Shillington, Pennsylvania

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Shillington is a borough in Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States with a population of 5,059 at the 2000 census nestled amongst other suburbs outside of Reading. It is perhaps best known as the place where author John Updike lived until he was 13, and it is the basis for the town of Olinger that he wrote about in his fiction.[1]



Shillington began in 1860 as part of Cumru Township, when local landowner and borough namesake Samuel Shilling sold some of his lots for residences. The area had an inn, originally built in 1762, called the Three Mile House because it was 3 miles (5 km) from Reading on the Lancaster Pike. The inn was a popular stop for farmers going to the city's markets and later it sat near a horse racing track built by Aaron Einstein in 1868.

A post office opened in Shillington in 1884. On August 18, 1908, the Quarter Session Court officially incorporated the borough of Shillington as a separate municipality from Cumru Township with a population of 450.[2] Later that year Shillington elected its first official, Adam Rollman, as chief burgess. Borough council meetings were held in various locations over the years until the present town hall was completed in 1932.[2]

Much of the borough's present land was occupied by Angelica Farm which would be established as an almshouse, or poorhouse, in 1824. The alms house was replaced by Bern Township's Berks Heim in 1952. The buildings of the Governor Mifflin School District now occupy most of land that was once part of the almshouse. Today, the most notable visible remnant of the poorhouse is a stone wall that is within short walking distance down the road from John Updike's old home. Updike's first novel, The Poorhouse Fair, is set in a fictional building based on Shillington's poorhouse.[3][4] Angelica Farm was also the historical home of Thomas Mifflin, the first governor of Pennsylvania.


Shillington is located at 40°18′16″N 75°58′1″W / 40.30444°N 75.96694°W / 40.30444; -75.96694 (40.304342, -75.966855).[5] It is situated in southeastern Pennsylvania, adjacent to Reading, the county seat, and about 100 km (60 miles) northwest of Philadelphia. The Wyomissing Creek runs alongside Shillington. Cumru Township largely surrounds Shillington, except for the border with Wyomissing in the northwest.

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