Old photos, “Town Fathers” – early businessmen, Mrs. Lienhardt

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)

Old roads of Wayne – railroad and Wayne Station moved

In continuing the story of Wayne as it was in the early 80’s, it is interesting to note what Mr. Joseph M. Fronefield, Jr., wrote concerning roads in this vicinity.

Country roads were the Conestoga, Eagle, Radnor and Church roads. “The first,” Mr. Fronefield wrote, “Is today in the same location, but the Radnor road left the Lancaster Pike near where Pembroke Avenue is now and crossed the Pennsylvania Railroad diagonally at grade and came through the property now owned by Joseph Rosengaren and struck its present road-bed where it crosses Aberdeen Terrace. The lines may not be followed in some places, particularly near the point where it crossed the railroad.”

Eagle Road was in its present location, excepting it crossed the Pennsylvania Railroad west of Wayne at grade. In this connection it is interesting to remember what Miss Dorothy Finley told me about the mushrooms and wild strawberries that once grew in such abundance along the railroad track on Eagle Road, between Wayne and Strafford stations. Whenever any Wayne housewife wanted either mushrooms or strawberries for the table, it was there she went to pick them. (Miss Finley lives in what was once the old Ramsey farm house on Beechtree lane.)

Church road, according to Mr. Fronefield’s account, “left the Lancaster pike east of St. Davids Golf Links, crossing the Conestoga road at what is now known as Five Points, thence straight to St. Davids Church. The part of this road which passed through the property of William T. Wright was abandoned some years ago.” Hall lane, so called because it led from the railroad to the old Lyceum Hall, once located on the site of the Baptist Church on Conestoga road, has already been described in this column.

So much for roads. As to streets, the first one built by Drexel and Childs was North Wayne avenue, from Lancaster Pike to Eagle road. “At about the same time,” Mr. Fronefield writes, “the railroad was moved from the crest of the hill to its present location and the station located as at present. The road to the old station was closed. The first station at the new location was a frame structure, which some years later was replaced by the present station, since altered. The original one was moved to Strafford, where it still stands.

“In building Wayne avenue, the road was changed so as to cross the Lancaster Pike at right angles and the old roadbed through Lienhardt’s and LaDow’s (now the Sun Ray store) was abandoned.

“A few years later Audubon avenue and Aberdeen avenue were both built, Audubon starting from Wayne avenue just South of the Lancaster Pike and winding through to the Conestoga road, where now stand the homes of Mr. and Mrs. Tillotson and Dr. Truxal. (The Tillotson home is now owned by A. A. Schley.)

“Aberdeen started from the Radnor road North of the railroad at the entrance of the present Stone property (now the Robert N. D. Arndt house), crossing the Lancaster Pike where St. Katharine’s Church now stands, and running to the Conestoga road, where it established what is known as the Five Points. Windermere avenue soon followed from Audubon to Aberdeen avenue.”

The description of Bloomingdale is probably in the first pages of Mr. Fronefield’s account. The pages were unfortunately lost before the stenographer’s not book in which Mr. Fronefield wrote had been found by his son, J. M. Fronefield, 3d. However, the date of he building of the plastered mansard roof houses on Bloomingdale avenue is given as 1871. They were built by J. Henry Askin and later acquired by Drexel and Childs.

“These houses have all been much improved in the intervening years, though the general architecture is much the same as it was,” according to Mr. Fronefield. Another very old house which he mentions is the J. R. Pinkerton home at the corner of Louella avenue and the Pike. It was the first residence erected under the Wayne ownership of Drexel and Childs. Though it is still standing, it is so obscured by the row of stores in front of it, including the large Acme market, that few passersby ever notice the original house.

With this article I have used all the valuable information in Mr. Fronefield’s story of early Wayne. He has been dead for several years. But he would be glad to know, I feel, that Wayne of this generation can, through what he wrote, glimpse a bit of the picture of his Wayne of the early 80’s and 90’s. His account closes with the following amusing brief paragraph:

“Saturday nights in the early days were great nights. All the farmers and their friends for miles around came into town. Cracker barrel, wheelbarrow and macaroni box seats were at a premium and on many nights the early corners pre-empted the Presbyterian Church sheds to keep their horses in the dry, while the latecomers had to be satisfied with fence posts to which to tie. the same people were back, however, on Sunday morning to Church services.”

Hughs estate (cont.), William Wood house, “Caesar”

The old Cleaver farm house where Mr. and Mrs. William D. Hughs lived so happily with their young family after they purchased it from Mr. and Mrs. J. Henry Askin in 1878, remained very much as it was at the time of the purchase until about the year 1887. At that time several additions were made to the house, including a third floor and a large porch, which was open in summer and enclosed in winter with many growing plants to add to its cheerfulness.

A modern architect building onto a lovely old house such as the Cleaver one, would keep to the simplicity of the original structure. However, this particular architect was carried away by the more ornate tendencies of the eighties and the new third floor had the mansard-type roof! Mrs. Sausser tells me that this spoiled the charm of the old house to some extent, though its comfort still remained. With the third floor addition the house had twenty-five rooms in all.

While the remodeling of their own house was going on the Hughs family went to live with Mrs. Hughs’ father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. George J. Corrie, who resided at that time in the house on the northwest corner of Bloomingdale and Lenoir avenues, now occupied by Doctor and Mrs. Henry G. Fischer. For fifty years Mr. Corrie taught music at Villanova College. He was the organist at the Wayne Presbyterian Church and had a studio in the same building with the Wayne Estate offices. (This is where Wayne Frosted Foods, Inc., is now located).

In 1896 William Wood bought the Hugh’s home and lived there with his large family while his new home was being built on a site almost directly adjoining that of the original house. This handsome home, built in Elizabethan style by the well known firm of Hazelfurst and Huckle, though now unoccupied, still stands on the large piece of ground on Lancaster Pike directly west of the Fried Building. This entire plot of ground is soon to be converted to commercial purposes. In the destruction of the old Hughs home after the building of the new house, the corner stone with its markings of 1775 was unfortunately lost.

In 1894, two of Mrs. William Wood’s daughters were married in a double ceremony in the Wayne Presbyterian Church. This was the first wedding to be performed in the present church building, services up to that time having been held in what is now known as the Chapel, built in 1870.

Mr. Wood’s grounds were always beautifully planted and tended as Mr. Hughs’ had been. There were spreading oaks, giant ginko trees, Japanese maples, chestnut trees and much shrubbery, including many rhododendrons. The famous Bellevue Hotel adjoined his property toward the west, and when this burned down William W. Hearne built the house which still stands on the same site as the old hotel on the corner of the Pike and Bellevue avenue. In the early eighties J. Henry Askin built the house on the corner of North Wayne avenue and Lancaster avenue which has recently been converted into the Cobb and Lawless store. This house was occupied by Mr. Askin and his family after they moved from Louella House.

In the same year that Mr. Wood built his home, the Central Baptist Church, is it now stands, was completed. About this time Dr. Smedley built the very handsome house which still stands just ot the west of Albrecht’s Flower Shop. For some reason the Smedley family never occupied it and it later passed ito the possession of J. M. Fronefield, Jr. Between the Wood property and the Railroad station and leading to the Bellevue Hotel ran a boardwalk built on high stilts. This was for the accommodation of those who wished to keep out of the mud of North Wayne avenue and of Lancaster Pike!

On the old Dr. Wells’ property, where Mrs. Sausser, Mrs. Jiggens and Mrs. Scott now make their home, there is a happy reminder of the days when they were the three little Hughs girls playing on their father’s farm and swinging in the big swing near the old spring house. It is “Caesar” the iron dog, whose first home was Louella House, as shown in an old picture now in the possession of Herman P. Lengel. Mr. Askin later gave “Caesar” to Mr. Hughs to be placed on his lawn. Within the past four years he has been transferred to the yard of the former Wells home. There are many amusing tales told in connection with old “Caesar,” notable that of the time when Mary Hughs, now Mrs. Jiggens, hid the key to her father’s ice house in the dog’s hollow interior, and for some time refused to reveal the hiding place! He is still an object of much interest to all passerby, including children and real dogs, who actually bark at him!

(For information in this article supplementary to that given me by Mrs. Malcolm G. Sausser, I am indebted to Miss Josephine W. Scott.)

Cleaver Farm, W.D. Hughs estate – hobos

In addition to the farms already described in this column as making up Wayne as Joseph Fronefield knew it when he came here in the early 80’s, there was the Cleaver place.

Of it Mr. Fronefield writes: “The old Cleaver farm house, a fine old stone house on a well-kept lawn, owned and occupied by William D. Hughs, situated on the north side of Lancaster Pike, was scrapped some years later to make room for the home of William Wood.”

Since the Wood place, with its handsome stone house surrounded by spacious lawns and trees is soon to be converted to commercial purposes, it seems a matter of general interest at this time to go more fully into the story of what was originally the Cleaver farm.

In the course of a pleasant evening’s conversation with Mrs. Malcolm G. Sausser in her apartment on Walnut avenue, she gave me much first-hand information about where she and her two sisters and her brother spent their childhood. The brother, Owen Hughs, is now dead, but the three sisters, Mrs. Frederick H. Jiggens, Mrs. William A. Scott and Mrs. Sausser, all have apartments in what for many years was the home of Doctor and Mrs. George Miles Wells on Walnut avenue, now known as the Humphries Apartments. Mrs. Sausser has been largely responsible for the organization and rapid growth of the recently formed Radnor Historical Society.

The original Cleaver house was built in 1775, Mrs. Sausser tells me. In looking up old records in the office of the Recorder of Deeds in Media, she has raced its ownership as far back as 1854, when it was sold to Hiram Cleaver and his wife, Sarena D., by Morceau Delaus and his wife, Sarah.

The next owners were J. Henry Askin and his wife, Louise, who purchased the house and 199 acres from the Cleavers. On April 6, 1878, Mr. Askin sold the property to William D. Hughes, Mrs. Sausser’s father.

Old pictures in the possession of Mrs. Sausser and her sisters show the home as a large stone one of two stories in height, long and rather narrow, with very thick walls.
It graced Lancaster Pike on a site slightly north of the present William Wood house. On the west side were two doors, side by side, a very puzzling matter to itinerant peddlers, who knocked first on one door and then on the other, convinced that the house must be a two-family affair! The big kitchen contained an old-fashioned bake oven. Three sets of staircases throughout the house connected the spacious first and second floors.

The old pictures show, too, the tall windmill on the west side of the house which brought water up from the springhouse. Except for the wind-driven wheel at the top, the entire frame unit was covered with wisteria, with its lovely hanging lavender flowers.

The springhouse was located to the south of the house and near the Pike, with several paths leading to it, not only from the house, but from the road. Many people from far and near came to use the punt as the water from the spring was supposed to be exceptionally pure – even tramps trudging along the Pike stopped to drink there.

The springhouse, as shown in an exceptionally clear picture, was a picturesque one with its shingled roof covered with moss. All around it were tall sycamore trees of great girth. Mrs. Sausser recalls vividly the pump and the trough into which the clear water gushed, and the inner part of the springhouse which was kept locked, since all the milk from the farm was set there to cool. It was also a wonderful place in which to chill watermelons. The remains of the old springhouse are still on the front lawn of the Wood place, the site being marked by a large clump of rhododendrons.

On the place was also a cider press, since there were so many apples from the orchard from which to make cider. At the back of the house itself stood the ice-house, the front door of which was tightly closed after enough ice had been packed into it so that it was more convenient to take it from the back door.

The site of the Wood house is just about the former site of the old Hughs ice-house. Then there was the big barn which housed the farm animals and the pets of the Hughs family, including two donkeys, two goats and a pony. One picture shows clearly the donkey cart, drawn by two of the faithful small animals.

Mrs. Sausser recalls the endless pleasures their pets gave, not only to the Hughs children, but to their young friends as well. Tramps passing along both the railroad and the Pike often asked Mrs. Hughs’ permission to sleep in the barn. This permission was usually given, provided the overnight guests gave all their matches into Mrs. Hugh’s possession until morning!

(These reminiscences and descriptions of the old Cleaver farm, after it had passed into the possession of the Hughs and Wood families, will be continued in next week’s column.)