History of Sacred Heart School

On July 8, 1917, His Excellency, Archbishop Edmund F. Prendergast of Philadelphia appointed Monsignor George Bornemann's nephew, the Reverend Charles J. Bornemann, as the first pastor of a new parish dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Sacred Heart Church was officially founded to provide for the spiritual needs of those Catholics, primarily of German descent, living west of the Schuylkill River. 

It was almost two years before a two-story church and school building was dedicated on the southwest corner of Eighth and Hill avenues in Wyomissing. In the interim, Bornemann and his parishioners celebrated Mass in the Wyomissing Town Hall at Penn Avenue and Wyomissing Boulevard.

On Sunday, July 7, 1919, a ceremony was held to dedicate the completed two-story combination church and school building. Archbishop Dougherty officiated at the dedication ceremony. He arrived in Reading at 10 a.m. and was met by a committee of clergyman from Reading and vicinity. The Catholic population of the parish at this time was 180 souls.

The church and school building was used for both school and religious purposes. The church occupied the first floor, and a two-room school was on the second floor. To the rear of the classrooms, a small apartment provided living quarters for two Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The first sessions of the school were held early in September of 1919 with an enrollment of approximately 100 pupils.

Since 1919, Sacred Heart has twice outgrown itself despite being subdivided on two occasions.

Around 1925, a dwelling was purchased at 106 South 7th Ave., West Reading as a convent for the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary to leave an apartment they occupied at the rear of the second-floor class-rooms on Hill Avenue.

In 1926, Father Bornemann initiated steps to secure a new site for the parish, due to the increasing industrial growth in the immediate area of the church - school building. On July 21, 1929 operations started on the erection of a two-story combination church and school building on Franklin Street between Seventh Avenue and Lake View drive, in West Reading. The first Mass in the new building was celebrated on Palm Sunday, April 30, 1930 and on Sunday May 4, 1930 dedication services were held at the newly built combination church and school. The new edifice was built at a cost of $175,000 and was erected by the Wyomissing Development Company. It was built of native stone trimmed with Indiana limestone. The building had a chapel, five classrooms, library, kitchen and auditorium. It was designed in modernistic architecture, with old Tudor style running through it and native stone formed the major portion of the exterior walls. The trim was of carved Indiana lime-stone. Immediately to the rear of the spacious entrance was an auditorium, which had been transformed into a chapel to serve as such until the time a church was erected. The corridors were floored with terrazzo and had a salt glazed brick wainscoting. The auditorium and social hall had maple floors. The new building opened that Fall with an enrollment of 102 pupils.

In 1942, a building at 101-103 South Seventh Avenue in West Reading was purchased to serve as a rectory and the original rectory at 917 Franklin Street in Wyomissing was sold. Thus in the period of 25 years the parish was founded in Wyomissing, was completely moved across Eighth Avenue into West Reading. During this same year, a building at 104 South Seventh Avenue was purchased to enlarge the original convent at 106 South Seventh Avenue.

In 1948, Sacred Heart was split for the first time with the formation of St. John Baptist de la Salle in Shillington. The loss of parishioners and school children was temporary. The 1950s provided the greatest expansion of parish history. By 1953, school enrollment forced conversion of the auditorium into three additional classrooms. Three years later, there were 3,000 parishioners and 460 elementary school pupils. In 1957, Sacred Heart's Pastor, Msgr. Wagner, and his parishioners built a four-classroom wing, making Sacred Heart the largest parochial school in Berks County with 12 classrooms, staffed by eight nuns and four lay teachers.

On July 24, 1960, ground was broken for the present church that now stands at Lakeview Drive and Franklin Street, West Reading. On Sunday May 13, 1962, a corner-stone laying ceremony was held for the new Church thus allowing the building on 7th & Franklin Sts. to house the school only. 

In 1994 the school underwent $1.75 million in renovations. Renovations included a computer room with 25 terminals; a fully equipped science laboratory; a new library; a language laboratory; and remodeled classrooms. Further renovations in the following years include, expansion of the gym, updated computer lab, 2 portable computer labs, art & music room,  interactive smartboards in all classrooms, updated technology server and wifi.