The 1912 Harvest Home Fete, part 1 – “Walmarthon”, Charles S. Walton, the Neighborhood League

The sale of “Walmarthon”, the beautiful 41-acre estate of the late Charles S. Walton, to the Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary, as announced in “The Suburban” of April 27, stirs many memories among those who have lived in this vicinity since before 1913, the year that the 40-room house was built by one of Radnor township’s most prominent families. Perhaps the most vivid of these to the general public is that of the Harvest Home Fete given on the grounds of the Walton estate on October 14 and 15, 1915, two years after the completion of one of “the lordly castles of the Main Line.” It was the largest affair of the kind that had been given in the vicinity up to that time. And in the memory of this columnist there has never been one since to equal it.

Founded in 1912 by a group of public-spirited citizens with the purpose of improving the health and living conditions i this community, the Neighborhood League was an organization that needed both funds and the support of the community to carry on its fast-expanding program of activities that reached from Radnor to Paoli, out of a meeting in May, 1912. At the home on St. Davids road, formerly occupied by the Charles Waltons, had come the organization of the Neighborhood League. The family always lent its active support. When plans were made for a large money-making affair for the benefit of the League, it was the Waltons who offered the grounds of their beautiful new estate for that purpose. The object of the Harvest Home Fete, as stated in its extensive publicity, was “to aid the Neighborhood League, which is constantly lending a helping hand to the sick and needy from Radnor to Paoli.”

And in spite of inclement weather the Harvest Home Fete turned well over $3500 into the treasury of the league at the end of two days at the walton estate and a third day at the Saturday Club. Never have so many organizations cooperated on one local affair, never have so many individuals worked so faithfully and so long on any one project.

Heading the organization of the entire affair was Miss Grace Roberts, whose executive ability showed itself in her management of so many groups of people. There were all the churches of Wayne, the Nursing Committee of the Neighborhood League, the Bryn Mawr Social Service, the Garden Club, Saturday Club, the George W. Childs Library, Primary Class, Radnor Presbyterian Church, Friends Meeting, Men’s Club of Wayne, W. C. T. U., North Wayne Protective Association, Wayne Public Safety Association, Radnor Fire Company, Radnor Township Commissioners, Boy Scouts, Camp Fire Girls. Even some 36 years afterwards almost all of these organizations are in existence in Wayne. Two, however, are reminiscent of a time that is past, the Suffrage group and the Anti-Suffrage group! Both did their share at the fete. The Suffrage Party, headed by Miss Anna Atkinson, had charge of the “Baby Rest Tent” while the Anti-Suffrage Party, headed by Mrs. J. Gardner Cassatt, had the “Practical Booth”.

Assisting Miss Roberts on her executive committee were Mrs. Charles S. Walton, vice-chairman; Mrs. N. T. Brent, secretary; Miss Bertha G. Ball, assistant secretary and Dr. A. H. O’Neal as treasurer. Mrs. Louis J. Palmer, chairman of decorations; R. C. Ware, printing; A. M. Ehart, publicity; Mrs. W. H. Roberts, Jr., tickets; Mrs. Charles G. Tatnall, supper, and Mrs. Walter S. Yeatts, program. The long lists given in full in the program booklet of the Harvest Home Fete present a fascinating roster of names to anyone familiar with Wayne of the past and the present.

Advance publicity in the affair as given in “The Suburban”, as well as in the various Philadelphia newspapers of that era tell of many well-laid plans for the success of the big day. A Red Cross tent which had been obtained for the occasion by General T. E. Wiedersheim was to take care of any and all emergencies. Under the chairmanship of Mrs. Robert G. Wilson this would be “a retreat for anybody needing first aid.” Besides Mrs. Wilson, Mrs. John Moyer, Mrs. R. C. Hughes and Miss Lorean Fuller would be in attendance, all wearing the uniform of the different hospitals in which they received their training. Also connected with the Red Cross tent was a soda fountain, where Miss Dorothy Badger, assisted by Miss Dorothy Wolfe and Miss Toland would “dispense cooling drinks for the thirsty.”

“Ye Book Shop” was the name of the table sponsored by the Board of Managers of the George W. Childs Memorial Library, with Mrs. William V. Alexander as chairman, assisted by Mrs. W. W. Hearne, Mrs. David T. Dickson, Mrs. George H. Wilson, Mrs. George A. Shoemaker, Mrs. W. H. Sayen, Mrs. Sheldon Catlin, Mrs. J. Dutton Steele, Mrs. Theodore E. Wiedersheim and Mrs. Louis D. Erben. Here all manner of donated books were on sale.

The Parcel-post booth was in charge of St. Mary’s Church, with Mrs. Matthew Randall as chairman, assisted by Miss Fanny Wood, Miss Nancy Hallowell and Miss Florence Fulweller. “In appearance”, the parcel post station will be a brick building and distinguished from the others on that account” according to some of the advance publicity.

Indeed, so many and so varied were the attractions that an information bureau was set up near the main entrance of Walmarthon to direct visitors to the various booths. Here, too, was a large plan of the grounds, duplicated in smaller space on the back of the attractive programs printed for the occasion. A band of Camp Fire Girls, working under the direction of a committee headed by Miss Agnes Nichols, were to act as guides.

For these many attractions and others that will be described in this column such a large attendance was anticipated that “five large barges” were to be kept in service steadily between the St. Davids station and Walmarthon. Those were the days when both horse-drawn vehicles and automobiles were on the road. Colonel William H. Sayen, the president of the Radnor Township Board of Commissioners, promised “ample police aid–especially in the matter of supervising the parking of automobiles,” which would be accommodated in a field close by.

(To be continued)

The Wayne Art Center, part 6

Over the entire 20 years of the Wayne Art Center’s existence, its sponsors have maintained a continuous bond of interest between the public and the active members through lectures of such general interest that they have brought to the Art Center many who would otherwise know little of the organization and its work.

Illustrative of what the Art Center has endeavored to do are a few names chosen at random from the long list that stretches through the years. Some have already been mentioned. Among those who have not, are Stanley Muschamp, well-known voice teacher who gave a recital of his own songs; Edward Muschamp, author of “Audacious Audubon”; Henry Worlman, Boy Scout leader and sponsor of the famous Horse Shoe Trails; Eric Knight, distinguished autor and commentator; Sasha Siemel, big game hunter; Hester Cunningham, textile design and paints; Peter Nolan, soldier and authority on Kipling; Don Rose, columnist of the “Evening Bulletin”; Giuseppe Donato and Aurello Renzetti, sculptors; Dmitri White, sailor, soldier and author of “Survival”; Ida Pruitt, author of books on China, and translator of the works of Chinese authors; Thornton Oakley, illustrator and designer; Richard T. Dooner, photographer and Virginia Armitage McCall, artist and winner of the 1946 Gimbel Award, who is well-known for her work with plastic surgeons at Valley Forge General Hospital.

These men and women are top flight specialists in their various fields. And there have been so many others, equally well known. Some lectures represent the type of service to the community that the Art Center considers an essential part of their yearly program, and one that they aspire to incorporate in all plans for future activities.

As we close this series of articles on the Art Center it is interesting to note what some of its board members consider the outstanding contributions that their organization is making to the members of its many classes and to the community. In defining the Art Center, its president, Arthur Edrop, says:

“It is a non-profit organization, its only purpose to serve the community. It is maintained by its membership dues, its tuition fees and some donations from public-spirited citizens. It has carried on its work in the face of mounting costs and exceptionally heavy expenses. Its members and its Board of Directors do not ‘sit deedless’, but do everything possible to develop and stimulate interest in the arts and in the well-being of their fellows. Many of the members take advantage of the classes and of the fine corps of instructors to use their free time creatively. Others find pleasure and instruction in the lectures and exhibitions. Many young people are joining, and they are putting their life into an organization that is soon now to come of age. Although there are many professionals among its members, there are other people who have never drawn or painted before.”

Mr. Edrop is a charter member, as is Mrs. W. N. Stilwell, one of the four vice-presidents. The latter, in commenting on the Art Center’s place in the community, calls attention to the fact that during the war, the organization carried on its activities in spite of many difficulties, among them gas shortage. What it had to offer then was perhaps more important than at any other time since those days of the depression, when it was founded. During the war it offered a refuge to many who needed the relaxation that only creative work can give. To the weary and the heavy-hearted it was often a haven where the things that troubled them might be put aside for a few brief hours.

Further enlarging on this thought as it applies to the Art Center, not only during the war, but for all the time of its existence, including the present, Mrs. John Berg believes that it is an organization that “brings out the best in people.” Those who are blessed with much of the world’s goods and those who are blessed with little are “all levelled by the common denominator of seeking to develop the talent they share in common.” And “that”, adds Mrs. Berg, “is democracy, isn’t it?” Mrs. Berg, one of the younger group whom Mr. Edrop describes as “putting new life into the organization”, describes herself as “a complete outsider drawn to the group because of my love of the community.” The Art Center she thinks of as a place where “people put aside, when they enter, what is important to them in a material way, and go out full of the zest of accomplishing the things that are so close to their hearts.”

Miss Bernadine Tolan, a vice-president who has been interested in the Art Center since its earliest days, speaks with enthusiasm of the wide variety of its classes and of the excellence of its teaching staff. Particularly she would call attention to the children’s class held for many years on Saturday mornings, when there is always an overflow of enthusiastic attendance. This class is taught by Elizabeth R. Hoffman, assisted by Mrs. Russell Moore.

All who work now with the Art Center would pay tribute to those, who by their labors in the past, have made the present organization possible, particularly to those who are no longer with them save in the spirit. Miss Mary L. Walsh was a leader in the days of its organization, and its first president. Oswald Chew was another early president who contributed much time and interest. Henrietta McClure, herself a professional artist of note, taught many classes throughout the years until her recent death. Louise Tolan, who has been called “the life of the whole Art Center” by those who knew of her untiring efforts on its behalf, particularly in the management of the June Fetes, will always be remembered.

As this series closes, your columnist realizes that much that should have been said has of necessity been omitted, particularly concerning the interesting group of professional teachers who are at the Art Center this season. However, this omission may easily be remedied by direct contact with the Art Center on the part of those who are interested in its work.

A wealth of records has been placed at your columnist’s disposal. And for these and for many personal contacts she is indebted to the members of the Board of the Art Center.


The Wayne Art Center, part 5

That first garden party of the Wayne Art Center, which was held in June, 1933 in the third summer of that organization’s existence, thereafter became an annual affair. And it was but a summer of two years ago that for various reasons it was discontinued. The 1933 party was held in the lovely gardens of Dr. and Mrs. Henry G. Fischer, on Bloomingdale avenue, with Mrs. W. N. Stillwell as general chairman. For several years the H. B. Powell place on Windermere avenue formed the background for these garden parties.

Then one summer Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Tolan and Mr. and Mrs. Frank W. Conner, who lived in adjoining houses on Upland way, were joint hosts at the Art Center party. In the summer of 1938 the garden party was held for the first time in its own “front yard”, the spacious grounds of Mrs. Craig Atmore’s home on Louella avenue, with the garage studio forming the picturesque background for the party. As the years went by, this became its permanent location, sometimes supplemented by the adjoining lawn of Mr. and Mrs. E. H. P. Fronefield.

These affairs came to be big summer events for children as well as adults. Held always on a Saturday afternoon in June, sunny skies were eagerly anticipated by hundreds of people who were interested in the various kinds of entertainment that were offered. Usually there was a buffet supper served on the lawn as the twilight shadows fell. And always there were games and booths at which various articles were sold. Usually there were pony rides, a fish pond, a fortune teller, a “Flea Market,” an auction and a small animal zoo. Some years there were plays in which children were the actors, “Alice Through the Looking Glass”, given in June, 1941, being a typical one.

Nostalgic memories of these picturesque affairs, as seen through the eyes of a yearly visitor, are stirred in your columnist’s mind as she looks through the Art Center’s old scrap books with their various newspaper clippings and their kodak pictures. Many of the same names appear on the roster from year to year. They are the names of women who worked long and hard that the Art Center treasury should be enriched each summer in order that the winter classes might be continued. Although it is impossible to list these names, since there are so many of them, it is but fitting to give recognition to the late Mrs. Clarence Tolan, since no one among the Art Center members worked more faithfully from year to year than she did. Mrs. Tolan, who was one of the charter members of the organization, was one of its early treasurers and later its president.

Another part of the Art Center’s yearly program has been its consistent featuring of the work of its students, through many exhibitions. The very first one was held in September, 1931, following the summer when 119 children and 17 adults were enrolled in its classes in the garage of the Powell place. It was called “Wayne’s first exhibition of Art” and the public was reminded that “it is the children who are leading us.” Intended principally for the parents of these children, it drew large crowds of visitors, many of them of professional standing. It was tribute indeed to those who had pioneered in this enterprise, among them the late Mrs. Charles A. McClure, of Wayne, a well-known artist who was an untiring teacher at the Art Center for many years.

The first exhibition was but the forerunner of the many that were to follow in the 20 years since the Art Center was founded. Later exhibitions featured much more of the work of adults than did that first one. Media included oils, water colors, pastel, charcoal and pen and ink. Sculpture exhibits also proved interesting as did those featuring ceramics.

At present there are two regularly scheduled exhibitions each year, one in May and the other in November. The former is held at the Studio, when the work of the exhibitors is subject to the approval of a jury of outsiders. The later is held on Election Day and is sponsored by the Saturday Club., in whose Club House the paintings and other works of art are put on exhibition. This is quite a party day for both organizations, when tea is served throughout the afternoon for all comers, among them many men, home because of the Election Day holiday.
A special children’s exhibition is staged each year at the Studio. The work of these young artists is also shown from time to time at the Radnor Township Memorial Library, and sometimes even finds its way to exhibitions held in Philadelphia. The Art Center is regularly represented at the regional shows of the Woodmere Galleries by invitation of that organization.

No other local organization has brought to Wayne speakers on such diversified subjects as has the Art Center. Their lectures, always open to the public, have included those of men and women distinguished along many lines.

Among the countless projects of Wayne’s own art organization that may have been forgotten by some is the class in woodworking and carpentry that met in the 1935-36 season in the carpentry shop at Radnor High School. Any one “with a hankering for self-expression in wood” was eligible to join for a very moderate fee. James B. Ives was chairman of this interesting project which provided much diversion for spare time and produced some worthwhile pieces of furniture.

Miss Mary L. Walsh was The Art Center’s first president, serving in that capacity until December, 1935, when she was succeeded by Charles A. McClure. Other presidents have included Frederick Richardson, Oswald Chew, Mrs. Clarence Tolan, Paul Davis, Mrs. Frank W. Conner and the present incumbent, Arthur Edrop.

(To be concluded)

The Wayne Art Center, part 4

The second summer of the Wayne Art Center, that of 1932, proved as successful as that of 1931, when 136 children and adults were enrolled. In all there were five classes, including one for younger children, taught by Lawrence Taylor, another for older children, with William H. Lister as instructor and still another for women and older children, taught by Mrs. Charles A. McClure. These were all morning classes. In addition, Mr. lister taught drawing, painting and pastel one evening a week, while George Borst instructed a class in modeling and sculpture on still another evening.

This summer session was the last in these picturesque quarters, however. By fall, the officers and directors of the Art Center knew that their budget would not permit a monthly rental, no matter how small. Application was made to the Carnegie Corporation for possible financial help. Their reply noted regret, but stated that the year was one “when a great many requests were being made, and the appropriations in the field of the arts are necessarily being curtailed.” In October the Radnor Township School Board granted permission for the use of one of the rooms in the wayne School building for the sessions of the Art Center. Within a few weeks’ time, classes were under way in the Art Room of the High School. And until Mrs. Craig Atmore made her garage on her Louella avenue property available to the Art Center, the school continued to be its headquarters.

Activities of the organization were not confined to its classes, however. By the spring of 1932, the first of its long series of educational talks was scheduled, while June, 1933, saw the first of the many delightful garden parties that the forthcoming summer were to produce.

In August the Rev. Henry Mitchell gave a reading of “Enoch Arden”, under the auspices of the Art Center. This was presented with a musical accompaniment by Richard Strauss and was played by Miss Katharine Sixt. The reading was given at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Rufus Waples, who then lived at 214 Windermere avenue.

A lecture on “Prints”, given in September, was scheduled for the High School auditorium. This lecture had been written by William M. Lorus Jr., curator of Prints at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and was supplemented by a number of lantern slides explaining what really constitutes merit in a print. In addition there were four reels of moving pictures from the University Film Foundation illustrating the technique of etching, beginning with the pencil sketch and continuing through the various phases to the “pulling of the proof.”

A man locally famous for the windows in the Washington Memorial Chapel at Valley Forge and the Nevil Memorial Church of St. George, in Ardmore, was chosen for the next lecture which was not given until January, 1933. He was the well-known Nicole d’Ascenzo, of Philadelphia, who had accepted the invitation to speak before a Wayne Art Center audience because of his “realization that communities such as this Wayne of ours are encouraging . . . an awakening appreciation of the beautiful in the minds of men.” A capacity audience in the Radnor High School library greeted this well-known creator of the window “Revolution” in Washington Memorial Chapel, as he traced the development of the art industry in England and on the Continent. Slides of his own masterpieces and samples of glass were used by way of illustration.

The next speaker was one of even closer local interest, when in March Oscar Doyle Johnson, of St. Davids, spoke on the “Aesthetic Value of Italian Primitives.” Mr. Johnson, a writer of versatility, then lived with his parents, whose collection of paintings in their St. Davids home was always so generously shared with any in the community who were interested in seeing them. Mr. Johnson’s opening lecture period was so interesting that plans were immediately made for a weekly series of informal talks and discussions on Italian painting to be led by him. These were held in the library of the High School during the spring of 1933.

And then in June came the first garden party of the many that were to be sponsored by the Art Center. Held in the garden of the home of Dr. and Mrs. H. G. Fischer on Bloomingdale avenue, the party featured an outdoor exhibition of the work of the students in addition to its many novel features of entertainment.

(To be continued)