In 1851 William Harbster opened a small blacksmith shop at the foot of south 6th street. Several years later, his two brothers joined him, and the business became the foundation for the Reading Hardware Company which by 1888 had grown into a large, well known manufacturer of builder’s hardware. At its peak, the company occupied five acres and had 2,500 employees. They manufactured hinges, locks, doorbells, bolts and doorknobs, as well as apple parers, coffee mills and scales.
In 1888, a massive fire destroyed most of the company’s buildings which were promptly rebuilt. The present pub area was constructed at that time, and of note in this section are the ceiling beams each ofwhich were cut from one tree and are approximately 40 feet long. The dining room area was constructed in the 20’s as was the large building next door.
During World War II the Reading Hardware Company made armor plate for the war effort. Helmets, shell casings, armor plate for tanks, bomb fuses, and light armor plate for the bottom of airplane seats were all manufactured here.
In the early 1950’s, the Reading Hardware Company closed its doors for various reasons. Since then, many of the buildings have been torn down, while the remaining structures have been rented as industrial warehouse space or converted into apartments (the Riverloft). In the early 1960’s the J.E. Tobacco company was a major tenant in this building with its cigarette and candy distributorship (in the current brewery area) and catalogue showroom (in the current pub and restaurant areas). After Jetco, threshold rehabilitation services rented the space for their microfilming operations and the photo license center.
In 1995, the Baushers and McShanes joined forces to create the Neversink Brewery and Canal Street Pub and Restaurant. Construction began in January 1996 with the Grand Opening on July 31. The Canal Street Pub and Restaurant is like no other space in Berks County. It combines an unusual atmosphere with great food and great beer.