Couple on North Reading Avenue selling their historic 19th century house

The house sits at the corner of Reading Avenue and Fifth Street, with the victorian tower visible on the left-hand side. It is said to be the first house in Boyertown to have working electricity, and it is for currently for sale.
The house sits at the corner of Reading Avenue and Fifth Street, with the victorian tower visible on the left-hand side. It is said to be the first house in Boyertown to have working electricity, and it is for currently for sale. Harrison Otto— For digital first media
A small dining room with original light fixture, eight foot windows covered with full length levered double paneled wooden shutters, and fireplace
A small dining room with original light fixture, eight foot windows covered with full length levered double paneled wooden shutters, and fireplace Harrison otto— for digital first media

Dave and Judy Larson have lived in their victorian townhouse on the corner of North Reading Avenue and Fifth Street for almost 28 years. However, soon they will be putting the house on the market for the first time in over a century.

103 N. Reading Ave, the first house in Boyertown to have working electricity, is for sale — along with the late 19th century facade.

“The historical value here is just relevant to Boyertown. It is historically accurate to the day of its build, almost everything is exactly the way it was. It has not been restored- it’s been maintained.” said realtor Mary Sugita.

The house was built as a double in 1896 by Adam Shaner and his brother in law O.P. Grimley, who were both bankers. Adam’s son, Charles Shaner, and his wife Harriet moved into the house in 1947. Harriet Shaner received the property after her husband’s death and remained in residence until she died in 1989.

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The house was wired with electric in 1906 by a Mr. Shaffer, who often did work in the Reading area. In 1909 Shaffer moved to Boyertown, and soon 25 other small businesses in town had electricity- including the Boyertown Carriage Works, Erb’s Cigar Factory, and Lefevre’s Department Store.

The Larsons, who knew the Shaner family, then privately bought the house in 1989, and remain the current owners.

Dave Larson, a former teacher and local artist, has painted many pictures and murals of Boyertown. He spends most of his free time working in his art studio on the third floor.

“My primary reason for buying the house was because of the studio on the third floor. It gets 12 hours of sunlight, and you just can’t get that anywhere. That was what attracted me to the house.” said Larson.

The studio sits in the front of the house at the pinnacle of the turret tower, which goes from the basement all the way up to the third story.

The rest of the house is still deeply rooted in an atmosphere of antiquity, complete with original light fixtures, stained glass windows, wooden shutters, and even two fireplaces with hand carved oak mantles and imported English encaustic tile.

While the kitchen was renovated by the Larsons to include new cabinets and appliances, the butler’s pantry still includes an original wooden icebox from the turn of the century, as well as a salt keep, working dumbwaiter, and 10 foot high cabinets.

“The pantry is one of the more important rooms, it’s a working pantry,” said Larson. “Back then when people brought food in, they’d open the windows, and put ice in the icebox. It is still the same icebox that was here then, and is still functioning today.”

There is also a partially working inter phone system with outlets in the master bedroom and maid’s room upstairs.

Upstairs, there are three more bedrooms, including an original bathroom with oak flooring, a claw foot bathtub, marble top sink, and porcelain washbowl.

“The bathroom we kept intact because it had interesting qualities to it,” said Larson.

Another storage room is located on the third floor, and a former maid’s quarters has been turned into a laundry room.

The public is invited to two Open House sessions at 103 N. Reading Ave. on Saturday Feb 18. and Sunday, Feb 19. from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.

For additional photos of the inside of the house, click here.