Old roads of Wayne – railroad and Wayne Station moved

In continuing the story of Wayne as it was in the early 80’s, it is interesting to note what Mr. Joseph M. Fronefield, Jr., wrote concerning roads in this vicinity.

Country roads were the Conestoga, Eagle, Radnor and Church roads. “The first,” Mr. Fronefield wrote, “Is today in the same location, but the Radnor road left the Lancaster Pike near where Pembroke Avenue is now and crossed the Pennsylvania Railroad diagonally at grade and came through the property now owned by Joseph Rosengaren and struck its present road-bed where it crosses Aberdeen Terrace. The lines may not be followed in some places, particularly near the point where it crossed the railroad.”

Eagle Road was in its present location, excepting it crossed the Pennsylvania Railroad west of Wayne at grade. In this connection it is interesting to remember what Miss Dorothy Finley told me about the mushrooms and wild strawberries that once grew in such abundance along the railroad track on Eagle Road, between Wayne and Strafford stations. Whenever any Wayne housewife wanted either mushrooms or strawberries for the table, it was there she went to pick them. (Miss Finley lives in what was once the old Ramsey farm house on Beechtree lane.)

Church road, according to Mr. Fronefield’s account, “left the Lancaster pike east of St. Davids Golf Links, crossing the Conestoga road at what is now known as Five Points, thence straight to St. Davids Church. The part of this road which passed through the property of William T. Wright was abandoned some years ago.” Hall lane, so called because it led from the railroad to the old Lyceum Hall, once located on the site of the Baptist Church on Conestoga road, has already been described in this column.

So much for roads. As to streets, the first one built by Drexel and Childs was North Wayne avenue, from Lancaster Pike to Eagle road. “At about the same time,” Mr. Fronefield writes, “the railroad was moved from the crest of the hill to its present location and the station located as at present. The road to the old station was closed. The first station at the new location was a frame structure, which some years later was replaced by the present station, since altered. The original one was moved to Strafford, where it still stands.

“In building Wayne avenue, the road was changed so as to cross the Lancaster Pike at right angles and the old roadbed through Lienhardt’s and LaDow’s (now the Sun Ray store) was abandoned.

“A few years later Audubon avenue and Aberdeen avenue were both built, Audubon starting from Wayne avenue just South of the Lancaster Pike and winding through to the Conestoga road, where now stand the homes of Mr. and Mrs. Tillotson and Dr. Truxal. (The Tillotson home is now owned by A. A. Schley.)

“Aberdeen started from the Radnor road North of the railroad at the entrance of the present Stone property (now the Robert N. D. Arndt house), crossing the Lancaster Pike where St. Katharine’s Church now stands, and running to the Conestoga road, where it established what is known as the Five Points. Windermere avenue soon followed from Audubon to Aberdeen avenue.”

The description of Bloomingdale is probably in the first pages of Mr. Fronefield’s account. The pages were unfortunately lost before the stenographer’s not book in which Mr. Fronefield wrote had been found by his son, J. M. Fronefield, 3d. However, the date of he building of the plastered mansard roof houses on Bloomingdale avenue is given as 1871. They were built by J. Henry Askin and later acquired by Drexel and Childs.

“These houses have all been much improved in the intervening years, though the general architecture is much the same as it was,” according to Mr. Fronefield. Another very old house which he mentions is the J. R. Pinkerton home at the corner of Louella avenue and the Pike. It was the first residence erected under the Wayne ownership of Drexel and Childs. Though it is still standing, it is so obscured by the row of stores in front of it, including the large Acme market, that few passersby ever notice the original house.

With this article I have used all the valuable information in Mr. Fronefield’s story of early Wayne. He has been dead for several years. But he would be glad to know, I feel, that Wayne of this generation can, through what he wrote, glimpse a bit of the picture of his Wayne of the early 80’s and 90’s. His account closes with the following amusing brief paragraph:

“Saturday nights in the early days were great nights. All the farmers and their friends for miles around came into town. Cracker barrel, wheelbarrow and macaroni box seats were at a premium and on many nights the early corners pre-empted the Presbyterian Church sheds to keep their horses in the dry, while the latecomers had to be satisfied with fence posts to which to tie. the same people were back, however, on Sunday morning to Church services.”