Finley House, other old buildings – Radnor Baptist Church (1st Baptist)

Another farm which Joseph M. Fronefield, Jr., describes in his chronicle of early Wayne days from which I quoted at length last week, is the Ramsey place, which has been mentioned earlier in this column. Situated in North Wayne on what is now Bellevue avenue, the lovely old farm house remains, much as it was when it was built in 1789. Occupied by Miss Dorothy Finley, one room is now the headquarters of the Radnor Historical Society.

Miss Finley tells me that when her family acquired it in 1889 the original old barn was then standing. Her father had it torn down but the stone in it was used to build the addition on the north side of the house. The room which houses the treasures now being acquired by the Historical Society was the basement kitchen of the original old house.

Of the Ramsey place, Mr. Fronefield writes “North of the railroad was the Ramsey farm, the house now being the home of W. H. Finley. Its entrance was from Eagle road. Many times during the winter Eagle road was so blocked with snow that the occupants of this farm had to cross the railroad tracks and the Jones farm to the Lancaster Pike.”

“There was also an old stone farm house standing at what is now the corner of Walnut avenue and Oak lane. The spring house on the property is now in the rear of the home of Dr. Smith.” (This property is now owned by C. W. T. Stuart and the spring house is clearly visible to the passerby as he turns off Walnut avenue onto Oak lane.)

Of the old buildings of that period Mr. Fronefield describes the Radnor Baptist Church as “a rectangular building, with its sheds close by on the corner of Conestoga road and Hall lane. This building was replaced after some years by the present building and the name changed to the First Baptist Church of Wayne.” Although long vacant now, the old church building still stands on Conestoga road. Even before the original building became a church, Mr. Fronefield states it was a public hall known as Radnor Hall. From this building Hall lane took its name. As it went in a northeasterly direction from the old church the lane “passed over the ground where Lienhardt’s store and La Dow’s drugstore now stand, crossed Lancaster Pike diagonally, passed over the ground upon which the Presbyterian Church now stands and terminated at the station which was close to the point where the back of the Waynewood Hotel now stands.” (La Dow’s drugstore is now the Sun Ray Store, and the Waynewood Hotel is now called the Wayne Hotel).

“The old presbyterian Church was standing on the east side of the station road with its sheds on the west side” according to Mr. Fronefield. This first church building still stands to the east of the present Presbyterian Church and is known as the Chapel. In 1870 it was given to the charter members by one of Wayne’s most distinguished citizens, J. Henry Askin, whose home “Louella House” has already been described in this column. The present church building was erected in 1890 and the present Church School was added in 1922.

Other buildings of that early period included “the Radnor Lyceum Hall, a frame building which stood on the north side of the Lancaster Pike, east of the point where Pembroke avenue now crosses it. This old building can be credited with the birth of Radnor Library (afterwards known as the George W. Childs Library and the Wayne Library), the Wayne Building and Loan Association and the Merryvale Athletic Association, afterwards changed to the Radnor Cricket Club.”

Mr. Fronefield’s description continues “a fine old, stone house, known as the Manley House, stood on the eastern end of the Louella grounds and near the railroad. This house was occupied by J. H. Askin before building Louella House . . . it was subsequently torn down.

“The large farm barns, of which there were two with the Askin farm, stood on the north side of Lancaster Pike, one about where Hale’s garage now is and near the Pike, with the other back about where Love’s garage now is. A harness room facing the pike was the place at which William P. Sassaman started his Wayne career when Wayne was in its infancy. These barns were used as a boarding and livery stables and housed some of the finest equipages in this country.

“Just east of the barns was that gem of the neighborhood, a grand little old white-washed, rose-covered clapboard, story-and-a-half tall house, sheltered by a couple of enormous willow trees and no doubt built about 1792, when the Lancaster Pike was laid out. Davis Whiteman, the local shoemaker, occupied it and repaired shoes while his good wife collected the toll. This house made way for improvements in the very early days. Near it, and in the meadow north of the Lancaster Pike, about back of the house of A. L. Weadley, stood a square stone house over a spring . . . this also departed in the early days.”

(To Be Continued)