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Park School, Reading, PA

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The Park School was formerly located at the intersection of Perkiomen Avenue with 12th and Franklin Streets. The building was constructed in 1899 and cost about $25,000. The school was built on the site of the Bechtel House which was razed in 1898. In the early 1800s, the Bechtel House was known as Tyson's Tavern.

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    Bechtel House, northwest comer of Franklin and Perkiomen Ave. Razed in 1898.

The Park school was a six-room building. It was a Gothic design, built of brick, Indiana limestone and Hummelstown brown stone. The arch at the main entrance on Perkiomen Ave. was supported by two pillars. There were four rooms in the front and two in the rear. A wide hall extended from the Perkiomen Ave. entrance through to the rear where two stairways branched off going to the second floor. There were cloak rooms for each of the six rooms. A flag stone pavement extended along the three sides.

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The school was presented with a flag at a flag raising ceremony on October 2, 1899. As soon as the school had been dismissed for the day, the janitor and several residents of the Third ward began the work of decorating for the ceremony. At every window were crossed American flags and Uncle Sam lanterns. At the southeast corner a stand had been erected for the speakers.

Prior to the ceremony 25 organizations and at least a dozen bands and drum corps participated in a parade. Long before the time set for the parade to move crowds of people flocked to Penn street and the vicinity of the Park school. The crowd steadily increased until the street in front of the building was entirely too small to hold it, and then it surged up into the City Park and occupied a large portion of Hill Road.

It was 8 p.m. when the procession moved over the route. The route of the parade was down Penn from Fifth to Second, countermarch to Thirteenth and Perkiomen Avenue and thence to the Park school. Along Penn street during the parade the crowds lined the sidewalks and that portion of the street not occupied by the steady columns of uniformed marchers. All along the parade route fire burned, pyrotechnics mounted skyward and shouts of applause filled the air.

The Junior Order of United American Mechanics (Jr. O. U. A. M) donated the flag. In making the presentation speech, Cyrus T. Fox said that it was the motto of the Jr. O. U. A. M. to practice what they preached, and therefore when they claimed that it was the proper thing to instill into the hearts and minds of the children the love of the flag they presented to them that flag in order that it might be a daily reminder for them to grow up to love and revere it. "Therefore," he concluded, "in the name of the patriotic orders of the city of Reading, I present this beautiful American flag, the emblem of the free, to the Reading School Board." As the flag was run up to the top of the staff the assembled multitude cheered it again and again and the color-bearers of the various organizations dipped their colors in salute.

President Hunsicker, of the Board of Control, in accepting the flag, said that in doing so he was acting for the 12,000 children of the public schools and that they were highly delighted to be shown such evidence of genuine patriotism. E. B, Wiegand, Esq., the orator of the evening, made a telling address which was punctuated by cheers and applause. During the course of his remarks he said the life of a nation is like unto an individual, either one of fruitfulness or decay. It was fitting that the Stars and Stripes shall float over every public building in the land. That it shall be the first object to greet the eye at dawn and the last at sunset. Let the children know what it means, what it stands for, and in years to come they will be ever ready to defend it even with their lives.

Because of its very limited playground area, Park school was recommended for abandonment after only 25 years of use. It was closed following completion of the 1935 Amanda E. Stoudt building but stood until the mid-1940s. An automotive service station was built on the site of the school in 1946.

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    Standing, left to right, are Wilbur, Robert, Albert, Harold, and Stanley. Oscar and Margaret sit in the goat-cart. Looming in the background is the rear of Park School, which the children attended.
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    Park School, 1168 Perkiomen Ave., Reading, PA.
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    Former site of Park School, northwest comer of Franklin and Perkiomen Ave.

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