In a large envelope of pictures of old Wayne, lent to me recently by Miss Beatrice Tees, there are some real treasures, including a booklet published by Wendell and Smith, Home Builders, showing all the different types of houses which we now know as the “Wayne Estate Houses.” Later descriptions from this booklet will answer some of the many questions asked me in regard to the history of these homes.
However, there are three pictures in the lot that are of a time before the Wendell and Smith homes. One is entitled “Commuting in 1870”, and shows the first Wayne station on the Pennsylvania Railroad. It is the building now standing slightly to the west of the Wayne Hotel, and used as sleeping quarters for the hotel workers. The caption of the picture says, “During the summer of 1870 residents of Wayne swished through a cornfield to catch the eight-fifteen to Philadelphia. The smaller building in the picture . . . is the waiting room of the Wayne station of the Pennsylvania Railroad. But J. Henry Askin, one of the founders of Wayne, was not so slow or democratic either for he had a private waiting room for his family in the big house adjoining. The station was located to the rear of the Wayne Presbyterian Church and the picture was taken from the cornfield that is now part of the Wayne Hotel property. Although the cottage still stands, the waiting room building was transported to Strafford.”
The second picture of this lot is called “Hitching Post Days”, and shows the large double building of which the Lienhardt store is still a part. Its caption reads: “The Fronefield building ion the southeast corner of what is now Lancaster Pike and Wayne Avenue, in 1890 had ties in its hitching post to accommodate any number of buggies. The vacant half of the store was occupied by Lienhardt’s Bakery, and this part of the building is still standing . . . For a time the Wayne Post Office was housed there.”
The third picture shows that part of the present business block to the east of the Fronefield building as it originally looked. It is called “Business in the Eighties”, and its caption reads: “Where shoppers park their cars nowadays in the Wayne business section . . . there were trees, grass and shrubbery in the eighties. This picture was taken of the south side of Lancaster Pike, east of the Fronefield building. By the aid of a magnifying glass you can read the curb market sign “Christmas Tress for Sale’. In those days merchants and residents were not troubled seriously by the sidewalk problem. A narrow roadway was all that the horses and wagon traffic demanded. Business had no need of a street canopy to keep the sun out because buyers shopped in comfort beneath ample shade trees.”
Of the “Town Fathers”, one Wayne historian, whose notes have been made available to me, mentions first J. Henry Askin, “the Pioneer of 1865”, who built Louella House, the Bloomingdale Avenue houses, and gave property for the Wayne Presbyterian Church. This same historian describes Joseph M. Fronefield as the “First business man”, opening his drug store in the east end of the Lyceum building in 1882 and later moving across the Pike. James C. Pinkerton was the first president of the Electric Light Company, started in 1886. Incidentally, Wayne was the second town in the country to have electricity. Many office buildings in Philadelphia were still using gas at the time.
Fred C. Hallowell was instrumental in starting the Wayne Title and Trust Company. T. Stewart Wood and Joseph C. Egbert, members of the early school board, were responsible for the high school in Wayne Henry Pleasants “saved the name of Wayne for the town when there was a strong idea of changing it.” He was also the historian of this section. The name of Herman Wendell, who came here with the Childs-Drexel operation, will always be associated with the improvement and beauty of the town.
R. H. Johnson built most of the local roads and did most of the landscaping which enhanced the charm of Wayne. Theodore Ramsey had a general store in the Lyceum where everything “from a plough to a hairpin” could be purchased.
There must have been many others who deserved the title of “Town Father”, but here the historian’s list ended. She did pay high tribute to “our Town Mother”, however, when she described Mrs. Helena Lienhardt’s place in Wayne history. Mrs. Lienhardt came to Wayne in 1885 and opened a bakery in the same location in which the present one of the same name still operates. “Mrs. Lienhardt”, our historian comments, “was a splendid business woman and an outstanding person of those days, and as long as she lived held a warm place in the hearts of Wayne people. And what a Mecca that store was for children!”
(to be continued)