The Wayne Estate booklets from which the writer of this column has been quoting so freely, abound in glowing descriptions of this entire neighborhood in which these houses were being located in the late eighties and early nineties.
George W. Childs and the firm of Wendell and Smith were obviously proud of what they were doing. “The handsomest suburb, perhaps, in the country is Wayne,” they announce in what might be termed a rather sweeping statement since “this country” obviously means the entire United States. The description continues by stating that Wayne is “on the Main Line of the Pennsylvania Railroad, a pleasant twenty-five-minute ride from Broad Street Station, through a district of unexceptional rural beauty, and reached by sixty-four daily trains at convenient hours (Time Table in back of book).” The territory of this charming town embraces an area of about six hundred acres of plateau (four hundred feet above the level of Philadelphia) environed by woodlands; its population, 1500. Wayne is a town far superior to the usual unestablished places in the suburbs of Philadelphia. It has every general improvement in perfect working order.”
The train schedule in the back of the book shows the following fares to Philadelphia. Two-day excursion ticket was seventy-three cents, while a monthly ticket was $7.05 and a monthly school ticket was $4.70. Fifty-trip book for family use was $14.70 and a three months ticket was $19.00, which figured out to ten and a quarter cents per ride. An interesting note was attached to the schedule indicating that “Market baskets, bicycles and baby coaches are entitled to free transportation!”
The writer, note-book in hand, took a leisurely walk through St. Davids recently, in an effort to identify one or two houses of each of the types not already described in last week’s column. A phrase from one of the booklets came into her mind immediately since its truth was so evident. “There is no crowding; we have left a vacant lot between each house, and sell it on easy terms, should more ground be needed.” Some of the early owners evidently took advantage of this opportunity to enlarge their real estate holdings. But in many instances “this vacant lot between each house” is now occupied by a house of a later date to break the sometimes monotonous effect of block after block of Wayne Estate architecture. The 200 block of Windermere avenue on the south side is solid with these houses. They abound also in the 300 and 400 blocks of Midland avenue as they do along the same section of Lancaster pike, especially on the South side.
Houses like those at 210 and again at 226 Windermere avenue were very popular apparently. They were priced at $8,250 “and upwards” and had “a very picturesque exterior. Large porch across the front of the house. First floor – vestibule, spacious hallway, dining room, reception room, library with open grate, mantel and tile work, pantry, kitchen, out-kitchen and back staircase. Hall and stairways connected by archways for curtains. Second floor – Five chambers of good size, three of them across the front, en suite. Bath room and nine closets. Third floor – two servants rooms, a large hall and store room. Special features, open grate in lower hall, dining room, removed from kitchen odors, library has a private entrance to front staircase.”
All of the houses built in South Wayne and St. Davids at this particular time were of about the same size, particularly in the matter of the “five chambers” on the second floor. More of them will be described in next week’s column.