Wayne in 1922: Automobiles, Bryn Mawr Business Men’s Assoc., Red Cross, Church Pastors

Though it may be true, as we said earlier in this series, on the Wayne of 1922, that 30 years ago may seem “but yesterday” to many of us, it still must seem many yesterdays ago to all of us wen a new Chevrolet car could be purchased for $525. Nevertheless the Wayne Motor Sales Company was advertising such a car in “The Suburban” in 1922.

In addition the autos of that year had made “about 30 improvements”, since the spring of 1921, including “three speeds forward, water pump, one man top and gypsy style back curtain”. By December the Chevrolet “Sedanette” was the newcomer in the automobile field, with the public invited “to inspect this latest and most sensational addition to the Motor World’s Sport Car Field.” This sedanette cost $850.

Ford, “the Universal Car”, sold one model as low as $295, as advertised by the Suburban Auto Sales Company, of Wayne. George L. Barnett was showing a Packard Single Six at $2350 in his show rooms. Allan C. Hale, Maine Line distributor of Buick, had a wide selection ranging in price from $895 for a 2-passenger roadster, to $2375 for a 7-passenger sedan. The Strafford Motor Shop was selling Maxwell touring cars and roadsters at $885, with sedans at $1485.

The Wayne Business Men’s Association was formed late in 1922, when some 40 of the business men and women of Wayne held an organization meeting, at which Everett E. Bürlingame, president of the Bryn Mawr Business Men’s Association, told of what his organization was accomplishing. Elections resulted in the choice of Harvey M. Hale, president; Fred H. Treat, vice-president; Walter H. White, secretary; William C. Devereaux, treasurer, with Louis Jacquette Palmer serving as solicitor. The objects of the association were “to increase the prosperity and welfare of members, and to cooperate with other civic organizations to secure municipal improvements.

Elections in the Radnor Fire Company were spirited in 1922 with several candidates running for most offices. Final results were Charles E. Clark, president; John M. Gallagher, vice-president; Harry C. Hunter, treasurer and Harry Bryan, secretary. Harvey M. Hale was chosen Chief, with James K. Dunne as first assistant.

A boarding school for boys that held a prominent place not only in the community, but in the educational world, was St. Luke’s, which has since gone out of existence. When it was in operation it was located in what was later to become the original building of the Valley Forge Military Academy, at the intersection of Eagle and Radnor roads.

The Wayne Boy Scout Troop was very active 30 years ago under the leadership of Joseph Y. Wilson. In the spring of 1922 these boys were hosts to all the other Delaware County Troops at a get-together such as had never been held up to that time. Staged at the log cabin on the LeBoutillier property, it was a huge affair with Julian Saloman, of New York, as the chief speaker. Mr. Saloman had been the guiding spirit of the jamboree at London two years before, when he headed the Indian pageant which won for American Scouts the first prize in competition with Scouts from all over the world. When he appeared at the Wayne Troop affair he was in full Indian regalia as he talked on Indian lore and legends, concluding with Indian dances. A review and inspection of the Delaware County Scout Troops, with refreshments for all, concluded the big day in Wayne.

The Wayne Lodge, F. and A. M., held its annual meeting in December when Guy B. WHeeler was named Worshipful Master. Francis G. Lathrop was made senior warden; J. Kenneth Satchell, junior warden; Elmer Burket, treasurer and Charles D. Smedley, secretary. Trustees were Jonathan D. Lengel, Walter L. Lobb and Nathan P. Pechin. Representative in Grand Chapter was Dr. Joseph C. Egbert. Elections were followed by the annual banquet.

The Wayne Branch of the American Red Cross, along with all other Branches throughout the country, was still holding an annual membership drive in an endeavor to enroll as many as possible for what now seems the more than modest sum of one dollar each. Of this, 50 cents was divided between the local branch and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter. House-to-house canvassers had worn special badges as they made their rounds “with buttons and placards for all”. At that time Mrs. William Henry Brooks was chairman for the Wayne Branch; Miss Grace C. Roberts, corresponding secretary, and Mrs. William V. Alexander, secretary.

For the spring of 1922 the preferential ballot was used for the first time in Saturday Club elections, which resulted in the choice of Mrs. John J. Mitchell for president. Mrs. Charles H. Howson was made first vice-president; Mrs. J. S. C. Harvey, second vice-president; Miss Fannie E. Wood, recording secretary; Miss Elmira Eckert, corresponding secretary and Mrs. E. D. Tatnall, treasurer. Directors for two years were Mrs. James F. Mitchell, Mrs. Ross W. Fishburn and Mrs. Marshall H. Smith, while those for four years were Mrs. Henry Roever, Mrs. W. Allen Barr and Mrs. A. H. Higgins. Inaugural ceremonies were followed by a tea for the incoming president, given by the retiring president, Mrs. Barr. The year had been the usual active one for the Club, with the big birthday luncheon in March and with weekly programs varying from lectures on current events to classes in contract bridge. Combining with the League of WOmen Voters they had had an evening meeting at which state and local candidates for the coming elections had been invited speakers.

In 1922 Dr. Charles Schall was pastor of the Wayne Presbyterian Church; the Rev. Henry Rushton, of the Methodist Church; the Rev. John Wesley Elliot, of the Central Baptist; the Rev. F. T. Gillingham of the First Baptist; Msgr. Charles F. Kavanagh, of St. Katharine’s; the Rev. George Anthony, of St. Mary’s; the Rev. Richard H. Gurley, of St. Martin’s, and the Rev. Croswell McBee, of Old St. David’s.

At Christmas the big tree on the Louella grounds was lighted for the first time with community singing led by Edgar Hunt. This custom continued for many years thereafter around the giant tree on Lancaster pike.

On this Christmas note we conclude this story of Wayne in 1922 –a story which of necessity has hit only the highlights, with the omission of many of the details. For Wayne 30 years ago was almost as full of community life as Wayne of 1952–different in many ways perhaps, yet as friendly and neighborly then as now!

1915 meeting of the “Old Settlers”; 6 Radnor schools; 1897 rules for using telephones; T. T. Worrell & Sons store and prices for items

T. Stewart Wood, who had often been called “the Father of Radnor Township Schools”, was one of the principal speakers at the January, 1915 meeting of the Wayne Men’s Club, when reminiscences were the order of the evening among the “Old Settlers”.

Described by Henry P. Conner, then president of the Club, as “the most modest of men”, Mr. Wood said that he was originally chosen as a candidate for School Director because as a matter of fact, “it wasn’t an office much sought after in those days”. And since he was not at the caucus “to protect” himself, the candidacy was thrust upon him. Then came elections with a brisk contest for the office since there were two opposing factions among the voters. On one hand there was an insistent demand for better school facilities in Wayne, while on the other there was strong opposition to such a move since it would involve a large expenditure of money and a subsequent increase in taxes.

Mr. Wood was elected, and the changes which he put into effect form the foundation of our present splendid school system. However, when these changes were made they met with so much opposition on the part of Radnor Township residents outside of Wayne that Mr. Wood said he was probably “the best hated man in the district”. His opponents at the time had a way of saying that he was “taxing the poor to educate the rich”, while the more far-sighted realized that the reverse was true.

At the time Mr. Wood was elected to office there were six schools in Radnor Township, including those in Wayne, Garrett Hill, Paxson Mills, Ithan, Radnor and at Tryon Lewis’. Each was independent of the other. While attendance at Wayne and at Garrett Hill was good, it averaged fifteen or less at the other four schools. This meant that in some schools there were classes with but two or three pupils, although all grades were usually represented. And while Mr. Wood had great respect for “the Little Red School House”, he realized that Radnor Township must keep abreast of the changing trends in education throughout the country.

Many of Mr. Wood’s constituents in Wayne would have been satisfied merely with a new Grammar School. But the school director whomthey had elected to office considered the time ripe to put into effect a broader and more general plan which would include changes in the school of the whole township. This plan when finally consummated provided for instruction of the higher grades in Wayne and in Garrett Hill and of the lower grades in the other four schools. Four years from the final establishment of the system the first graduating class of Radnor High School had its commencement.

Such a system called for the services of an able superintendent to organize classes in all the six schools and to supervise their teaching. Mr. Wood was instrumental in securing the services of George H. Wilson, who for a number of years afterwards held his place as head of the schools in Radnor Township.

Four years before these “Old Settlers” meetings were held by the Men’s Club a short series of articles was written for “The Suburban” under the title of “Wayne in the Olden Times”. Much of this series told of early sports in Wayne which have already been described from time to time in this column.

However, there are several aspects of community life which have not been touched on before. For one thing the writer of “Wayne in the Olden Times” thought it might be interesting to his readers in 1911, when “a telephone has become almost a necessity”, to know that in 1897 there were but 14 telephones in all Wayne. Dr. H. C. Hadley was the manager and the exchange was in his drug store. Pioneer subscribers were C. H. Barrett, G. W. Bergner, C. K. Bolles, I. W. Conner & Co., James Goodwin, R. H. Johnson (residence and office), G. E. Mancill & Bro., Pennsylvania Railroad, J. W. Reavey, Siter and Barrett, Charles S. Walton, Wayne Cycle Club, Dr. George M. Wells and T. T. Worrell & Sons.

Rules for the use of these early telephones sound quaint indeed these 55 years later. Some of the younger readers of our column should perhaps be reminded that in those days and for some years afterwards all telephone instruments were large, clumsy affairs firmly attached to the wall. To the writer of this column they always seemed closer to the ceiling than to the floor. Even by standing on her tip-toes she could scarcely reach the mouthpiece, and why some compromise between the needs of the tall and the very short could not have been made has always remained a mystery.

At any rate there were four important rules which were as follows:

1. After ringing for the exchange, take down earphone and wait for operator to answer.

2. When operator answers, give number you want.

3. WHen through talking be sure to ring off.

4. Never call up before 7 A. M. nor after 11 P. M. unless very urgent.

“In these days of high prices”, says our historian of 1911, “it might be interesting to know that T. T. Worrell & Sons were selling butter for 24 cents a pound in the winter of 1897; hams at ten cents a pound and coffee at 21 cents a pound.”

To us in these days of still higher prices it might be interesting to know what were considered “high prices” in 1911. At that time The Suburban gave front page space to its advertisers. Prominent among these were three grocery and meat stores, now long since out of existence. T. T. Worrell & Sons, Ira V. Hale and Edgar Jones. Among the items they advertised were rib roasts at 14 cents a pound; pork roasts at 16 cents; legs of lamb at 18 cents; pork chops at 16 cents and bacon at 30 cents. Butter sold pretty generally at 36 cents a pound and “fresh country eggs” at 36 cents a dozen.

“Fancy California oranges” sold as low as 25 cents a dozen and as high as 70 cents. And for a “quickly prepared luncheon” Worrell offered cold boiled ham at 40 cents a pound; peanut butter and home made jellies at 10 cents a glass; sardines as low as 15 cents a can; cream cheese at 10 cents a package and lamb tongue at 40 cents a jar. This same store apparently specialized in candy as well as “quickly prepared” luncheon articles. Both assorted chocolates and chocolate covered nougats were 40 cents a pound. Horehound drops bring back nostalgic memories, but what were assorted jelly strings” the sold at 30 cents a pound?

Then, as now, The Suburban had its full quota of advertisements–but none perhaps that marks the passing of the years more sharply than that of Howard S. Kromer, successor to James F. Kromer, Wayne Livery and Boarding Stables. “Special Attention” was given “to the care of horses”; “conveyances” were furnished on short notice”, carriages were stored and “particular attention was given to weddings and funerals”.

And now, where in all Wayne should be begin to look for a horse, a carriage or, indeed, any kind of “conveyance” except a gasoline driven one?

Ashmead’s History of Delaware County, part 2 – Bellevue Mansion

In last week’s column we gave you a block-by-block description of Wayne as it appeared to the eyes of a reporter on the “Germantown Telegraph” in the summer of 1884. Henry Graham Ashmead has preserved for posterity in his “History of Delaware County”, the article as it appeared in that paper under date of July 2 of that year.

In this column’s resume of the reporter’s (or perhaps he was a special feature writer) description we had come as far as the corner of Lancaster Pike and Bellevue avenue last week. There was a well drawn word picture of the famous Bellevue Mansion of one hundred rooms located on the northeast corner of what is now Bellevue avenue and the Pike. And across the road were seven or eight new “cottages” under construction.

Evidently there was no Bellevue avenue at that time. For it was “adjoining Bellevue Mansion on the west” that Mr. Theodore Gugert of the firm of Bergner and Engel had purchased a lot one hundred feet by three hundred feet, on which he was erecting “an elegant cottage”. This cottage, which we of today consider a house of goodly proportions, still remains in excellent condition. Perhaps some of its original frontage has been sacrificed to make room for the large building which now houses Jackson Chevrolet’s show room and offices. However, that ground and that which is now taken up by Bellevue avenue itself, were probably originally part of the grounds of Bellevue Mansion.

Next to the Gugert residence was a lot on which “Dr. Egbert, a young physician of Radnor Township . . . is also building a fine stone cottage” according to our chronicler. This is the large white stucco house with the white pillars so different in type of architecture from many of its neighbors that it is difficult to associate it with that period of the middle eighties. Occupied for many years by Dr. Joseph Crawford Egbert, well known Wayne physician and a long time member of the Radnor Township School Board, it has seen many successive owners since that time. The house has now been converted into apartments.

By way of passing, our reporter states that Dr. Egbert at the time had medical charge of the young Indian girls at the Spread Eagle Inn, near his cottage. This old hostel built in the late 1700’s, had been purchased by Mr. Childs “to stop the sale of liquor near his bailiwick”, so it is said. The new owner had lent it for a country home for the young Indian wards of the Lincoln Institute. Mrs. Belanger Cox was in charge of these children who in the middle eighties were enjoying “plenty of comforts and conveniences, and every opportunity for outdoor exercise, without being interfered with by outsiders.”

After leaving the Spread Eagle Inn, our reporter went along Old Conestoga road to its intersection with Wayne avenue. Here in the vicinity of the old Baptist Church, Messrs. Childs and Drexel were ofering building lots of 150 feet frontage and “considerable depth” priced at $800 to $1500 each. They were near “the spacious and substantial reservoir” located at the corner of old Wayne road and Bloomingdale avenue. Built at a cost of $30,000, this reservoir had “a capacity for 300,000 gallons of pure spring water, of which there is an abundant supply on the estate”. It is described as standing 450 feet above tidewater, and supplied by “extensive and costly water works.” It was evidently not only of great use, but also of great ornament to the community as there was “an elegant promenade on top, provided with rustic seats”.

Along Wayne avenue from Bloomingdale to Audubon avenues, there were a number of new brick and stone cottages on either side. According to our chronicler they were “very superior and provided with all modern conveniences”, some having fronts of 85 feet by 250 feet depth. They were to be sold for $5500, “clear of all incumbrance” and our description continues, “each cottage is by itself, and there is plenty of privacy.” These houses still line both sides of West Wayne avenue. The Saturday Club, which stands in their midst, was not built until 1898.

Before commenting on what is now the “business block”, our reporter states that there were “several available building lots” as he looked up Windermere avenue to the right after crossing Audubon avenue. These are now occupied by such buildings as the Radnor Township Schools, Windermere Court Apartments and a number of private dwellings.

The site of the present Sun Ray Drug Store was occupied in 1884 by the “new and handsome” drug store of J. M. Fronefield, Jr., next door to which was the building still occupied by Lienhardt’s Bakery, as it was originally. Across the Pike and next to the Lyceum, was the “costly, well-built Presbyterian Church”, of which the Reverend William Kruse was the pastor. Across the street from the Church and to the east of Lienhardt’s Bakery were several “splendid cottages . . . built of brick with slate roofs, ten rooms, wide porches, fine lawns and luxuriously fitted up.” If the present day passerby looks across the Pike from the sidewalk in front of the Church, he may see in the second and third stories of the stores in the business block, what now remains of those “splendid cottages”. For obviously the upper stories of many of the stores like Lafferty’s, Wack’s, the Delaware Market House, and many others were originally part of homes, not business houses.

But in 1884, the Pike was a narrow, three shaded road. These houses stood well back from it on spacious, weel kept lawns, wehere the grass was green and the planting luxurious. Somehow it is hard to imagine . . . but it was all part of an era before that of the swift moving passenger automobile and the heavy lumbering trucks that go their way by day and by night along the Highway. Those were the “horse and buggy days”, still clear in the memories of a few.

And at the end of that block, where Louella avenue intersects Lancaster avenue, stood the spacious home of one of Wayne’s prominent citizens, James Pinkerton, an official of the Bank of North America, in Philadelphia. What now remains of the once handsome building may best be seen from Louella avenue as one looks up at the large brick dwelling which forms the back of the former Halligan Store and of LaFrance Cleaners, and overlooks the school field. Until recently used as an apartment house, it now stands condemned for present occupancy, many of its windows shattered and desolate in its emptiness.

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)

J.M. Fronefield’s account of early 1880’s Wayne

Among Wayne’s outstanding citizen’s of an earlier day, Joseph M. Fronefield, Jr., who came here in 1881 to establish a small country drug store, contributed greatly to the growth and development of the community during nearly 60 years of residence here.

After his death, in August, 1940, his son, Joseph M. Fronefield, 3d, found in his desk an old stenographic notebook in which is father had written in longhand a vivid description of Wayne as he knew it in the early 80’s. The notebook was tucked away among some books on local history, in which the elder mr. Fronefield had always taken a deep interest. Though a few of the first pages of this account were missing, there is still page after page of facts that are invaluable in re-creating a picture of the Wayne of many years ago.

Old landmarks are listed, forgotten roads and lanes are retraced, old churches, business buildings and houses are described and dated in the pages of a chronicle written by a man who remembered them all vividly. “The little drugstore which brought the writer to Wayne,” Mr. Fronefield notes, “occupied the pike side of a small road on the eastern end of Lyceum Hall. The Childs and Drexel office was in the rear. The second floor was a public auditorium and the third floor a lodge room.”

This was Wayne’s Lyceum Hall before the addition at the western end was constructed. The building on the northeast corner of Lancaster avenue and North Wayne avenue, now occupied by “My Country Store” and several other shops on the pike side, was added later. At one time the building was known as the Wayne Opera House.

This early Wayne Lyceum Hall is described by Mr. Fronefield as “a plastered mansard roof house of a dull, grayish-brown color, occupied on the first floor by a general country store which sold dry goods, groceries, hardware and farming implements, under the proprietorship of J. Harry Brooke, who, many years afterward, was real estate officer of the Merion Title and Trust Company. Mr. Brooke, his clerk and the writer occupied the green room and stage wings of the auditorium on the second floor for sleeping quarters. More than once my cot and rug were used for stage decorations at a time of concerts.

“The building was piped for gas and had a spring feed gas machine which was under my charge. A barrel of gasoline poured into the outside tank, plus the strength of six mules to wind up the machine, made sufficient lights for months and months. This building was later greatly enlarged and its name changed to the Wayne Opera House.”

In describing the immediate vicinity of Wayne Lyceum Hall in the 80’s, Mr. Fronefield continues: “The surrounding country was farm land. I could look out the drugstore door (it had no window on the pike) and see cattle grazing in the meadow where the business block, fire house and school houses now stand. This was part of what was known as the Siter Farm. Its buildings stood on Conestoga road, about where the residence of the late F. A. Canizares now stands. The old Siter home burned in later years when owned and occupied by R. H. Johnson. the spring house was near the rear of what is now the Wayne Apartment house at the corner of West Wayne and Bloomingdale avenues.

“The Izzacki Fritz farm adjoined it and had its buildings near where the Presbyterian parsonage now stands on Audubon avenue. the buildings included some sort of an old stone mill. The Mifflin property lay south of the Siter and Fritz properties and faced on Conestoga road. The buildings were where he home of Mr. Forsythe now stands on Upland Way. It had an entrance lane from Lancaster pike which left the pike at the big tree where St. Mary’s Church now stands.

“The Wilds farm had its building east of where Midland and Pembroke avenues intersect. The old apple trees on the property of Mr. Helms are the last of the family orchard. The spring house was in the rear of the home of Mrs. W. A. Nichols.

“The George farm had its buildings on the north side of Lancaster pike west of St. Davids road, now the home of Mr. Rollin H. Wilbur. The Thomas B. Jones farm on West Lancaster pike near Bloomingdale, was the last to feel the imprint of development, it having been bought from the Jones Estate in recent years by Mr. H. R. Harris, who is developing it.”

The years that have passed since Mr. Fronefield wrote these notes have brought changes in ownership of properties which it may be well to insert here in order to identify locations mentioned.

The F. A. Canizares house on Conestoga road, is now the property of Cornwall Miller. D. C. Mills is the owner of the Forsythe home on Upland Way; the Helms house on Midland avenue is occupied by A. W. Moseley and family. Dr. G. W. Huggler owns and occupies the former Nichols home and the Wilbur residence, long known as “Old Stone House,” is owned by Dr. R. J. W. Kimble.

(I wish to acknowledge my deep gratitude to Joseph M. Fronefield, 3d, for the use of his father’s notes for this and for several other articles which will follow.)

(To be continued)

Miller’s Store, early Post Office, Central Wayne – Cobbs & Lawless

For some months now the center of interest for Wayne citizens, young and old, has been the re-modeling of the old building located at the northwest corner of Lancaster and North Wayne avenues, long known as Miller’s Store. Commuters hurrying home in the dusk of the evening have taken a moment in passing to glance at what progress has been made since they left in the morning. School children as they crossed the pike under the vigilant eye of Officer Botts have looked across at what has been for many years the most interesting store in all Wayne to all of its small fry. Housewives have glanced up from marketing lists to speculate on how the new store would look when it was on street level. For there are few in this vicinity who have not at one time or another climbed the well worn steps that led to the variety store established by William A Miller in 1921.

Mr. Miller, and later his widow, somehow had the happy faculty of keeping in stock many of the small articles for which one searched in vain elsewhere. And for twenty-eight years Wayne’s children bought their lollipops, their ice cream cones, school supplies, comic books, toys and games at the corner store. The death of Mrs. Miller early this year marked the passing of one of Wayne’s real landmarks.

Today Cobb and Lawless have the formal opening of their large electrical appliance and floor covereings shop in the remodeled Miller store and in the store just to the west of it which they have now occupied for some time. Joined together and placed on street level, the two shops now form a spacious whole with large show windows on both Lancaster and North Wayne avenues.

Like many another Wayne shop of our time, this was once an attractive and spacious home. The original red brick house was built about 1890 (perhaps before) when Wayne was just coming into its own as one of the first suburban communities in the country. Lancaster turnpike with its toll gates had then been in existence almost two hundred years – years full of change and development. North Wayne avenue from the pike to Eagle road was the first street built in Wayne by A. J. Drexel and George W. Childs.

The house at the northwest corner of these two roads was purchased in 1897 by Lizzie Pugh Fronefield, its present owner, from Christopher Fallon and Emma L., his wife. At that time it was a residence with the post office at the rear of the building, facing on Wayne avenue. Theodore F. Ramsey and his wife, Sallie Pugh Ramsey, were the postmasters from 1889 to 1893. J. M. Fronefield, Jr., succeeded them, his term lasting from 1893 to 1897.

About 1900 the post office was moved and the former residence was remodeled into two stores, one on Wayne avenue, and the other on the corner. The latter was leased by Mr. Wemmer, who operated a drygoods business known as the “Wayne Mart.” About 1910 he sold out to Mr. Stafford, who continued the business under the same name until 1921 when a third store was built facing on Lancaster avenue. This third store was occupied by N. P. Pechin aas an electrical shop.

About 1905 an addition had been made on the Wayne avenue side, which was occupied until 1915 as a tailor shop by Louis De Louis. In 1915, David H. Henderson moved into this location which he operated as a fish market until his death about two years ago, when it was taken over by Earl Frankenfield, whose widow now operates the business.

Back in 1890 the original house stood at some distance back from the pike, since that road was only a narrow thoroughfare then. There was room for a lawn and a picket fence while the house itself had porches. It was surrounded by both business and residential properties. The Wayne Title and Trust Company was founded in that year. The old opera house had been standing for some years on the northeast corner of the pike and North Wayne avenue. Neighbors then and later on Wayne avenue included among others the George W. Browns, the I. H. B. Spiers, the W. A. Pattons and Dr. and Mrs. Joseph C. Egbert.

To the west of the pike on the present site of the Anthony Wayne Theatre, was the home of Mr. and Mrs. John H. Cook who came there in 1888. They were the parents of Mrs. Walter Peirson, who now lives in the Kingsway apartments. Next door to Mr. Cook lives his business partner, William D. Hughes and his family, in what was later to become the William Wood property. Next to the Hughes home was the old Bellevue Hotel which burned to the ground in a spectacular fire in the winter of 1900.

In reminiscing about her childhood in the old Lancaster pike home, Mrs. Peirson recalls a family whom many old timers in Wayne will remember, the William T. McNeelys. They lived in the Wood home in the summer with their four children: George, Wilson, Helen and Katherine, who were lively playmates for the neighborhood youngsters. Wilson, it seems, had a pony cart in which he took many of them for rides in the country, But on many occasions he also left them there to find their way home on foot!

For the information in today’s article the writer is deeply indebted to Joseph M. Fronefield, 3rd, to Mrs. Walter Peirson, Jr., and to the 1948 edition of the History of Wayne.