Location of the Mount Penn Amphitheater

2013-08-06
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Follow up to article dated 8/4/2013 titled "The Lost Mount Penn Amphitheater."

The United Press International (UPI), a once-major international news agency, whose newswires, photo, news film and audio services provided news material to thousands of newspapers, magazines and radio and television stations for most of the twentieth century, reported the following on July 5, 1932:

"READING, PA, MAY BUILD AMPHITHEATER - Stone Quarry 150 Feet Deep Considered as Site -

Civic organization here propose that a large natural amphitheater be laid out on the site of the former quarry facing the city on Mt. Penn.

The quarry, now owned by the city, forms an opening 800 feet long and about 150 feet deep, on the slope of the mountain. It is termed a "blot" on the landscape and a detriment to civic beauty.

Plans of the organization for improvements of the site would be included in the city's $200,000 relief program to aid the unemployed, if the city council approves the project.

It is proposed that the amphitheater be arranged to hold 15,000 persons and that the inner bowl be arranged for pageants, athletic contests, outdoor plays and city demonstrations."

A Reading Eagle article dated March 28, 1933 contained the same location for the amphitheater reported by the United Press.

The true location of the amphitheater was finally made known in a Reading Eagle article July 10, 1976 which read: "The theater, of stone and mason work, is located on List Road, a block behind present day Camp Lily (PDF document - 1.08 MB)."

Vicinity of amphitheater

In the same article City Councilman Harold L. Brown announced that the amphitheater built on Mt. Penn by the Works Progress Administration during the 1930's may be rebuilt for public use. The councilman toured the unused amphitheater with Alan Roth, chairman of the Mt. Penn Conservancy, and Robert Wolfe, superintendent of parks and public property for the city. Mr. Brown said it would be renamed "Philadelphious," the Greek word meaning "brotherhood."

Around August 1976 a group of volunteers led by the Mt. Penn Conservancy began clearing the brush in preparation for reopening the amphitheater. City Councilman Harold L. Brown said the amphitheater would be operated by the city recreation department for public and nonprofit activities such as plays and concerts.

In a June 4, 1977 Reading Eagle article titled "Biking, Cart Plan Draws Opposition," Alan D. Roth, president of the year-old Mt. Penn Conservancy, contended that city park laws were not being enforced and said his group, had been forced to abandon the project due to bikers. According to city parks laws, no motor vehicles other than city-owned vehicles were permitted on the mountain park.

City Councilman Douglas Palm, head of the parks department, proposed that an archery range near the amphitheater site be set aside for motorbike and go-cart enthusiasts after a group called the Off Road Riders protested a proposed ordinance which would have banned motorized vehicles from all city-owned land.

Despite fund-raising efforts by the the Pagoda-Skyline, Inc., and cleaning efforts by the Mt. Penn Conservancy the process of restoring the amphitheater was never accomplished.

 

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