A stately century-old mansion once owned by Wyomissing Industries co-founder Henry K. Janssen was sold at an Internal Revenue Service auction for $715,000.
The 12-room, 8,400-square-foot mansion on Reading Boulevard in Wyomissing had fallen in disrepair and was condemned by the borough this year because it lacked heat, water and had water damage, said Marti Hozey, borough manager.
“It still looks pretty good from the outside,” Hozey said.
She said the new owner, whose name she declined to disclose, intends to restore the home to its former glory.
Proceeds from the auction will be used toward satisfying some of the nearly $5 million in federal income tax owed by the mansion’s owner, Bruce Irrgang of Chester County, including $38,000 owed to the borough and Berks County, Hozey said.
Wyomissing Industries, founded by Janssen and Ferdinand Thun in 1892, grew into one of the world’s largest textile manufacturers with its divisions, Textile Machine Works, Narrow Fabric Co. and Berkshire Knitting Mills, which once employed 9,000 people and was the world’s largest manufacturer of women’s hosiery. The VF Outlet eventually bought those factories.
Wyomissing Borough Hall is in Thun’s former home, also on Reading Boulevard.
Sime Bertolet, executive director of the Berks History Center, called Thun and Janssen the “dynamic duo” who helped make Reading and Berks County a manufacturing powerhouse.
The pair founded Wyomissing borough, one of the first planned communities in the nation, Reading Hospital and the Reading Public Museum.
Wyomissing was a company town with housing for Janssen’s and Thun’s employees, from millworkers to executives, and added all the elements that create “quality of place and life,” Bertolet said.
They built the Buttonwood Street Bridge so their employees had easy access to their jobs and could get back to Wyomissing, he said.
“From the beauty of the Wyomissing to its tree-lined streets, it was all there, all because of Thun and Janssen,” he said.
“I think the word ‘visionary’ is not an exaggeration.”