1934 photo of Eldredge’s house, Eldredge School described, reservoir, Florey brick yard near Garrett Hill, Tryon Lewis saw mills, Edwards mills

30_image01The picture shown above was taken in 1934, eight years after the house, originally owned by Miss Emma Eldredge, passed into the possession of DeWitt P. Henry. Interesting old deeds, temporarily in the possession of the writer, show that in the years between 1881, when it was first built, and 1926, this house had passed through several ownerships. In 1946 it was sold by DeWitt Henry to his son, John Henry, who sold it to its present occupants, Mr. and Mrs. Harry Black, about six years ago.

Even looking back over a 74-year period of changing real estate values in Radnor township, it is still hard to believe that Miss Eldredge paid Drexel and Childs only $6,000 for “all that certain lot or piece of ground, with the brick messuage or tenement thereon erected,” as the original property was described in the deed dated August, 1881. Succeeding deeds show a steady increase in the value of the property – in keeping with other property values throughout the township.

When the DeWitt Henry family moved into the house, the blackboards used by the Misses Emma and Adelaide Eldredge, in the school they had conducted in this house for so long, still lined the walls of a large room on the north side, which the Henrys later used as their dining room. A door led directly into this school room from a pathway leading to Lenoir avenue. This door is still in use by the Blacks as a direct entrance from the outside into one of their apartments.

The extensive grounds must have provided generous play space for the pupils of the school. Still beautifully planted, in spite of the ravages of “Hurricane Hazel,” they now provide individual garden space for all of Mrs. Black’s tenants. In calling attention to the rock gardens on the southern boundary of her lot, Mrs. Black explained that it is said to be part of the old reservoir which originally extended from West Wayne avenue to the north, along the western boundary of the properties in this block. If so, this rock garden is the only relic of what was once one of the main sources of water supply tor Wayne.

Herman Lengel, one of Wayne’s old-time builders, described this reservoir to the writer recently as a “very handsome affair” amid surroundings so attractive that local churches held some of their outdoor festivals there. Brick steps led from the side wall of Bloomingdale avenue to the main level of the reservoir, from which another set of steps led to the top of it. Around the reservoir was a brick walk enclosed by an iron fence.

The inside of the reservoir itself was also brick lined. By the early 90’s this source of water supply had ceased to be used, however Mr. Lengel also reminisced about the source of the building supplies that went into the erection of the early Bloomingdale avenue houses. He remembers that the bricks were hauled from the Florey brick yard, near Garrett Hill, by dump cart, and that the timber came from either the Tryon Lewis saw mills or from the Edwards mills. But whoever the builders, or whatever the source of their supplies, time has proved the worth of their labors in the sturdy Victorian style houses that still give shelter to many of Wayne’s families.

(To Be Continued)