Radnor Fire Company history & members, Radnor High School, The Coffee House

“Be it known that the subscribers, having associated themselves together for the support of Fire Engine, Hook and Ladder and Hose Company for the control of fire and being desirous of becoming incorporated agreeably to the provision of the act of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania . . . do hereby declare, set forth and certify that the following are the purposes, objects, articles and conditions of their said association for and upon which they desire to be incorporated.”

So reads, in part, the opening paragraph of the handsomely framed charter of the Radnor Fire Company which still hangs on the second floor of the fire house on South Wayne avenue. It is signed by 24 subscribers, and dated March 15, 1906. Isaac Johnson, President Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County, attached his signature to the decree, as did R. J. Baldwin, Recorder of Deeds, and W. I. B. McClenachan, Deputy Recorder.

The first clause of the “articles and conditions of said association” sates that its name shall be “Radnor Fire Company of Wayne”. The second states that its purpose is “for the control of fire”, the third that its place of business is Wayne, Delaware County, Pa., and its fourth that the corporation is “to exist perpetually”.

The fifth clause gives the names of the subscribers while the sixth states that the corporation has no capital stock and is to be managed by a board consisting of seven members. According to the seventh clause, “the early income of the Corporation other than that derived from real estate will not exceed the sum of $25.”

The 24 names of subscribers in the order in which they appear on the charter are: Charles M. Wilkins, Charles E. Clark, L. B. Gault, Edward G. Fritz, Andrew L. Fritz, Nathan P. Pechin, Charles T. Worrall, George Deuber, John S. Detterline, Jr., Albert McAllister, Joseph M. Devereaux, W. H. Gault, John A. Duff, Howard F. Pennell, Richard Leary, A. A. Sellers, Patrick J. Duf, David P. Duff, W. Clarence Lucas, W. W. Gualt, George G. Lentz, J. Herbert Reynolds, Frederick H. Treat, and Charles H. Stewart. With the exception of Mr. Pechin, who lived in Radnor, and Mr. Stewart, who lived in St. Davids, all were residents of Wayne.

Directors for the first year as listed in the charter were the Messrs. Stewart, Worrall, Treat, Pechin, W. H. Gault and John H. Duff, with the president, who was still to be elected at that time, to serve in an ex-officio capacity. W. W. Hearne was later chosen for that office, serving from 1906 until 1917.

It is interesting to note that the first two subscribers to sign the charter have sons who now, some 46 years later, are actively connected with the Radnor Fire Company. “Eddie” Clark has been the popular Fire Chief for some 19 years past, while Leslie D. Wilkins, whose activities have extended over a long period, is the Chief Engineer and Secretary. Both Mr. Clark, Sr., and Mr. Wilkins, Sr., served at various times as chief of the Fire Department. The latter is now deceased, but Charles M. Clark is Fire Co-ordinator for the State Defense Council, he now spends most of his time in Harrisburg.

The first semblance of an organized fire company in Wayne was formed soon after the Civil War with headquarters in what is now the Legion House on Beechtree lane. It was called the North Wayne Hose Company. An organization formed slightly later was the Wayne Chemical Company. Subsequently these companies were sponsored by the North Wayne Protective Association and the Wayne Public Safety Association, which originally took over both police and fire protection for their respective districts.

The charter members of the present fire company, when it was formed in 1906, were drawn from the membership of both these groups. The nucleus of the buildings which are now the fire company’s headquarters on South Wayne avenue was built by the Wayne Public Safety Association sometime in the ’90’s. At that period the fire company’s chief piece of equipment was a chemical wagon pulled by horses hastily obtained from the R. H. Johnson Company, on Conestoga road, whenever the alarm for a fire was sounded. At that time there were both front and back exits through which a horse-drawn fire engine could be drawn. All of the ground back of the small building was an open field. The old Coffee House then stood on the site of the present high school building, while the high school itself was located in the present grammar school before the annex was added.

When the present Radnor Fire Company, as formed in 1906, had been in successful operation for ten years, the small building which it had been occupying since the Wayne Chemical Company had gone out of existence was formally deeded to them by the Wayne Protective Association. This was in 1916, and by then it had become apparent that the Radnor Fire Company needed larger quarters. The original building was placed on rollers and pushed farther back on the property in order to make room for the addition planned by the Radnor Fire Company.

Pictures of the original building show that its front door, which faced West, is identically the same door by which voters enter the polls after turning to the let when they first go into the fire house on the High School side. The present stairway, as well as the upstairs room and the room underneath, belonged to the original small building.

After this first addition was made in 1916, further enlargements came in 1936 and 1948. The ambulance, purchased in 1947, then found permanent quarters in the one-story annex tot he South of the older building.

For subsequent articles in this series much interesting material on the early days of the Radnor Fire Company, obtained from several of the Charter members of the organization, will be presented to our readers.

(To be continued)

The Wayne Art Center, part 1 – Radnor High School

Like most of the large houses built in Wayne in the late 1880’s and the early 1890’s, Mrs. Craig Atmore’s home at 314 Louella avenue has a big barn in the rear of the building lot. Like many of its contemporaries this building is larger and more stately than the average house that is being erected these days. Aside from using a comparatively small part of the downstairs portion for garage space, most of the owners of these structures of a bygone era do not quite know how to utilize them. Indeed, a one or two-car garage would have much more purpose in most cases. And besides, it would not take up nearly so much of the building lot!

Mrs. Atmore’s barn is a notable exception to this rule, however. For it houses one of Radnor township’s most interesting and unusual organizations, The Wayne Art Center, founded 20 years ago this Spring as the result of a small meeting held on March 5, 1931 in Miss Mary Walsh’s apartment in Windermere Court.

This meeting opened, according to its minutes, as kept by Dr. Addison S. Buck, “with a brief statement to the effect that the purpose . . . was to discuss what might be done in Wayne for persons either out of work or with surplus leisure time at their disposal, by providing a suitable place for them to go, with opportunities to engage in avocational pursuits, or, more specifically, opportunities for self-expression.”

1931 was one of the years of “the depression”. There were more than a few among us “either out of work or with surplus leisure time.” Then, besides, such a project as this contemplated would give the children of the township “a suitable atmosphere and materials . . . to learn to use their free time with the development of an appreciation of the beautiful things of life.”

As an example of what might be attained, the excellent work of the Graphic Sketch Club of Philadelphia, under the guidance of Mr. Fleisher, was cited. Mrs. Ross W. Fishburn, who had questioned Mr. Fleisher in regard to what could be done along similar lines in Wayne, quoted him as saying that one thing that might be accomplished would be “the establish a center of beauty, where one may work creatively,” adding this terse statement, “America has no reserve in art.”

This meeting was attended by 22 interested residents of the township. A second meeting, held a week later at the Field and Shaw Shop, then located at the corner of Lancaster avenue and Louella drive, had a still larger attendance. Ideas on organization became more concrete and various committees were appointed. By the third meeting, held on March 19, a motion was passed “that an Arts and Crafts Centre be started to encourage the appreciation of the arts by instruction and by providing workshops and a place in which exhibitions may be held.”

These were the comparatively simple beginnings of one of Radnor township’s noteworthy institutions, The Wayne Art Center, now housed in the barn at the rear of 314 Louella avenue. Its first home was in the second floor of the large garage, formerly used as a stable, on the Humbert B. Powell property on Windermere avenue, the rental agreement for which was signed on May 28, 1931. Several years later the Art Center took up quarters in Radnor High School before moving to its present location.

The 20 years intervening between the Spring of 1931 and this Spring of 1951 have been interesting, colorful ones that will be described in later articles in this column. These years led up to the present time, when each week sees six classes in session, each taught by professionals, all of whom are recognized artists in their particular fields. The old barn is a veritable bee-hive of activity, with the large room on the second floor used as the studio for the various classes. Three smaller rooms of this floor, as well as the hourse stables on the main floor are used for storage of large quantities of supplies, such as easels, paints, paper, objects for still life, pieces of sculpture, plaster, indeed all actual necessities for painting and sculpturing.

Unique among the six classes is the lively Saturday morning one for children, taught by Mrs. Edward Fenno Hoffman, assisted by Mrs. Russell Moore. Daytime classes include those taught on Tuesday mornings by Margaret Chrystie, where part of the work is done in the studio and part in field trips. Mrs. Hill Kephart’s classes meet on alternate Thursday afternoons, for instructions in early American decoration, with special emphasis on tray painting and on the decoration of furniture.

Then there are three evening classes, among them the class taught by Reynolds C. Mason, in which some unusual talent has been developed among beginners. These classes are held on Thursday evening. On Tuesday evenings William Ferguson, who is critic rather than instructor, holds classes in oils, water colors, pastels and charcoal. On Wednesday evening there is available another class in tray painting, in addition to Mrs. Kephart’s, this one taught by Mrs. William C. Hurst. Mothers of young children and women emplyed during the daytime, are in the majority among those enrolled in Mrs. Hurst’s group.

The Art Center is now headed by one of its charter members, Arthur Edrop, of Radnor, as president. Vice-presidents include Miss Bernadine Tolan and John H. Ansley, of Wayne, and Mrs. W. N. Stilwell, of Radnor. Mrs. John J. Berg, of Wayne, is secretly of the board, while Mrs. Henry D. Booth, Jr., of St. Davids, is treasurer. Mrs. Davis W. Gregg, also of St. Davids, serves as executive secretary of the organization.

(To be continued)