1952 dedication of Christmas Tree, Wayne Presbyterian Church, Garden Club

10_image01 11_image01As the clear white light of the star of Bethlehem shone forth from the top of the big Douglas fir tree, in front of the Wayne Presbyterian Chapel last Friday evening, to mark the beginning of Christmas week, Wayne could rejoice for the fourth season in a community Christmas tree of its own.

Over the years there have been other trees, but, with the careful selection of both tree and site made in 1952 with a view to the longevity of both, this one should endure for many years. The tree is a gift to Wayne made by Mr. and Mrs. E. Mortimer Newlin in memory of their son, Frank Battles Newlin.

Several members of the Community Garden Club at Wayne were on the committee which selected the variety of tree which should be chosen and the site it was to occupy. Finally a Douglas fir, of the largest dimensions that could be transplanted was picked from the William H. Doyle Nurseries in Berwyn.

In deciding upon a location for the tree, many possible ones alone Lancaster pike had to be ruled out because of plans for the future widening of the highways. The one finally chosen is just to the left of the entrance to one of the community’s oldest churches, the chapel of the Wayne Presbyterian Church, built about 90 years ago on ground donated by J. Henry Askin, founder of Wayne.

With its twinkling, multicolored lights, below the clear white star at its tip, the tree is a beautiful sight, enjoyed alike by Wayne residents and the many passersby along the highway. It was dedicated on Sunday evening, December 14, 1952, as the group of carolers, young and old, sang, strains of “Oh, Come All Ye Faithful,” under the direction of Jesse Zerr, of the music department of Radnor High School.

This tree’s immediate predecessor was the well-remembered giant fir tree, located where Halligan’s toy store now stands. In December 1922, carol singers gathered around it when it was lighted for the first time. Edgar L. Hunt, then organist at St. Mary’s Church and music instructor at Radnor High School, led the group singing, a custom that was to continue for some years. Many felt that this tree and the ground around it should in some fashion have become the property of the township. But this was not to be.

A tree on the Louella Court grounds, located near the old mansion, was considered the community Christmas tree for some years before the one just described took its place. It was around the Louella Court tree that groups of young carollers had been accustomed to gather as they made their rounds along the streets of Wayne and St. Davids, before arriving at St. Mary’s Church in time for the Christmas midnight service.

The first Wayne Community Christmas Tree was one planned in the early 1900’s, on the grounds of the Wayne Primary School, at the intersection South Wayne avenue and Windermere avenue. The story of this tree will be told in next week’s column in addition to that of the handsome North Wayne tree and several others in the immediate area.

(Merry Christmas is extended to all her readers by Mrs. Patterson, who expresses her thanks for the many expressions of appreciation and enjoyment given throughout the year.)