The Saturday Club – the Musical Coterie of Wayne

The Book of Programs compiled by the Musical Coterie from its files covering a period of 15 years was a noteworthy achievement. Published in 1925 and copyrighted by Miss H. Velma Turner, the book received favorable comment from many sources, selling throughout the entire United States. Among those who enthusiastically endorsed it were George C. Gow, head of the department of music at Vassar College and Helen Pulaski Innes, conductor of the Matinee Musical Club Chorus of Philadelphia.

The book was most convenient in size and makeup. Measuring six by eight inches with table of contents and complete index, the 116 programs contained in it were arranged according to periods, nationalities and individual composers. There were more than 300 of these composers, and made up of all nationalities, its scope ranged from early Italian music to that of the ultra-modern French and Russian.

Of the general work of the Coterie at the time this book was published, Stanley Neuschamp, in a special feature article written for the Philadelphia Inquirer in June, 1925, says: “All of the good work in the case of music is not the result alone of the playing of the large orchestras, nor the singing of the great opera companies. It is well within the domains of the smaller organizations and the music clubs to foster a love for music and to cultivate it.

“The Musical Coterie of Wayne, our suburban neighbor, has been studying the master-musicians and their works for 15 years, during which time they have covered enormous areas of musical ground. The recording officer, Miss H. Velma Turner, has kept a record of their meetings. These records, consisting of programmes presented during the 15 years now ending, cover the subject of the nationalistic and racialistic in music; the classic, romantic and modern periods, and conclude with a series of programmes each devoted exclusively to the works of one composer.”

Another noteworthy achievement of the Musical Coterie was the establishment of a Memorial Library in 1929 to honor the deceased members of the organization. The books, chosen with much thought, included those of biography, of history of music, or symphonies; indeed all manner of musical literature. There were also bound volumes of vocal music and piano music. All these have been housed for some time in the Memorial Library of Radnor Township, where they are available not only to Coterie members, but to Library members as well. The Library also devotes several shelves to vocal scores.

Book plates for the books given in memory of deceased Coterie members were designed by Miss Lecian von Bernuth, of Strafford. The latter has made “an exquisite adaptation of the Melozza da Forte angel of the vatican collection,” an adaptation which “has conveyed in feeling manner the spirit of reverence so in keeping with a memorial of his kind.”

Each book plate bears the name of the Coterie member whose memory it has been given. Among these names are those of Mrs. Robert LeBoutillier, Mrs. Charles Walton, Mrs. Parke Schoch, Mrs. John Dunlap, Mrs. Joseph Clegy, Mrs. Spiers and Mrs. R. E. Hinkel. Miss Turner had much to do with the original selection of books, and served as Coterie Librarian for some time. Among others who have served in this capacity are Miss Alvira Echert and more recently, Mrs. G. Rishton Howell.

The chorus of the Coterie has always been one of the main features of programs given for the public. On several occasions the organization has also sponsored mixed choruses, one of the long remembered of these occasions being an evening party at the LeBoutillier home when the Euterpean joined forces with the Coterie. The Euterpean was for many years an outstanding men’s musical group in Wayne. The name of William Bentz is one always remembered by early Coterie chorus members. “Community Sings” at the High School were one of the means of offsetting the effects of “the depression” on the community.

The Junior Musical Coterie was established in 1926 as a means of developing and giving expression to the talents of youngsters of the community. Programs were given by the members ranging in age from six to sixteen years. On some of them from time to time great artists explained various musical instruments to their youthful listeners and then presented numbers in explanation. Mrs. Robert P. Elmer and Miss Turner had much to do with the early development of the Junior Musical Coterie, which today is a flourishing branch of the parent organization, giving concerts of its own at regular intervals.

Early in its career the Coterie joined the Pennsylvania Federation of Music Clibs, one of those presidents was said in writing to Miss Lillian Walter during her Coterie presidency, “Your club has been one of the outstanding clubs in the Federation, and its splendid achievements have been noted all over the state and nation . . . It is through contact with such club as yours that we grow in national work, generating new ideas.”

It was during the presidency of Mrs. Thomas Blackadder, which extended from 1935-1937 that the Coterie celebrated the 25th anniversary of its founding with a dinner held at the Aronimink Golf Glub, when guests included Coterie husbands.

Mrs. Humbert B. Powell was the Coterie’s first president, with an eight year term of office lasting from 1911 to 1919. She was followed by many noteworthy successors, including Mrs. Jessie Fulweller Spiers, Miss H. Velma Turner, Mrs. Charles H. Howson, Mrs. Winfield W. Crawford, Mrs. E. Bisbee Warner, Mrs. Thomas E. Walton, Miss Lillian A. Walter, Mrs. George P. Orr, Mrs. Thomas Blackadder, Miss Gladys Lawton, mrs. F. Ashby Wallace, Mrs. L. Wayne Arny, Mrs. G. Rushton Howell, Mrs. Spencer V. Smith, Mrs. Wesley P. Dunnington and Mrs. Esmond R. Long the incumbent.

Other officers in addition to Mrs. Long include Mrs. Alfred N. Watson, vice-president; Mrs. E. D. Ziegler, recording secretary; Mrs. George V. Woodrow, corresponding secretary, and Miss Margaret Howson, treasurer. Directors include Mrs. Richard H. Clare, Miss Gladys Lawton, Mrs. Roy Fuller and Mrs. A. B. Wheeler. Committee chairmen are Mrs. Dunnington, program; Mrs. Hugh H. Spencer, Junior Coterie; Mrs. Spencer V. Smith, Librarian; Mrs. Orrin C. Knudsen, String Ensemble; Mrs. Wheeler, Chorus; Mrs. Watson, membership; Mrs. Blackadder, publicity and Mrs. Wallace, Camp and Hospital.

Meetings are held on the third Monday afternoon of each month at the homes of various members. The Christmas Concert is always an evening affair, held in conjunction with the Saturday Club. The Spring Concert is another large affair while the annual meeting, followed by a musical program, closes the season.

A quotation from Elbert Hubbard heads the season’s printed program for the year:

“Art is not a thing separate and apart–art is only the beautiful way of doing things.”


A Happy New year to all the readers of this column from Mrs. Patterson!

The Saturday Club – original history and Christmas 1951

In the month of the Christ Child’s birth, our hearts turn with reverence tot he simple beauty of that far away scene, when in the lowly manger, “The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head.” Now, almost 2000 years later, in times of such fears and forebodings as the world has never before known, the hearts of mankind turn to that scene in humble supplication, that there may yet be a time of “peace on earth, good will to men.”

Except in our churches, there are, perhaps, no times when groups of people can feel this unanimity of Christian hope so strongly as they do when they come together for a presentation of Christmas music. Many in the audience assembled in the Saturday Club on Tuesday evening of last week for the Musical Coterie Christmas Concert must have felt this, when at the close oft he program, all were asked to join in the singing of Christmas carols. As voices rose in the lovely strains of such old favorites as “Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful” and “O, Littls Town of Bethlehem”, all could feel the upsurging of hope for real peace on earth that to all Christians is symbolized by Christ’s Birth.

This Christmas concert is now an annual event to which the community is always welcomed. Started some years ago by the Musical Coterie, Wayne’s oldest extant musical organization, it is now a joint affair of the Coterie and the Saturday Club. This year’s program opened, as it usually does, with a group of Christmas songs, sung by the chorus. After several piano solos, a string ensemble number and one of vocal solos, the chorus again made its appearance to close the foremost program before the general singing of Christmas carols. The Concert is, in truth, a real contribution to the community.

On February 10 of the coming year, the Coterie will celebrate 41 years of continuous activity, having been organized in 1911 at the home of Mrs. Humbert Borton Powell, The Powells then lived in the large yellow house on the north side of the 200 block of Windermere avenue, which was their home for many years before they moved to Devon.

Mrs. Powell was the newly-formed organization’s first president, serving for the first eight years of its existence from 1911 to 1919. Other charter members were Mrs. Robert LeBoutillier, Mrs. Charles Walton, Mrs. Chlarles C. Shoemaker, Mrs. David Hoopes, Mrs. Frederick P. Ristine, Mrs. Sheldon Catlin, Miss H. Velma Turner, Mrs. W. H. Sayen, Miss Marguerite Elder, Mrs. Rufus Waples, Miss Grace C. Roberts and Mrs. Thomas E. Walton. Others among the community’s musically talented residents soon joined these original 13, until shortly thereafter some 50 women were in active membership.

In 1911, as in 1951, there were many women in Wayne and its general vicinity who had had extensive musical training. Many of them were married women with young children, who, without some direct incentive and objective, found it more than difficult to continue their musical activities. Among older women in the group Mrs. Walton and Mrs. LeBoutiller were, perhaps, especially inspirational in their leadership, and in planning ways and means by which all the members of the newly-formed Coterie should find expression for their talents. Or Mrs. LeBoutillier, one of the club’s charter members recently said to your columnist: “Her idea was to present a worthwhile musical number, no matter what the seeming difficulties were. If two hands were not enough, then get four hands, or even six . . . if one piano did not suffice, then get two.”

There was never any thought of exploiting the individual with talent. Rather, it was to benefit the group by presenting opportunity for all to take part in the presentation of programs and to participate in the study groups. At first, only women who were willing to take part in programs, either by performing or by writing papers, were asked to join.

Later, those who were to be listeners only were admitted, thus greatly enlarging the membership as well as altering the original character and purpose of this musical organization. As time passed, membership became more geographically extended. Largely local to Wayne in the beginning, it now embraces the entire Main Line, as well as a number of its neighboring suburbs. It is still essentially of Wayne, however, always retaining its original name of Wayne Musical Coterie.

Although primarily a woman’s organization, it has at times had men soloists on its programs and at other times has joined with men’s choruses. In 1926 the Junior Section of the Coterie was formed to further the mutual interest of talented children of the community.

Among notable achievements of the musical group was the publication in 1925 of a book of programs compiled from those presented during the first 15 years of the Coterie existence. In 1929 a Memorial Library was established, with each volume in it given in memory of a deceased member of the organization. Neither wars nor depressions have called a halt to its existence, which ahs now been one of more than 40 years’ continuity.

(To be Continued)

A Merry Christmas from Mrs. Patterson to all the readers of this column, whose interest is a great inspiration in preparing her material for presenting Wayne and its environs, both of the past and of the present. To these readers, an especial thanks for the almost daily expressions of their interest. Again, Merry Christmas. E. C. P.

The Book “Our Pennsylvania”, part 3 – Tinicumn, Fort New Gothenburg, Pritnz

Scanning in retrospect in her mind’s eye a number of books on the history of Pennsylvania which this writer has perused more or less thoroughly in assembling the material for this column, few, if any, have for her the warmth of appeal that is contained in “Our Pennsylvania”. Written by our Main Line neighbor, Amy Oakley, and illustrated by her artist husband, Thornton Oakley, often referred to as “T.O.”, it somehow inspires in its readers the desier to traverse the roads the Oakleys have traversed, and to see the sights which they have seen. Certainly this will be done with a deeper understanding of the historic past, and a keen appreciation of the present, if these readers remember what Mrs. Oakley has written.

Nowhere, perhaps, is her deep-seated affection for her native state more manifest than in the chapter on “The Glorious Delaware”. Her pride in the history of “a waterway that, for the early settlers, was a thoroughfare comparable tot eh Saint Lawrence to the colonists of Quebec” is something that she communicates to those among her readers who call this general section of Southeastern Pennsylvania “home”. And from a purely practical point of view this chapter is a concise guide book to point of nearby historic interest accessible to the automobilist.

To most of us the City of Chester is a thriving industrial center famous for its shipyards. So modern is it that perhaps few among us realize as we drive hurriedly along its busy streets that it is the second oldest settlement in Pennsylvania, with still a few reminders in it of those early days in the middle 1600’s when it was called Upland. It was in 1644 that it was founded by the Swedes, just a year after Fort New Gothenburg was erected on neighboring Tinicum Island. “Here at Tinicum”, according to Mrs. Oakley, “were established the first court, church and schoolhouse in present Pennsylvania. The wedding of Armegat, the governor’s daughter, to Lieutenant John Papegoya, commander of Fort Christina, was the first marriage of Europeans within the borders of our State”.

In what is now known as Governor Printz Park the foundations of the fabulous Printzhof, the capitol-residence established by John Printz has been excavated, though nothing has been done in the way of reconstructing that historic building. This foundation with the original steps leading down to the river may be viewed by sightseers interested in the historic past of our great state.

One of the few surviving log cabins of those early New Sweden colonists stands in the borough of Prospect Park, not far from Tinicum. it is known as the John Morton Homestead and belongs to the Commonwealth, as does Governor Printz Park, Morten Mortenson, who arrived in America from Sweden in 1654, was the builder of part of this log cabin, to which was later joined a second log house constructed by his son, grandfather of John Morton, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

“As the birthplace of this distinguished Swedish descendant, whose vote, in June 1776 ‘with those of Benjamin Franklin and James Wilson swung Pennsylvania tot eh side of independence by a majority of one’, the building has become a national shrine.” A charming sketch of John Morton’s homestead, as made by Mr. Oakley, illustrtes this part of the chapter on the “Glorious Delaware.”

Other Historic point of interest in Chester are the Penn Memorial Stone, at the northeast corner of Front and Penn Streets. THis marks the first landing place of William Penn in October, 1682. The site of the residence of Robert Wade, where Penn spent his first night ashore, also has its marks. Wade was the first Quaker to settle in Pennsylvania.

Mrs. Oakley’s description of “Pennsburg”, Penn’s manor house built in 1683 and recreated in 1938 by Brognard Okie, should inspire many an automobilist to take Route 13 “which skirts the river from Philadelphia to the Trenton bridge, and has been known since 1677 as the ‘King’s Highway’.” After going through what was once known as “Penn’s Sylvania”, where centuries-old buttonwoods spoke to the Oakleys of a time long past, they came on this “crisp day of early December”, on an inlet of the Delaware where “thousands of ducks, southward bound, floated, rose on the wing, swerved, or settled amid a restless honking host . . . ”

Here in Falls Township, Bucks County, is Pennsburg, William Penn’s country home, built in 1683-1700, now administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. On the left, as the Oakleys approached the manor house itself, are “orchard, vineyard, kitchen and herb garden, ice house, office, smoke house, brew house . . . adjoining are ample kitchen and bakery with ovens so vast that it took two days to heat them. Food, as at Mount Vernon, was carried across an outdoor path to the lordly dining room.”

The description of the lovely interior of Pennsburg is fascination enough to lure any sightseer to this beautifully reconstructed mansion with its authenticated furnishings of the period in which William Penn lived there. “Wrought iron nails are visible in the wide-boarded floors, for which primeval oaks were sought”, according to Mrs. Oakley’s description, which continues: “Elegance marks the mansion furniture and the crimson brocade of window hangings . . . across the hall the wainscoted dining room, with refectory table and massive Dutch chairs . . . above the dining room is a guest room, impressive with canopied four-post bedstead and especially noted for its highboy, one of the original Penn pieces for which millionaires have offered fabulous sums.”

Pursuing their way upriver to Washington’s Crossing, the Oakleys came to the marker that commemorates the spot where Washington crossed the Delaware on Christmas night, 1776, the eve of the Battle of Trenton. on their way to Bowman’s Hill Tower, with its view of the New Jersey shore, they stopped to admire the recently restored Thompson-Neely mansion where General Washington discussed plans for an offensive with some of his officers.

Beyond Washington Crossing lies New Hope with its many old homesteads amid the beauty of the surrounding scenery. The settlement is now one of painters, writers and musicians, Here, too, is the quaint old Delaware Canal, construction of which was begun in 1827. Two sketches by Mr. Oakley, one of the “Delaware Canal” and the other of “Mules on the towpath” add further interest to this part of the chapter . . . “New Hope is among the chosen places to which an artist never says good-bye, but always au revoir,” Mrs. Oakley says of this lovely artist colony spot as she passes on to description of more distant spots.

So much of “our” part of Pennsylvania. Before the close of their book, the Oakleys have covered the length and breadth of the State by way of description and illustration. This brief resume of some of the early chapters has been given with the hope that some of the readers of this column may be inspired to see for themselves more of the lovely surrounding countryside and of the many historical sites and edifices in our immediate vicinity.

The Book “Our Pennsylvania”, part 2 – Old St. David’s Church, Wayne Family, old inns, Longwood and its gardens

A charming sketch of “Old St. David’s at Radnor”, where Amy Oakley’s grandmother came so faithfully with “her little brood” each Sunday, illustrates the chapter on “The Main Line and Valley Forge” in the Oakley’s book of “Our Pennsylvania”.

Few, if any, among the readers of this column have failed to visit this historic spot. To many it is a pilgrimage frequently made. Most famous of the many graves in the churchyard that surrounds the little stone edifice on three sides, is that of Mad Anthony Wayne, for whom our community is named. His “madness”, comments Mrs. Oakley, “consisted of fearlessness”. Standing but a few miles from St. David’s Church is “Waynesborough”, where Anthony Wayne was born in 1745. Begun by his grandfather in 1724, and added to in 1765, the original house is still occupied by a descendant of the Wayne famly.

Another old church in our immediate vicinity of which Mrs. Oakley writes and of which her husband has made a delightful sketch, is Radnor Friends’ Meeting House, “dominant above Ithan Creek” on Conestoga road at Ithan. Dating form 1718, this house of worship was used as quarters for officers during the Revolutionary War as well as for a soldiers’ hospital with food and fuel supplied by Radnor Friends. Since 1939 the structure has housed the Radnor United Monthly Meeting.

As the Oakleys traverse this general vicinity they recall the old grist mills once so abundant in the neighborhood. One still in operation is the Great Valley Mill established in 1710 on North Valley road in Paoli. On the estate connected with it are the famous rock gardens known to many of us as the property of Mr. and Mrs. Robert H. Colley. Other rapidly vanishing landmarks of the Main Line are the taverns which “once punctuated every mile of the coach road to Lancaster.” The Old Buch at Haverford, while still in good repair, is no longer an inn, nor is the General Warren at Malvern. The “hoary Sorrel Horse”, at Ithan, built in 1768, Mrs. Oakley recalls to our memories as an historic hostelry which often sheltered Washington and Lafayette. It is now a private house. The General Wayne Inn, which adjoins Merion Friends’ Meeting, still fulfills its original purpose.

Several pages of “Our Pennsylvania” are devoted to Valley Forge Park, site of the winter encampment of General George Washington and the Continental Army in 1777-1778. Even more familiar to most of our readers than the winter scene at Valley Forge is that of the blooming of dogwood there, which, according to tradition should begin on the tenth of May. It was from Valley Forge stock that the first pink dogwood was developed, according to Mrs. Oakley, “the white being a wide-spread native of the hills of Pennsylvania”. As all of us who have ever attempted a pilgrimage by automobile to Valley Forge in May recall, it is then that “cars from every state converge to see the glory of the hills bathed in clouds of pink and white”.

From the chapter on “The Main Line and Valley Forge”, the Oakleys pass on to one entitled “Vignettes of Chester County”. An exquisite full length sketch of the Mill at Chadds Ford with Howard Pyle in the foreground prefaces this chapter which is headed by a smaller sketch of the oldest house in Downingtown. This is a log cabin, said to date from about 1710, though many believe, Mrs. Oakley tells us, that “from its expert construction . . . it may have been erected still earlier by the Swedes, who introduced the log house with mortised corners into this continent”. Downingtown takes its name from an old grist mill, dating from 1739, owned by one Thomas Downing, a Quaker.

West Chester, linked with East Downington “by a road through rural pasture where contented Holsteins chew their cud in meadows beside the Brandywine”, is next on the Oakley itinerary. Originally a little village known as Turks Head, its well known tavern, West Chester “has been the seat of Chester County since 1786. It was two years later that it changed its original name to its later one, adopting the name of West Chester, since it was “west of Chester”. Among its present points of interest, Mrs. Oakley enumerates State Teachers College, Westtown School and Cheyney State Teachers College, founded by Quakers as an institution for colored youth.

On the east bank of the Brandywine is the Village of Chadds Ford, named for John Chad (original spelling), who established a ferry there in 1737. The original Chad homestead is the subject of a well known painting by a Chadds Ford native, Andrew Wyeth, son of N. C. Wyeth, the late distinguished illustrator and mural painter.

Among the illustrations for this chapter on Chester County is one of the quaint old octagonal school house at Birmingham Meeting, near Chadds Ford. This school building dates back to 1753. Like Kennett Meeting House, Birmingham Meeting was in the historic battle area. Nearby Kennett Square is a flourishing present day community known as the largest mushroom-growing area in the United States.

A description of Longwood concludes this Chester County chapter. According to Mrs. Oakley “it rivals Verailles as to gardens and fountains, while the conservatory in its vast extent and the glory of its floral contents seems unbelievable–the ultimate creation of a conjurer’s wand”. An interesting historical note in connection with Longwood is that the original land was conveyed by William Penn to George Pierce whose son built the house occupied by the present owner, though now doubled in size by the addition of a twin mansion. According to our historian, the “long wood”, from which the early Quakers took the name, has largely disappeared, but many of the rare trees date back to plantings made in 1800 by the Pierces.

Our own historic Delaware County comes next on the Oakley itinerary before they leave this general vicinity for more distant parts of “Our Pennsylvania”.

(To be Continued)