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Birdsboro in Berks County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

The Mercantile

 
 
The Mercantile Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), November 20, 2020
1. The Mercantile Marker
Inscription.  
By the early 1870s, the company store at the Bird Mansion outgrew its allotted space. To solve the problem, the Brooke interest, which had taken over the local iron business, authorized the construction of a larger facility on the southwest corner of Mill and Main Streets. The new structure, known as the Mercantile, was ready for occupancy in 1876. The original building consisted of two stories. Disaster struck on opening day, as fire swept through the first floor.

Upon rebuilding, the Brookes decided to add a third floor to the structure, relocated the company business to a site near the canal locks on Main Street, and lease the rebuilt first floor retail area to George W. Hain, a Civil War veteran. Hain maintained a profitable general store and grocery on location. The new proprietor was politically active and financially involved in the development of properties on the south side of East Main Street, near the Hay Creek Bridge. In 1873, Hain was the first elected burgess of the community. In 1888, the First National Bank of Birdsboro opened an office in the southern half of the Mercantile. A new bank building was built adjacent
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to it on 1901. It remained there until 1967, when it moved back to the Mercantile. Through a series of mergers, the bank became M&T Bank in 2001.

At the turn of the century, the retail business that Hain had established was sold to the Miller brothers. It later became affiliated with the American Stores, Inc. That enterprise closed in 1958. Over the years, the Mercantile housed many other businesses, included the Conestoga Telephone Exchange, circa 1904, and a meeting hall for the Birdsboro Masonic Lodge (est. 1870). In the early 1960s, Mirawall, a division of Birdsboro Steel, occupied the building.

American Stores, Inc. — In 1915, the local branch of the American Stores, Inc., forerunner of Acme Markets, took over the large grocery of the Miller brothers. The business operated under a new concept in the retail food marketing industry. Each store was supervised by a corporate center, offering competitive prices through bulk purchases, combined with extensive advertising and distribution. Clerks did not handle final payment of grocery orders. Instead an adding machine tape of the total was presented to customers who, in turn, handed it to a cashier sitting in a little booth at the store's exit for final transaction. The stores were easily identified by the traditional black and yellow façade.
 
Erected by
The Mercantile Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), November 20, 2020
2. The Mercantile Marker
Birdsboro Rotary Club.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Industry & Commerce. In addition, it is included in the Rotary International series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1876.
 
Location. 40° 15.964′ N, 75° 48.424′ W. Marker is in Birdsboro, Pennsylvania, in Berks County. Marker is on North Mill Street just south of East Main Street (Pennsylvania Route 345/724), on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 248 N Mill St, Birdsboro PA 19508, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Birdsboro World War I Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker); Birdsboro (within shouting distance of this marker); Bird Mansion (within shouting distance of this marker); Birdsboro Trailhead (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Neighborhoods (about 500 feet away); American Legion Post 626 Veterans Memorial (approx. 0.2 miles away); The E. & G. Brooke Iron Company World War II Memorial (approx. 0.2 miles away); Birdsboro Steel (approx. 0.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Birdsboro.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on November 21, 2020. It was originally submitted on November 21, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 175 times since then and 54 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on November 21, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.

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Jul. 12, 2024