecture depended on sculptural decoration along conservative modern lines, employing French and Italian Baroque and Late Baroque style with an impressionistic finish and realism. The facade of the building was finished with brick and granite.
Sadly, the building was demolished in 1980. There were but few examples of the Beaux Arts style within the confines of the City of Reading. The Reading News building exemplified a quality of masonry craftsmanship on the facade of the structure which is no longer extant.
The building was especially designed for newspaper, completely fireproof, built with steel girders, concrete floors and a terra cotta exterior with limestone trimmings. The first floor was structurally reinforced by extra steel columns in the basement.
The first floor contained business offices and the press room. The press itself was known as a four deck Goss Straightline. This machinery, when it was installed, could be seen from the sidewalk through a large plate glass storefront window. The second floor contained the editorial departments and the third floor mechanical departments.
The first floor facade was composed of two equal arched openings. Within the openings were entrances and storefronts topped by leaden glass transom windows. At the second level the facade was divided into three openings. The end two windows occupied 1/4 of the facade while a center bay window occupied the middle half. The end windows had flat arch lintels. The bay window was three sided with casements at the sides and a plate glass window in the center. Leaded transom windows were above. The third floor was divided into four equal openings. The window openings had low arched lintels. The windows were casement. There was a plate glass opening inside the building in the main foyer where one could observe the printing presses when they were still installed. This plate glass window was on the north side of the foyer and it was approximately eight feet wide. The rear of the building had 20 sash windows in groups of two with the first floor having larger windows, topped by clear leaden glass transoms. The steel staircase was illuminated by a skylight.
The roof was flat with a low slope composed of asphalt slag. The cornice was made of limestone and supported by five stone brackets. The parapet line was topped off by an open stone balustrade centered with a stone carved panel which read "The Reading News." On either side of the building were brick pilasters which reached a few feet above the cornice. These were decorated with a carved silhouette of helmeted figure with pendant grapes. The third floor was of a light yellowish brick while the first and second floors were faced with stone limestone blocks. At the third floor level there was a pent cave or limestone cornice supported by 17 dentils. This part of the building was decorated with two stone fluted pilasters topped by scroll work and with the previously mentioned grape motif. A curious, if not awkward, feature of the building was a low sloping rectangular roof which surmounted the three sided bay win-dow. This roof appeared to be made of concrete. It emanated from the intersection of the underside of the cornice at the third floor level and projected approximately 16 feet past the bay window. The cornice of the bay window roof was ornamented in a style reminiscent of a Japanese tile roof. A first floor cornice completed the tripartite division of the building. This cornice was made of the same stone material as the other two cornices, but protruded along the lines of the bay window. A central, nearly four feet high stone bracket underneath the bay acted as a central focus. Two stone brackets of smaller dimensions were situated on either side of the main bracket.