The Penn View Motel, located on the block between 2nd and 3rd Streets on Penn Avenue in West Reading, was part of a chain of nine motels called Host Ways Motel. This highly recognizable landmark was clearly visible from the West-Shore By-Pass and many parts of the city.
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Because it sat on a promontory, 250 Penn Ave. was the ideal location for a structure designed to attract public notice. It was for this reason that George J. Eckert (1827-1900), manufacturer of fire brick in Reading, built his imposing Victorian mansion on the site which, in its day, was as familiar to folks as the Penn View Motel had been.
Below: Eckert Mansion, West Reading.
George Eckert built the place as a suburban mansion in 1876. In its heyday, it had 22 charming rooms, a fine garden, vineyard, and all kinds of choice fruit. Eckert was born in Lebanon County, graduated from Marshall College, practiced law locally from 1855 to 1865, and was a particularly successful manufacturer of fire brick. Miss Ella and R. Ressley Eckert were the last Eckerts to reside in the mansion; they moved to 460 Chestnut Street, West Reading, in 1920. After the State Police vacated the premises, it became an apartment house which it remained until razed in July 1964 to make way for the Penn View Motel.
The Penn View Motel was built in 1965. Over the years the blue-pyramid Penn View had deteriorated into a crime-plagued eyesore.
On August 21 2006, the motel closed, after having been taken by eminent domain by the Berks County Redevelopment Authority. Because of the nature of its transient and resident clientele, and the crime-inducing activity there, the blighted 58-room establishment was much maligned by locals and law enforcement. The 2.14-acre site was part of the county’s Penn Avenue Redevelopment Area.
The motel’s last tenant checked in about 2 a.m. on Monday, August 21, 2006. When the man left later that morning, Barry Alan, who operated the motel for most of its 40-years, refunded the $55 motel bill and gave him a bottle of champagne.
There was considerable agitation on the part of borough officials to shut down the enterprise. After closing, demolition was not long delayed. Demolition began in late 2006 and completed in 2007.
Initial plans for redevelopment called for a combination residential and retail development, but officials had trouble marketing that idea.
Candlewood Suites came forward with a proposal to build a hotel instead.
Many in West Reading didn’t like the idea of another hotel, but borough officials made peace with the situation.
Construction on the $6.5 million 73-unit Candlewood Suites long-stay hotel began around April 2008 and was completed in 2009.