The Mohnton Band Auditorium

The article originally appeared in a publication commemorating Mohnton's 75th anniversary in 1982.

Augustus Anderson, a native of Boyertown, purchased the hotel in the center of Mohnsville from John Grimes around the turn of the century. He became an important leader in the community. Mr. Anderson served as a County Commissioner from 1909 to 1911. He was the only person from Mohnton to serve as a County Commissioner to date. In 1907, when the Mohnton Borough received its charter, he was elected as president of the first Council. Old times will tell you that he ran a well-disciplined hotel. No ladies were allowed in the bar-room. Minors under 21 years of age were refused alcoholic beverages, and if a customer became visibly intoxicated he would be refused more intoxicating drinks. In spite of the fact that Mohnton was considered a very religious town, he was respected for the manner in which he ran his hotel.

Around 1906, he decided the need was apparent for a building to house different community activities. So he built the Auditorium. He built it directly across from the trolley station. Certainly a wise move, especially in those days when most people used the trolleys to leave Mohnton either to go to Reading or Adamstown. This auditorium served as the center of community activities for many years.

Around 1912, a band was organized in Mohnton. Howard Hartman, a native of Mohnton who had been the leader of the Gouglersville Band, decided to form the new band. He brought with him quite a few members of the Gouglersville Band combined with new members from Mohnton, the band was an immediate success. Shortly thereafter a deal was struck between Mr. Anderson and the band for the band to purchase the auditorium. The band owned and operated the auditorium until it lost the building by default during the depression. While the band was in existence it was an important part of the community playing at many picnics, festivals, and parades.

Every New Years Day the band would walk around playing in different parts of the town and holding a collection to help pay its bills. When armistice day arrived in 1919, ending World War I, the band paraded around town playing music suitable for the occasion. At least three of its members graduated to the Ringgold Band of Reading, then the top band in this area, namely Andrew Fisher, Leroy Werner, and Harry Peters.

The auditorium was also a suitable place to hold band practice. The band would average about 25 members. When Howard Hartman moved to Shillington, Homer Landis from Wernersville took over as leader, serving for quite a few years. There are at least two former band members with us today, Mr. Luther Mohn and Mr. Melvin Slichter, both cornet players.

The auditorium was rented to the high school for many activities such as commencement exercises, plays and basketball games. Other groups, such as lodges, held plays in this hall. The band itself had inside fairs and dances. The Mohnton Poultry show would hold a poultry show for a week every year on Thanksgiving week. Some of the officers of the poultry show were Howard Hartman, John G.'Werner, and George Hatt.

Winfield Werner ran an annual Ford T Automobile show there for quite a few years. The hall also served as the Mohnton picture theatre for the community for quite a few years. Samuel Werner hired the hall to promote a semi-professional basketball team around 1920. Cannon Miller, whose father ran the trolley station around 1930, also promoted a semi-professional basketball team there. Mohnton had quite a few citizens play on basketball teams that played their home games in this hall.

At one time the auditorium was used as a market house.

One of the most important events that took place at the auditorium was back in the spring of 1917 when Company I, a group of local soldiers, returned from Mexico, where they had been to help quell the Pancho Villa uprising. They already had their papers to shortly leave for New York in preparation to proceed to France to take part in World War I with Germany. Dr. Martin Miller was the toastmaster and different pep talks and songs were sung to rally the town and the boys on their mission. The hall was filled for this occasion. Two of those Company I members are living today, William (Hanky) Kline and William (Bill) Totheroe. Other members were Clayton Hoaster, Reuben Hoaster, Howard Hoaster, Alvin (Spitty) Epier (the only member to be killed in action), Clarence Epier, William Long, John Long, Charles Eckenroth, Adam Behm, William Wenger, and George Good.

When the Mohnton school board built a combination auditorium and gymnasium around 1931 it caused the band auditorium to lose most of its revenue plus the depression then in existence. The band defaulted on its payments, and Mr. Walter Griffith took over.

The Sunday School Orchestra from Zions Church purchased the building from Mr. Griffith. After a few years Mr. Wm. (Petey) Groff, a member of the orchestra, took over. He ran a box factory there for a few years. The youth from Mohnton rented the auditorium on occasion to hold juke box dances from Mr. Groff. Later the Reamstown Hosiery Co. purchased the building. Other owners were the Liberty Hosiery Co. and Wm. G. Leininger. It is now owned by the Mast Engineering Co., who use it for storage purposes. Since the high school building, including the gymnasium and auditorium, were torn down in 1977, Mohnton really does not have a place suitable for social activities today.

Mohnton Auditorium


Mohnton Auditorium Stage



  Images from the archives of Berks County historian George M. Meiser IX

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