The Wayne Art Center, part 3

The Charter for the Wayne Art Center when granted on January 29, 1932, in the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas, stated the purpose for which the corporation was formed to be as follows:

“To induce the use of free time creatively in the community and to promote the art of self-expression and appreciation of beauty by studying, teaching and disseminating knowledge of painting, drawing, sculpture, music, drama and handcrafts.”

The Art Center’s means of maintenance was to be “by tuition fees received for instruction, by dues or fees for members and by voluntary contribution.” That its founders were ambitious in their ideas on future finances is witnessed by Article 9 of the Charter, which states that “The annual income of the corporation, other than that derived from real estate, shall not exceed the sum of $20,000.”

The first meeting of the incorporators of the Art Center was immediately followed by the first meeting of the newly elected directors. Miss Mary L. Walsh was chosen president, with Henry R. Harris and E. deF. Curtis to serve as vice-presidents. Mrs. Clarence Tolan, Jr., was elected treasurer and C. A. McClure, secretary. William H. Lister was made chairman of the activities committee; Mrs. Addison S. Buck of the House Committee; Arthur N. Edrop of the Publicity Committee and Richard Howson of the Finance Committee.

Directors for the first term of office included: George H. Borst, Dr. A. S. Buck, C. P. Cox, E. deF. Curtis, A. H. Edrop, Mrs. John W. Frazier, H. R. Harris, Miss Dora W. Howson, William H. Lister, Mrs. C. A. McClure, S. V. Rowland, Mrs. W. N. Stilwell, Miss H. Velma Turner, Miss M. L. Walsh, Miss Lillian A. Wlater, Mrs. Rufus Waples and P. G. Watmough.

In commenting on the newly incorporated Art Center “The Suburban”, in its issue of March 4, stated that “the problem in the Charter is something to which sociologists and economists the world over are giving consideration. It is a question which must be solved, not only in this community, but in all communities. Wayne should be congratulated on having arrived at at least one solution of the problem in the development of an art center. The idea, born but a few short months ago, struggling successfully towards its ultimate goal in spite of many difficulties, has already made itself an important factor in the life of the town.”

The phenomenal success of the work carried on during that first summer of 1931 warranted very definite plans for diversified classes for the fall term and again for the spring term of 1932. Preserved in the first scrap book of newspaper clippings of the Art Center is a charming picture accompanying a special feature article appearing in the “Evening Ledger” of June 30, 1931. It shows a group of four Wayne youngsters as they sat under the trees working with paints or clay, under the supervision of Miss Elizabeth Gookin. They are Jack and Bill Simons and Laura and Mary Carpenter, all of whom have since moved from Wayne. These four were a fration of those who enrolled as soon as the opportunity presented itself. In the end there were some 136 students, 119 of whom were youngsters. Mrs. McClure, who was a well-known painter and illustrator, was in charge of the work at the studio in the garage on the H. B. Powell place on Midland avenue. Miss Gookin, likewise a painter, who was also particularly interested in pottery, assisted Mrs. McClure. Others who taught the children’s classes were Miss Jean Frazier, Mrs. William Beatty, and Miss Edith Lengert. The adult class, meeting on Friday nights, had P. G. Watmough, of Devon, as its instructor. Later on George H. Borst, well-known local sculptor, was added to the list of instructors.

September saw the first exhibition of the work of the new Art Center, an exhibition which drew goodly crowds for a week’s time. Among the visitors of note were William Tefft Schwartz, painter of murals; Hy Gage, famous cartoonist; W. H. Lister, illustrator of many books and of numerous advertising campaigns and S. V. Rowland, superintendent of schools.

In addition to classes a series of educational talks on subjects related to arts and crafts was planned for the spring term of 1932, the first being one on ceramic art by E. deF. Curtis, on of the founders of the Art Center and a man well-known for the beauty of his pottery, which he designed and made in Strafford. In addition to his own work Mr. curtis was a teacher of pottery at the Pennsylvania Museum Schools of Industrial Art in Philadelphia.

But for all of its activity the Wayne Art Center’s finances were at a low ebb at this time. The report of the finance committee at an April meeting was largely confined to a “discussion of the present emergency as regards operating funds.” Since the response to recent circular letters had been disappointing, it was imperative to raise money to tide the organization over until fall. May proposals were made, including that of an auction sale of the work of active members of the Art Center, to follow the exhibition planned for May. It was also deemed necessary that donations be solicited from parents of children enrolling in the summer classes, although tuition would continue to be free to those who could not afford a contribution. But in spite of misgivings the summer session of 1932 was a full one, as will be described in next week’s column.

The Wayne Art Center, part 2

The pages of the old minutes book of the Wayne Art Center, although now a bit yellow with the years, bear testimony to the interest which that first meeting, called on March 5, 1931, by Miss Mary Walsh, aroused in the small group of men and women who attended it. During that Spring other meetings followed each other in such rapid succession that at times they occurred every week. There were as many ideas as there were interested people. And these ideas were developed and further formulated by the discussion that took place at each meeting.

Although there is no complete list of those who attended those meetings in the Spring of 1931, the following names appear from time to time in the early records: Miss Mary L. Walsh, Mr. and Mrs. Edward Shaw, Miss Bernadine Tolan, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur N. Edrop, Mr. and Mrs. Henry R. Harris, Henry Andrews, Dr. and Mrs. Addison S. Buck, Mrs. F. A. Cajori, Miss Elvira Eckert, Miss Field, Mrs. Ross W. Fishburn, Miss Dora Howson, Mrs. Alda Makarov, Sydney V. Rowland, Miss H. Velma Turner, Miss Lillian Walter, Mrs. Rufus Waples, Miss Lecian Von Bernuth, Miss Elizabeth Gookin, George Borst, Maulsby Kimball, Mr. and Mrs. Charles A. McClure, Miss Beatrice Tees, Statts Cotsworth, Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Tolan, E. deForrest Curtis, T. Bayard Beatty, Jr., Theodore B. Brooks, Harold Darr, George L. Harrison, Miss Margaret Herr, Miss Myra Paxton, Captain H. L. Jenkinson, Miss Girton, Mrs. Truxton Brodhead, Miss Lucas, Pendleton Watmough, Mrs. W. N. Stilwell, Mrs. Charles W. Bayliss, Christopher P. Cox, Mrs. A. J. County and William H. Lister. And doubtless there were others whose names were not recorded.

The scope of such an organization as was under consideration was discussed at each of the early meetings. In addition to the study of painting, drawing and sculpture, which was generally pretty well agreed upon, there were many other suggestions. Among these were the study of drama, music, English expression, literature and numerous arts and crafts.

Various names were suggested for this new organization. Among them were Arts and Crafts Center of Wayne, The Hobby House, The Avocational Guild, The Treasure House, The Workshop, The Alchemists and the Grashaw Studios. Finally, at the meeting held on May 14, “The Wayne Art Center” was formally adopted as the name of the new organization “because it needed no explanation and was definite and concrete.” However, the workshop in the Powell garage was to be known as the “Grashaw Studios,” the name being “in commemoration of Mr. Graham Shaw.” At this same meeting Miss Walsh was appointed to serve as executive secretary until September 1, 1931, with Mr. Harris as vice-chairman and Dr. Buck as secretary-treasurer.

At an earlier meeting the scope of work for the new Wayne Art center was defined by the two following motions made by Mr. Curtis:

“That an Arts and Crafts Center be started to encourage the appreciation of the arts by instruction and by providing work shops and a place in which exhibitions may be held.”

“That the Committee recommends that at this time, the center begin the instruction in drawing, painting, sculpture and music.”

These two motions were carried. But Mr. Andrews, still firm in his conviction that the way be left open for a wider field of teaching, moved an amendment that was carried, to the effect: “That any of the other branches of the Arts should be held under consideration for the future development of the Center.”

Two matters now became of permanent importance, namely, publicity in regard to the new Art Center and the financing of the project. Dr. Buck was the first chairman of publicity, to be succeeded later by Mr. Edrop. Newspaper notices and personal contacts were the media of this committee in arousing further public interest in the new project. In order to start classes in the summer of 1931, money was contributed by a number of those who were currently interested in the project. These were considered as active voting members, while those who showed their interest by attending meetings, but who did not contribute, were members without votes.

Total contributions for the first summer’s work in the Humbert Powell garage on Windermere avenue were slightly over 200 dollars. However, expenses were not heavy, either, since all instructors working under the direction of Mrs. McClure were volunteers. In all, some 136 enthusiastic students had been enrolled. So encouraged were the leaders of the new Art Center that plans were immediately laid for winter. With very little in the bank, letters were sent out to 350 residents of the community, inviting them to become active, sustaining or honorary members. Early returns warranted the formation of classes which could be carried on for at least the early part of the season.

Classes for children were scheduled for Saturday mornings. Those for older groups were planned for Tuesday afternoons and evenings, as well as Friday evenings. Mrs. McClure, Mr. Lister, and Mr. Watmough were instructors for adult classes in pen and ink, drawing and painting, while Mr. Borst taught classes in modeling.

And then as Winter progressed, plans were formulated for the incorporation of this new organization, under the official name of the Wayne Art Center. On January 6, 1932, this name was filed and recorded in the office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. On January 29 the Charter was approved and the corporation was recorded in the Court of Common Pleas by Judge John M. Broomall.

Subscribers to the Charter were the Misses Walsh, Turner, Howson, Gookin; Mesdames McClure, Fishburn, Tolan, Buck, Waples, Bayliss, County and Stillwell; Messrs Harris, Edrop, Tolan, Cox, Harrison, Curtis, Buck, Lister, Rowland and Watmough.

 To be continued)

The Wayne Art Center, part 1 – Radnor High School

Like most of the large houses built in Wayne in the late 1880’s and the early 1890’s, Mrs. Craig Atmore’s home at 314 Louella avenue has a big barn in the rear of the building lot. Like many of its contemporaries this building is larger and more stately than the average house that is being erected these days. Aside from using a comparatively small part of the downstairs portion for garage space, most of the owners of these structures of a bygone era do not quite know how to utilize them. Indeed, a one or two-car garage would have much more purpose in most cases. And besides, it would not take up nearly so much of the building lot!

Mrs. Atmore’s barn is a notable exception to this rule, however. For it houses one of Radnor township’s most interesting and unusual organizations, The Wayne Art Center, founded 20 years ago this Spring as the result of a small meeting held on March 5, 1931 in Miss Mary Walsh’s apartment in Windermere Court.

This meeting opened, according to its minutes, as kept by Dr. Addison S. Buck, “with a brief statement to the effect that the purpose . . . was to discuss what might be done in Wayne for persons either out of work or with surplus leisure time at their disposal, by providing a suitable place for them to go, with opportunities to engage in avocational pursuits, or, more specifically, opportunities for self-expression.”

1931 was one of the years of “the depression”. There were more than a few among us “either out of work or with surplus leisure time.” Then, besides, such a project as this contemplated would give the children of the township “a suitable atmosphere and materials . . . to learn to use their free time with the development of an appreciation of the beautiful things of life.”

As an example of what might be attained, the excellent work of the Graphic Sketch Club of Philadelphia, under the guidance of Mr. Fleisher, was cited. Mrs. Ross W. Fishburn, who had questioned Mr. Fleisher in regard to what could be done along similar lines in Wayne, quoted him as saying that one thing that might be accomplished would be “the establish a center of beauty, where one may work creatively,” adding this terse statement, “America has no reserve in art.”

This meeting was attended by 22 interested residents of the township. A second meeting, held a week later at the Field and Shaw Shop, then located at the corner of Lancaster avenue and Louella drive, had a still larger attendance. Ideas on organization became more concrete and various committees were appointed. By the third meeting, held on March 19, a motion was passed “that an Arts and Crafts Centre be started to encourage the appreciation of the arts by instruction and by providing workshops and a place in which exhibitions may be held.”

These were the comparatively simple beginnings of one of Radnor township’s noteworthy institutions, The Wayne Art Center, now housed in the barn at the rear of 314 Louella avenue. Its first home was in the second floor of the large garage, formerly used as a stable, on the Humbert B. Powell property on Windermere avenue, the rental agreement for which was signed on May 28, 1931. Several years later the Art Center took up quarters in Radnor High School before moving to its present location.

The 20 years intervening between the Spring of 1931 and this Spring of 1951 have been interesting, colorful ones that will be described in later articles in this column. These years led up to the present time, when each week sees six classes in session, each taught by professionals, all of whom are recognized artists in their particular fields. The old barn is a veritable bee-hive of activity, with the large room on the second floor used as the studio for the various classes. Three smaller rooms of this floor, as well as the hourse stables on the main floor are used for storage of large quantities of supplies, such as easels, paints, paper, objects for still life, pieces of sculpture, plaster, indeed all actual necessities for painting and sculpturing.

Unique among the six classes is the lively Saturday morning one for children, taught by Mrs. Edward Fenno Hoffman, assisted by Mrs. Russell Moore. Daytime classes include those taught on Tuesday mornings by Margaret Chrystie, where part of the work is done in the studio and part in field trips. Mrs. Hill Kephart’s classes meet on alternate Thursday afternoons, for instructions in early American decoration, with special emphasis on tray painting and on the decoration of furniture.

Then there are three evening classes, among them the class taught by Reynolds C. Mason, in which some unusual talent has been developed among beginners. These classes are held on Thursday evening. On Tuesday evenings William Ferguson, who is critic rather than instructor, holds classes in oils, water colors, pastels and charcoal. On Wednesday evening there is available another class in tray painting, in addition to Mrs. Kephart’s, this one taught by Mrs. William C. Hurst. Mothers of young children and women emplyed during the daytime, are in the majority among those enrolled in Mrs. Hurst’s group.

The Art Center is now headed by one of its charter members, Arthur Edrop, of Radnor, as president. Vice-presidents include Miss Bernadine Tolan and John H. Ansley, of Wayne, and Mrs. W. N. Stilwell, of Radnor. Mrs. John J. Berg, of Wayne, is secretly of the board, while Mrs. Henry D. Booth, Jr., of St. Davids, is treasurer. Mrs. Davis W. Gregg, also of St. Davids, serves as executive secretary of the organization.

(To be continued)

The forming of Delaware County, part 7 (banks & newspapers)

Recent articles in this column have featured the churches and schools of Delaware County with particular reference to those that were established at an early date in the history of the county. These were our institutions of religion and of learning. Equally interesting are our business institutions, among them the banks.

The first bank to be chartered in this county after the “Omnibus Bank Bill” became a State law in March 1814 was teh Bank of Delaware County, doing business in Chester. After the formation of the county the need for banking facilities became evident. With Chester as the county seat and the commercial center of the community, its location there was an obvious one.

Early Swedish and Dutch settlers along the Delaware River found the Indians using a form of currency called wampum-peag. It consisted of white and dark purple beads, shells and stones in long strings. After the early colonists came, trade was conducted chiefly by the barter system. “Country money” consisted of furs, skins and country produce while “ready money” consisted of Spanish, Swedish, Dutch and New England coins.

There were 187 original shareholders from all sections of the county in the Bank of Delaware County when it was founded in 1814. Its first location was in Preston Eyre’s house on West Third street, Chester, where he had conducted a general store for some years. Within a few months’ time a house and lot were purchased on Market Square. After some alterations it was occupied by the bank and remained its home for almost 70 years. In 1864 it incorporated as “The Delaware County National Bank” and in 1882 a new building was erected on the old Market Square site. In 1928 it merged with the Pennsylvania National Bank of Chester and in 1933 a consolidation with the banking department of the Delaware County Trust Company was effected.

It was 50 years after the founding of this first Delaware County bank that in 1864 two more were started, the First National Bank of Chester and the First National Bank of Media, both organized under the National Bank Act passed by Congress in that year. Some 20 years and more later two others were organized, the Delaware County Trust Company, in 1885, and our own Wayne Title and Trust Company in 1890.

Soon after the turn of the century the First National Bank of Clifton Heights and the Swarthmore National Bank and Trust Company were incorporated, the former in 1902, the latter in 1904. Since then a number of other banking institutions have come into existence throughout the entire county.

As Delaware County grew in population and in business, its affairs were chronicled by the early newspapers or journals. The first of these was called the “Post Boy”, because it was delivered by post riders. This quaint old periodical, of which there are only four known copies in existence, was owned by Steuben Bulter and Elijhaleb B. Worthington. Nine years later, in 1826, it was renamed the “Upland Union”, continuing in operation under that title until 1852.

In 1828 a second journal, “The Weekly Visitor”, was established in Chester by William Russell. It was a short-lived publication, however, as it went out of business in 1832. With “The Weekly Visitor” press and equipment the “Delaware County Republican” was founded a year later in Darby. This paper adhered to the Whig principles for a time, later taking up the fight of the new Republican party. Having survived many changes in ownership and in name, it became a daily known as the “Morning Republican” in 1900. Twenty-three years later it merged with the well-known “Chester Times.”

The “Times” itself was founded in September, 1876, by Major John Hodgson, with the principle of stressing local news as its main tenet. By 1882 the Chester Times Publishing Company was formed by 15 leading Delaware County residents. First known as the “Daily Times”, it now became the “Chester Times” and under this name its real progress began. Through many years of changing ownership it continued in existence until November, 1941, when it suspended publication for a short time as the result of a strike of the editorial, advertising, business and circulation emplyes. Shortly thereafter, however, the business was reorganized by a company headed by Alfred G. Hill, of Topeka, Kansas, a veteran newspaperman, under whose direction the paper has reached a new peak of prosperity.

Another very early Delaware County newspaper was “The Delaware County Democrat”, founded in Chester in 1835. Some years later it merged with “The Pilot”, which was started in 1877. Many other newspapers, too numerous to name individually, were established in the county, most of them with but short terms of existence.

Of the more than 30 weeklies now published in Delaware county, only four were in existence before the turn of the century. Among them is “The Suburban”, founded in 1885. The others are “The Weekly Reporter”, a legal journal founded in 1881 and also published in Chester, and “The Rockdale Herald”, a Democratic weekly founded in 1898, and the “Darby Progress.”

In closing the series on the history of Delaware County, which has included something of its early settlers, its native Indians, Penn’s landing and home in Upland, the old mills and tanneries, and other industries, the historical churches and colleges, this columnist wishes to acknowledge once more her indebtedness to Nolan’s “Southeastern Pennsylvania” for much of her information.