Revisiting Reading’s Architectural Past: Medical Arts Building

For our next installment in our architectural history series, focusing on the early projects of our firm, I am pleased to say that this building, designed by Mr. Muhlenberg, is still standing at 230 North Fifth Street in Reading Pennsylvania.

Medical Arts Building Rendering 1928

 

 

Built in 1930, the Medical Arts Building was developed and owned by the Reading Medical Arts Building Corporation. The board members of the corporation included our founder, Frederick A. Muhlenberg, who served as President of the Board. The building was constructed at a cost of, approximately, $500,000, and the project created employment for many during the Great Depression.

When completed, the 10-story building contained 55 offices, a pharmacy on the first floor, and a coffee shop located in the basement. The Medical Arts Building was the first building in Reading to have a penthouse space. The penthouse contained a kitchen, lounge and fireplace, and the space served as a club house for the building’s tenants. Another feature of the building, which was not typical for office buildings of the time, had the rest rooms for men and women located on each floor of the building. We can personally attest to this since our present office is located in the 1927-circa Madison Building (restored in 1984) which was originally designed and built for the Metropolitan Edison Company. The toilet rooms in this building are located in the stair tower, with every other landing containing either a men’s or women’s room.

Mr. Muhlenberg eventually moved his architecture practice to the Medical Arts Building where the firm remained until 1972. In 2013, 82 years after the first tenants arrived in January 1931, the Medical Arts Building is still open and occupied.

Medical Arts Building Exterior Photo 1928

 

The exterior of the building today remains unchanged from this early photograph. However, at an unknown period of time, some of the structures located adjacent to the south side of the building were demolished and a parking lot was constructed.

The Medical Arts Building is a wonderful example of the Art Deco architecture of the 1920s and we are proud that it still remains a part of Reading’s skyline.

Check back with us for the next installment in this series. As always, please feel free to leave us a comment or email me at debc@mgarchitects-ltd.com.
 
 
 
 
 

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