Revisiting Reading’s Architectural Past: St. Joseph Hospital

St. Joseph Hospital was founded in 1873 making it the oldest hospital in Berks County. The original 2-story building was replaced in May 1885 on a 3½ acre site at 12th & Walnut Streets in Reading at a cost of $60,000. An addition to this building was completed in 1895 for $85,000. The architect(s) for these projects is not known to us. However, from 1923 to 1959 our firm was involved with a number of projects for St. Joseph Hospital at the 12th Walnut Streets campus.

Rendering of the proposed addition to St. Joseph's Hospital in 1925

Rendering of the proposed addition to St. Joseph’s Hospital in 1925

For Mr. Muhlenberg’s first project for the hospital he was commissioned by the Board of Trustees in 1923 to design an annex to the hospital which would alleviate the severely congested conditions at the facility. This annex was designed to front North 12th Street, extending east along Walnut Street where it would connect to the present hospital. The addition contained modern surgical facilities on the top floor with the lower floors containing private, semi-private, and small public wards totaling, approximately, 70 beds.

In October 1924 the project was bid and subsequently awarded at a cost of $474,000. The addition, when completed in 1925, made St. Joseph Hospital one of the largest and most modern hospitals in the state.

Photograph of St. Joseph's Hospital

Photograph of St. Joseph’s Hospital

During the course of the next 25 years Mr. Muhlenberg was involved with a variety of renovations and additions at the hospital, including a new wing for the school of nursing, which was completed in 1951.

In September 2007, St. Joseph Hospital moved to a new modern facility at its present location in Bern Township, and donated the 12th & Walnut Streets campus to the Reading School District. The School District eventually demolished the facility to build their Intermediate High School on this site. St. Joseph Hospital’s relocation to Bern Township in 2007 left the city of Reading without a hospital for the first time in 134 years.

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  1. Joseph Webb says:

    Great post. Thanks for the historical information. It was a splendid annex.

  2. MGA says:

    Thank you for your comment, Joseph! We enjoy sharing some treasures from our archives, so I hope you will keep following our posts!

  3. Barbara K says:

    Thanks for writing this – I love reading about the history of buildings.
    Sorry that Reading lost its hospital.

  4. Larry Kohl says:

    Was born at St Joseph in 1951, left Reading in 1970 but am fond of it’s history, love your photos and pictures.

  5. MGA says:

    Thank you, Larry! I’m glad you enjoy them!

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