Muhlenberg Brothers

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Thomas A. Willson & Company (1946), Reading, Pennsylvania. Now GoggleWorks Center for the Arts.

Muhlenberg Brothers was one of the dominant architecture/engineering firms in Reading, Pennsylvania during the first half of the 20th century.


It was established in 1892 by Charles Henry Muhlenberg IV (1870–1960), who graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and apprenticed under the architect Frank Furness.[1] His brother, Frederick Hunter Muhlenberg II (1865–1933), attended both Lafayette College and MIT. The founder's son, Charles Henry Muhlenberg V (1899–1985), attended the University of Wisconsin and MIT, and joined the firm in 1923. Frederick Hunter Muhlenberg II left the firm in the mid 1920s to go into partnership with his nephew, Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg II, operating as Muhlenberg & Muhlenberg.

Muhlenberg Brothers designed both residential and commercial works, and large projects such as office buildings, churches and factories. Among the commissions were a vaudeville theater, a number of public school buildings, and much of the campus of Albright College. G. Russell Steininger, landscape architect, was a principal in the firm by 1929. Its main offices were located at 113-A South Fourth Street in Reading. It established a branch office in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, and one in St. Petersburg, Florida in the 1920s.[2] By 1937, Frederick H. Muhlenberg II had died, Charles H. Muhlenberg IV was listed as a consultant, G. Russell Steininger was no longer part of the firm, and Charles H. Muhlenberg V and Frederick R. Shenk were the principals.[3] The firm continued until about 1965, when Shenk formed Frederick R. Shenk & Lee V. Seibert.[4]

The Historical Society of Berks County owns two portfolios of photographs of Muhlenberg Brothers buildings, from 1929 and 1937, along with hundreds of blueprints from the firm.

A number of the firm's works are listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.[5]

Selected works[edit]


  • W. W. Kline House (1905–07), 200 Wilson Street, West Lawn, Pennsylvania. Featured in The Architectural Review, Volume 14 (1907), pp. 84–85.[6]
  • Frederick H. Muhlenberg II House (1907), 1020 Centre Avenue, Reading, Pennsylvania. The architect's own house.[7]
  • Alterations to Harbster House (c. 1910), 742 Centre Avenue, Reading, Pennsylvania. Frank Furness designed the house (c. 1886).[8] Charles H. Muhlenberg IV may have worked on the original house while in Furness's office.
  • Charles H. Muhlenberg IV House (1926), 1221 Garfield Avenue, Wyomissing, Pennsylvania. The architect's own house.
  • John M. Frame House (1927), 901 N. Third Street, Reading, Pennsylvania.[9] Designed by Frederick H. Muhlenberg II.


  • Rectory (1893) and Parish Hall (), St. Paul's Roman Catholic Church, 151 N. Ninth Street, Reading, Pennsylvania.[10]
  • Holy Spirit Lutheran Church (1922), Fourth & Windsor Streets, Reading, Pennsylvania.[11]
  • First Church of Christ Scientist (1925), Centre Avenue & Greenwich Street, Reading, Pennsylvania.
  • First Presbyterian Church (), 200 North Ninth Street, Ashland, Pennsylvania. Now First United Methodist Presbyterian Church.[12]
  • Immanuel United Church of Christ (1955–59), 99 S. Waverly Street, Shillington, Pennsylvania.[13]

Schools and cultural institutions[edit]

Other buildings[edit]

  • Daniel F. Ancona Building (c. 1899), 604 North Fifth Street, Reading, Pennsylvania.
  • Red Men Hall (1900), 831-33 Walnut Street, Reading, Pennsylvania. NRHP-listed.[5]
  • Farmers National Bank (1909), Penn Street, Reading, Pennsylvania.
  • Hippodrome Theatre (1910, demolished 1970s), 751-57 Penn Street, Reading, Pennsylvania.[28] Built as a vaudeville house, it was later expanded into a 1,228-seat movie theater.
  • Reading Armory Drill Hall (1910–11), Rose & Walnut Streets, Reading, Pennsylvania.
  • Alterations to Reading Hospital (1910–13), Front & Spring Streets, Reading, Pennsylvania.[29]
  • C. K. Whitner Department Store (1911), 438-44 Penn Street, Reading, Pennsylvania.[30]
  • Carpenter Steel Company, Annealing Building (1915), River Road & Exeter Street, Reading, Pennsylvania.[31]
  • Bank of Hamburg Savings & Trust Co. (1923), 52-54 South Fourth Street, Hamburg, Pennsylvania. Part of Hamburg Historic District.
  • Masonic Building (1925), 4 South Second Street, Pottsville, Pennsylvania.[32][33]
  • City Bank and Trust Company (1937–40, demolished), 538 Penn Street, Reading, Pennsylvania.
  • Thomas A. Willson & Company, Building 2 (1946), 201 Washington Street, Reading, Pennsylvania.[34] NRHP-listed.[5] Now GoggleWorks Center for the Arts.


  1. ^ Charles H. Muhlenberg obituary from The Reading Eagle, December 12, 1960.
  2. ^ "Muhlenberg Bros. Registered Architects," The Palm Beach Post, December 4, 1925, p. B-4.
  3. ^ Selections from the Work of Muhlenberg Brothers, Registered Architects (New York, Architectural Catalog Co., 1937).
  4. ^ "Frederick R. Shenk & Lee V. Seibert". The American Institute of Architects. Retrieved 10 Jul 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09. 
  6. ^ Kline house from The Architectural Review.
  7. ^ "To Erect a Handsome Home on Centre Avenue". Reading Eagle. 17 Mar 1907. 
  8. ^ George E. Thomas, et al., Frank Furness: The Complete Works (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, revised edition 1996), p. 258.
  9. ^ Frame House from Centre Park Historic District.
  10. ^ St. Paul's R. C. Church from GoReadingBerks.
  11. ^ Holy Spirit Lutheran Church
  12. ^ First United Methodist Presbyterian Church
  13. ^ Immanuel History Timeline from Immanuel United Church of Christ.
  14. ^ Reading YWCA from eBay.
  15. ^ McAdoo High School
  16. ^ Tyson-Schoener School
  17. ^ About Berks County Historical Society.
  18. ^ 13th & Union Elementary School
  19. ^ Blue Mountain Elementary School Cressona
  20. ^ Wyomissing Public Library History.
  21. ^ History from Jeanes Library.
  22. ^ About Us from Jeanes Library.
  23. ^ St. Clair High School from Saint Clair Then and Now.
  24. ^ Muhlenberg School District History.
  25. ^ Teel Hall from Historic College Architecture Project.
  26. ^ Hall of Science from Historic College Architecture.
  27. ^ Albright College Chapel from Historic College Architecture Project.
  28. ^ Reading Hippodrome from Cinema Treasures.
  29. ^ Sweet's Catalogue of Buildings Construction (1913), p. 459.
  30. ^ Whitner's from GoReadingBerks.
  31. ^ Carpenter Steel Mill from Google.
  32. ^ Pottsville Masonic Building from Seth Gaines via Flickr.
  33. ^ "Pottsville Masons to erect 5-story temple, Reading men the architects," The Reading Eagle, March 22, 1925.[1]
  34. ^ Shelby Weaver Splain & Doug Scott, Thomas A. Willson & Company, NRHP Registration Form (2006), p. 5:


  • Selections from the Work of Muhlenberg Brothers, Registered Architects, Landscaping (New York: Architectural Catalog Co., 1929).
  • Selections from the Work of Muhlenberg Brothers, Registered Architects (New York, Architectural Catalog Co., 1937).
  • Architecture & Design Magazine, 5 (August 1941): entire issue devoted to the work of Muhlenberg Brothers.

External links[edit]