The Slovak Catholic Sokol Home Association of Reading, Pennsylvania, began its roots in the 1930’s. The first Home Association (Sokol Club), was established on November 26th 1930. The building which currently exists was located at 540 Laurel Street in Reading. The building was once known as the LAUREL MOTION PICTURE THEATRE, which opened on August 30, 1914. O.D. Keehan was the manager, Mary A. Ernst owned the place. Early on, Fred Stock was the projectionist and Charles Bloom played the organ. In the 1920’s, management changed and the movie house was renamed the PALM. In 1927 there were more changes to the theatre and again it was renamed the RIVOLI. The Rivoli remained until it closed by the effects of the Great Depression. In 1932 it was renovated to suit the needs of the SLOVAK CATHOLIC SOKOL. The Sokol club remained at the Laurel street location until 1977. The officers and members sought after another property in hopes of expanding their club quarters. They purchased the former READING POLICE HOME at 411 Crestmont Street in Millmont.
Prior to The Reading Police Home it was the Saint DENATO’S Italian Club. The Sokol Club on Laurel street was sold to the LIBERTY FIREMAN’S RELIEF ASSOCIATION. For over 30 years we’ve remained at our present location, and are now looking to the future in expanding our business. Our Sokol club was established as a social quarters where family and friends could gather and fraternalize.
The Slovak Catholic Sokol National organization was established in Passaic New Jersey on July 4, 1905. For over 100 years we continue to grow and prosper. The SCS was founded for the simple purpose to provide the Slovak immigrants a sense of financial security as they settled in their new home the United States of America. Keeping with their religion, the SCS remained close to the heritage of the Slovak homeland and the teachings of the Cyrilo-Methodian faith.
They also saw the need to promote physical fitness by supporting the gymnastic movement, as well as other sports. Throughout the SCS history the organization continues to sponsor various Local and National tournaments in bowling, golf, basketball, softball along with the International Slet (Olympics).
More and more immigrants began to settle in the United States. Many of these immigrants settled in the states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York and New Jersey. Seeing the need for the SCS to grow, individual branches of the society were formed. In 1929, the men’s Assembly 261 and the ladies Wreath 155 were founded in Reading, Pa. This group of men and women decided that a home was needed for everyone to gather. They decided to purchase the Rivioli Theatre at 540 Laurel Street in Reading. After the purchase it was renovated to fit the needs as a social gathering place as well as a social hall to instruct gymnastics and calisthenics. The Sokol hall was named the Slovak Catholic Sokol Home Association. It was a great meeting place, and located in the Slovak community in the south side of Reading. Sharing the neighborhood with the Slovak parish of SS Cyril and Methodius, many parishioners became members of the Sokols.
Our Sokol club continues to sponsor Teams in Bowling, golf, basketball, volleyball and gymnastics. We also offer a bar to sit, relax and enjoy the fellowship of our members.