Berks Places is a recurring feature that will focus on small villages and census designated places in the county. History, nostalgia and local voices will shed light on the quaint nooks and crannies of our area. Additional historical photographs accompany the online version of the articles.
At the intersection of Baldy Hill, Landis Store, Oysterdale and Forgedale roads in District Township, a thriving hamlet developed.
According to Berks County historian George M. Meiser IX, John Weller established the first public house in the area around 1800 and subsequently sold the property to Samuel Landis.
The deed records are a bit muddy. A deed recorded April 7, 1887, refers to an April 7, 1825, transaction from John Weller to Samuel Landis for 1,182 pounds in gold and silver. It involved 78 acres.
“Landis’ Store Post Office was established Aug. 20, 1853 — that’s early,” Meiser said, noting Nathan Landis was the first postmaster.
The U.S. Post Office had a disdain for apostrophes in postal name, so it forced many of them to close and be renamed. Landis’ Store followed suit on Dec. 4, 1894.
“It reopened the same day as Landis Store, without the apostrophe, Dec. 4, 1894, and it continued until April 30, 1956,” Meiser said.
When it reopened, John H. Landis was the postmaster.
The post office was operated in the general store, which was an annex to the right of the Landis Store Hotel. It has since been removed.
According to the Landis Store Hotel website, https://www.landis-store.com/, the general store remained open until 1970 when it was owned by Ralph and Helen Hoffman.
“When I was doing research, I would go there to get a loaf of bread, a half-pound of bologna and mustard,” Meiser said.
The current owners of the Landis Store Hotel are the Hoffmans’ daughter Janet and her husband, Gary Henshaw. They purchased the property Jan. 5, 1978. The Hoffmans had owned the property since April 15, 1952, when they purchased it from brothers Walter S. and Warren S. Renninger.
Today, the Landis Store Hotel offers fine dining either in the indoor dining room that seats 100 or on the back patio. It is open Wednesday through Saturday, 4 to 9 p.m.
“If you’ve never eaten there, you should,” said Anthony Weinsteiger, who farms more than 100 acres in the area with his brother Steven.
Anthony Weinsteiger has lived in the village since he was born in 1966.
His grandparents, Adolph P. and Josephine Weinsteiger, came to the area to farm and purchased 145 acres from Kermit K. and Minnie Reichert on Nov. 19, 1956, according to county deed records.
When asked what life is like in Landis Store today, Anthony was quick to answer: “It’s heaven.”
Weinsteiger said he stayed in area because his father, Robert R. Weinsteiger, farmed and he wanted to continue hat.
“A lot of new folks come in here that aren’t local and want to complain about the farming and this and that,” Anthony Weinsteiger said. “They want to develop and we don’t. We want to keep the open space.”
As is the case in many other rural areas of Berks, Weinsteiger said the biggest changes he has seen are the number of houses going up and the increase in traffic.
“When you were a kid growing up and you saw like two or three cars a day, you were lucky,” Weinsteiger said. “Now you see a 100.”
The village also has been known as Landisville, Meiser said.
The former Landisville Schoolhouse at 23 Conrad Road has been converted into a residence. Deed records show Samuel Landis sold the school property to the School Directors of District Township for $4 on July 6, 1867.
Weinsteiger also moved a log cabin to the village, which he has turned into a modern home on Forgedale Road, just a few lots from the farm house he grew up in at Forgedale and Landis Store Roads.
Meiser said what is standing today is the second Landis Store Hotel.
“There’s a road on the lefthand side of the hotel — there’s an orchard back there somewhere — and right across the road is another building. And that, I think, is the original hotel.”
Other buildings of note include a nondescript two-story building that was home to the Landis Store Lodge Hall on the second floor and a resident town photographer on the first floor, which was unusual, Meiser said.