Mixed-use development shaping up in Summerdale

Enola Miller House is saved – moved to new place, for new purpose

Portrait of Jenelle Dulack

By Jenelle Dulack

Knightly News Reporter


A Reading-area company is developing a complex with apartments and commercial properties on 48 acres of land in Summerdale, but action by residents and township officials saved a historic building that sat on the plot.

The Enola Miller House was moved about four blocks from the construction, to preserve it. It is the oldest house in East Pennsboro Township, according to the local historical society. Photo by Michael Lear-Olimpi.

According to Metropolitan Builders of Wyomissing, Berks County, the construction will create 13 three-story buildings holding 260 apartments, seven multisuite office buildings, a hotel, two eateries, a bank, a gas station and a convenience store.

Signs at the site, at the end of Valley Road, along First Street in Summerdale, at U.S. Route 11/15, say the location – billed as The Reserve at Summerdale – will open this autumn.

According to East Pennsboro Township Board of Commissioners President George Tyson, the land was being eyed by developers for over 10 years, but construction was delayed by PennDOT over disinterest in paying for traffic studies and zoning issues.

A rezoning of the land, where the historic Enola Miller House stood, turned the plot into a “traditional neighborhood development, so that no buildings like truck stops or warehouses may be built there,” Tyson said.

In 2018, East Pennsboro residents expressed discontent with the development during a commissioner’s meeting, but Tyson told The Knightly News that this option, which included moving the Miller House to a different place on the site, received the least negative feedback from the community.

One of the structures planned for the site takes form. This view was captured on Sept. 28. Photo by Michael Lear-Olimpi.

Cumberland is one of the fastest-growing counties in Pennsylvania, so the apartments being built in the construction are expected to help with the shortage of housing, Tyson said. The construction is at no expense to taxpayers and is being financed by developers, he explained.

The Historical Society of East Pennsboro and property owner 200 First Street Associates agreed to move the Enola Miller House from its original location last spring.

Originally located on the corner of First and Water streets, the house was moved four blocks by Wolfe House & Building Movers, and now rests on the corner of First and Miller streets.

Petitions, letters, Facebook groups and historical-society members all staked the claim that protection of the Enola Miller House is essential in protecting Enola’s rich history, as its railyard played a major role in transporting goods during wartimes, and many of the town’s inhabitants are veterans. The last step in ensuring it remained standing was its addition to the Cumberland County Register of Historic Places, in 2018.

Built in 1841, the house was the birthplace of Enola Miller, daughter of the railroad superintendent and the namesake of the community of Enola. It remained occupied unscathed until 2007, according to historical society members. In recent years, the historical society worked to preserve the building and is now looking to use it as its headquarters.

Historical society members say the current headquarters is too hard for visitors to find.

Historical society leaders hope soon to add wiring, heating and air conditioning, roofing and more to the brick structure to make the space livable again.

The renovation is costly, and the society is asking residents invested in saving Enola’s history to donate to the restoration at its website or by sending money to the organization, at 401 Cherry St., Enola, PA 17025.

More information about the Enola Miller House and the township can be found at the Historical Society of East Pennsboro’s website.

Dulack is president of The Knightly News Media Club @ Central Penn College.

Comment or story idea? Contact KnightlyEditors@CentralPenn.Edu.

Edited by media-club co-adviser and blog editor Professor Michael Lear-Olimpi.