Unbuilt St. Davids house, S. Wayne homes – John H. Watt, Saturday Club

The end of the booklet lent me by Miss Beatrice Tees upon which the last several articles have been based shows “Our Latest Plan.” Familiar as is the writer with Wayne and St. Davids houses, she cannot cite for her readers an example of this type of home. Perhaps one like it was never built for the description states “No price can be named for this handsome house until the ground it will occupy is first known. This is one of several special plans which we will build to order at a reasonable price, on any selected ground of one tract. We invite an interview with those needing homes of this high class order.”

So if anyone among our readers has failed to identify his home among those especially described, it may be built from “one of these special plans.”

“After “five years of intelligent and systematic development” of Wayne’s home building, a booklet of another type was printed illustrating the changes and improvements that had been made.

There was one “before and after” picture; several interior views; pictures of the homes of several of Wayne’s leading citizens and pictures of its churches, its school and of its bank. That was the original small Wayne Title and Trust Company building, as many of us still remember it before the present larger building took its place on the same site. There was also a picture of the Wayne Country Club during a cricket match between its team and the Belmont Summer Eleven.

Among the homes of prominent citizens was the residence of John H. Watt, father of Louis Watt, who was for many years president of the Wayne Title and Trust Company. This is the house at the southeast corner of Louella avenue and Upland way, purchased about thirty years ago by John H. Stone and still occupied by members of his family.

The picture shows that there have ben few, if any, changes in the exterior of the large stone and shingle house since it was originally built. A neighboring home, demolished about twelve years ago, is also illustrated. It was the spacious house of Frederick H. Treat at the northeast corner of Louella avenue and Upland way, directly across from the original Watt home. The vacant lot now used by a group of badminton players who have their own fireplace and picnic tables has been purchased by the Christian Science Church, now having headquarters at the Saturday Club. In the not too distant future they will erect their own church building on the old Treat property.

Pictures of two neighboring houses in St. Davids are also shown, one being that of C. S. Walton, on St. Davids road, just where it is joined by Midland avenue. With scarcely any exterior changes it is now the home of the son of the original owner, Charles S. Walton, Jr., who with his family has lived there for a number of years. Directly across the street from the Walton home was the equally impressive residence set in spacious grounds and owned by John W. Yeatts. The years have brought some changes both in the exterior and the interior of this house, which is now owned by Dr. Louis Edward Silcox.

Still another house pictured in this booklet was the residence of State Treasurer John W. Morrison, located at the corner of Chestnut land and Eagle road.

It was one of the houses of the “New Tower” type and is described as having a “southern exposure sheltered on the north and east by the woods, open to the southwest slope, as a house should be.”

(To Be Continued)

Period Descriptions of S. Wayne houses

The next South Wayne and St. Davids house to be described in the real estate pamphlet is of the type best known to the writer of all of those listed, since she lived with her family in one of them for more than twenty years. This was at 431 Midland avenue, St. Davids. these houses had, according to our real estate scribe “a design of very substantial and roomy interior. Cut stone gable on he front, in which a stone archway forms the entrance, has a slate roof” (By the time of our residing in the Midland avenue house these slates had become very loose, and fell of at most inopportune moments, mostly during a rain storm!)

The first floor had “a large reception room and library, with open fireplace, same built of stone. Wide hallway to the stairs, dining room with corner cupboards for china; pantry, kitchen and out kitchen, rear stairs and a porch at the back door.” The usual “five spacious chambers” were on the second floor. Three of them communicated. All were well lighted and every one opening to the hallway. Bathroom and closets on this floor, while on the third floor were “two large bedrooms, two closets and a store room.” This house sold for $9,000 “and upwards.”

Large as some of these houses were, not one boasted more than one bathroom! A modern house of similar size has three or four with a powder room to boot! Sixty years ago powder rooms were an unknown quantity.

Houses such as those at 206 Windermere avenue and at 317 Midland avenue were of “a very old and tasty bit of rural architecture. Quite roomy and comfortable. A wide porch at the front entrance extending along the side of the house. Special features are stairs in a turret, open grates in library and parlor and the general compactness.” And while it had but the usual one bathroom this is especially described as “large.” The price on this home was $8,500 “and upwards.”

The next home on the list is exteriorly so like the one described in last week’s column that it is probably often considered the same by the casual observer. One of these is at 214 Windermere avenue, but it is but one of many! It sold originally for $8,000 “and upwards.” The description is very brief “This is an improvement on the ‘Round End’ house shown on page 9. made larger in some ways, and with a different class of finish, this plan seems to have met a need, and gained popularity with those requiring a spacious house in the country. This house recommends itself,” and the author of the booklet let it go at that!

Still another style of architecture is exemplified by such houses as the one at 401 Midland avenue. Again this id by one example of many from which the writer had to choose. Selling at “$8,000” and the usual “and upwards,” this plan “is a unique model of cosiness. The rooms are fair sized an well arranged for light and comfort. A shady porch all along one side with a return to the front entrance. Interior, about the same number of rooms as the other plans of this classification. This house will suit any ordinary family.”

And then comes an illustration of a house which is seen as frequently as any house in the vicinity and more frequently than many. Examples of this are 420 Midland avenue and 314 Midland avenue. For some reason it sold for only $7,000 though with the usual qualifying phrase “and upwards.” “This class of house,” reads our description, “is an improvement over the ‘Pillar Houses’ built last season. The parlor has been enlarged, and some 15 houses just like it have been sold, and those who live in them are highly pleased with their investments. In one St. Davids area a house of this plan sold before finished.”

If by chance any Wayne Estate owner has not yet found his house described as yet in this column, the answer may possibly be found in next week’s issue.

Vintage train fares, S. Wayne houses

The Wayne Estate booklets from which the writer of this column has been quoting so freely, abound in glowing descriptions of this entire neighborhood in which these houses were being located in the late eighties and early nineties.

George W. Childs and the firm of Wendell and Smith were obviously proud of what they were doing. “The handsomest suburb, perhaps, in the country is Wayne,” they announce in what might be termed a rather sweeping statement since “this country” obviously means the entire United States. The description continues by stating that Wayne is “on the Main Line of the Pennsylvania Railroad, a pleasant twenty-five-minute ride from Broad Street Station, through a district of unexceptional rural beauty, and reached by sixty-four daily trains at convenient hours (Time Table in back of book).” The territory of this charming town embraces an area of about six hundred acres of plateau (four hundred feet above the level of Philadelphia) environed by woodlands; its population, 1500. Wayne is a town far superior to the usual unestablished places in the suburbs of Philadelphia. It has every general improvement in perfect working order.”

The train schedule in the back of the book shows the following fares to Philadelphia. Two-day excursion ticket was seventy-three cents, while a monthly ticket was $7.05 and a monthly school ticket was $4.70. Fifty-trip book for family use was $14.70 and a three months ticket was $19.00, which figured out to ten and a quarter cents per ride. An interesting note was attached to the schedule indicating that “Market baskets, bicycles and baby coaches are entitled to free transportation!”

The writer, note-book in hand, took a leisurely walk through St. Davids recently, in an effort to identify one or two houses of each of the types not already described in last week’s column. A phrase from one of the booklets came into her mind immediately since its truth was so evident. “There is no crowding; we have left a vacant lot between each house, and sell it on easy terms, should more ground be needed.” Some of the early owners evidently took advantage of this opportunity to enlarge their real estate holdings. But in many instances “this vacant lot between each house” is now occupied by a house of a later date to break the sometimes monotonous effect of block after block of Wayne Estate architecture. The 200 block of Windermere avenue on the south side is solid with these houses. They abound also in the 300 and 400 blocks of Midland avenue as they do along the same section of Lancaster pike, especially on the South side.

Houses like those at 210 and again at 226 Windermere avenue were very popular apparently. They were priced at $8,250 “and upwards” and had “a very picturesque exterior. Large porch across the front of the house. First floor – vestibule, spacious hallway, dining room, reception room, library with open grate, mantel and tile work, pantry, kitchen, out-kitchen and back staircase. Hall and stairways connected by archways for curtains. Second floor – Five chambers of good size, three of them across the front, en suite. Bath room and nine closets. Third floor – two servants rooms, a large hall and store room. Special features, open grate in lower hall, dining room, removed from kitchen odors, library has a private entrance to front staircase.”

All of the houses built in South Wayne and St. Davids at this particular time were of about the same size, particularly in the matter of the “five chambers” on the second floor. More of them will be described in next week’s column.