The South Reading Market at 548 Bingaman (southwest comer of 6th and Bingaman) was one of the city’s most recognized and enduring structures. It was one of a number of “sanitary market houses” erected just before the two Penn Square market buildings closed in 1871. The building was constructed in 1870 by Francis B. Shalters, then owner-editor of the Reading Times.
Below: South Reading Market House.
The 23,000 square-foot building was about a half-block long, a quarter to a half-block wide and 30 to 35 feet high. One section of the building near Sixth and Pine streets was taller and reached close to 60 feet. The iron columns that supported the market’s portico had been salvaged from the East and West Penn Square (“Market Square”) sheds at the time those structures were removed in 1871. The posts originally stood on the site of the rebuilt Penn Square market pavilion, erected in 1846, on what was once Callowhill Street, now Fifth. The rebuilt pavilion replaced the original structure erected in 1766. It served as a place for county farmers to meet and peddle their goods.
Below: Photo of painting depicting the market as originally planned. The clock tower never came to pass.
Below: An impressive architectural detail, one of many that once adorned the building.
South Reading Market operated as a stock company, many stockholders being stand operators. In 1965, Anthony Sedoti, president of the former Reading Import Co., took an active interest in the premises, bought all available stock, and in time devoted much of the building to his thriving importing business. He in turn sold the building in 1974 to Peter Sfameni of Temple, operator of Pete’s Bingo, for use as a bingo hall. Springless Shades Inc. last occupied the 23,000 square-foot building several years ago.
Below: Sedoti’s Reading Import Co.
On Saturday evening, May 14, 2005, flames were seen shooting through the roof of this South Reading landmark. The age and dryness of the wooden interior fed the fire which was all but out of control by the time the fire companies responded to the alarm. The venerable structure, slated to be sold at public auction imminently, was torched by a homeless, jobless person harboring a grudge. Regrettably, the owner of the property had allowed the insurance to expire.
Below: Aftermath of South Reading Market Fire – Touch or Click Images to Enlarge.
Demolition of the fire gutted former South Reading Market House at Sixth and Bingaman streets began Wednesday, June 8, 2005. Thanks to concern on the part of Mayor Tom McMahon, the historic pillars were removed for safe keeping during demolition.
Below: Photo captured in May, 2005 about two weeks before the disastrous fire of the 14th.
Below: Photo captured during the latter stages of demolition and rubble removal.
In November, 2015, the Reading Planning Commission approved final plans for a 9,180-square-foot Family Dollar store with 29 off-street parking spaces at the former site of the South Reading Market.