Wayne Estate era Churches – Presbyterian, St. Mary’s Memorial Church

At a later date the writer of this column wants to devote an entire week’s space to each of the churches in the Township, giving in some detail their history and development. For the moment, however, it is interesting to note just what churches were here at the time when the Wayne Estate houses were built, giving their history up to about 1890. For this information the column is mostly indebted to the two Wayne Estate booklets from which so much of its material for this period has been drawn.

One of these booklets states, “Protestant, Episcopal, Baptist and Presbyterian churches in the town and Roman Catholic churches at Villanova and Berwyn, not far off”. Although the oldest church now standing in Wayne is the Presbyterian on Lancaster avenue, the Baptists had had a meeting house at the corner of Wayne avenue and Conestoga road since 1841. The present building as we now see it, although in disuse as a church for some years past, was erected upon the site of the old building in 1889.. The pastor, the Rev. John Miller, was called to the church January 7, 1889, and entered upon the work “the first Sabbath in March of the same year”.

These services must have been held elsewhere for a few months as the church which is described as a “neat and attractive structure” was not opened for service until the 3rd of January, 1890. Most interesting of all is the fact that it was dedicated, free of debt, November 30, 1892, the 50th anniversary of the church under charter.

The original Presbyterian Church, of which the cornerstone was laid May 12, 1870, by the Rev. John Chambers of Philadelphia, stands to the right of the present building, and is known as “the Chapel”. This church building, without encumbrance and with a small endowment was presented to the Presbyterian congregation by J. Henry Askin as a memorial to his father and mother. At this juncture it is interesting to quote from the recent brochure issued by the church in connection with its building fund.

“Right from the beginning, those Charter members of the Wayne Presbyterian Church saw clearly the broad scope of their responsibility. In the building of this new community it would not be enough simply to maintain services of public worship. There would be need to be a teaching ministry for the children and youth and a friendly outreach to foster community fellowship.

“It was on June 12, 1870, that the Sunday School was first connected. From that humble beginning, with only five children, the Wayne Presbyterian Sunday School grew rapidly. As early as 1889, its enrollment of 87 (a figure substantially larger than the Church membership of that year) necessitated the building of a chapel to accommodate the steadily increasing Sunday School.”

By 1890 “the parallel growth of the Congregation and Sunday School required the making of — plans for the development of new facilities”. On May 12, 1892, the corner-stone of the new church was laid, “a stately and costly structure of the early English Gothic style of architecture,” to quote again from the Wayne Estate booklet, which also describes the location as “desirably situated on Lancaster avenue, and its center position makes it easy of access from all parts of the village.” This building is the Presbyterian Church as we now know it except for the Church School building, which was added to it in 1922.

The Methodist Episcopal Church, according to the pictures in the real estate brochure, looked in the early nineties just as it does today, even to the H. L. Badger house directly to the South of it, and with the stone pillars of Dr. Elmer’s driveway just showing across the street. The church is described as “beautifully situated at the corner of Audubon and Runnymede avenues – the dates of the principal events in its history may serve as illustrating the growth of Wayne itself. The first service was held in April, 1890, The corner-stone of the church was laid in September, 1890, and the edifice was dedicated June 28, 1891. On the first anniversary of dedication, June, 1892, the new and beautiful pipe organ was dedicated.”

Interior and exterior pictures of St. Mary’s Memorial Church built in 1889-90 “on a lot of ground at the intersection of Lancaster and Louella avenues, presented by the Wayne Estate” show the church little changed in the sixty years that have passed. “The total length of the building, exclusive of the porch”, so reads the description, “is 113 feet, and its width across the trancept is 82 feet. In style it is an English Village Church, with a massive tower at the corner of the north trancept, rising to the height of about 80 feet, and containing an exceptionally fine chime of ten bells, varying in weight from 230 to 2100 pounds. The material of the Church is Avondale stone with cut work of Indiana limestone. The nave occupies the entire length of the building, the roof being supported by heavy Gothic braces. The base of the Tower forms a spacious Baptistry, floored with mosaic, and there are clergy and choir vestries on the South of the chancel. The chancel itself has a depth of 33 feet, and is separated from the nave by a richly carved oaken Rood-screen.”

Opened for service on Easter Sunday, April 6, 1890, the building is a memorial to Mr. and Mrs. Harry Conrad of Philadelphia. Its memorial character has been “accentuated by various gifts, such as windows, brass work, paintings, etc., in memory of others. A parish house, connected with the church by a porte-cochere and corridor, is 56 by 54 feet, and contains Sunday and Infant School rooms, class rooms, a library, kitchen, etc.”

The entire group of buildings, including the Rector’s house, stood originally on an undivided lot of nearly four acres. The Township Building was the original Rector’s house, the present Rectory having been built at a later date.

Victorian advertising descriptions of Wayne – “Souvenir Booklet”

We are more than glad to welcome back the writer of this column, Emma C. Patterson, after a serious illness. Mrs. Patterson will continue her review of Wayne and Radnor Township’s past, gleanings which have revived and refreshed memories and have given to newer residents a glimpse into local history.

Previous articles in this series have described in detail the exterior appearance of the Wayne Estate houses as well as their architectural plans. The “souvenir booklet” which has given me much of my information has a few pictures of furnished rooms which are typical of those of some sixty years ago. Styles in furnishings change from period to period, but fortunately for the household budget, these changes are not so frequent as in clothes. Nevertheless, they occur. What to us of the middle of the twentieth century seems an ornate, over-crowded room was a satisfying one to the housewife of the last half of the nineteenth century. It was one she had planned and in a general way it was like her neighbors. It belonged to that period.

A combination bookcase and desk in one picture is heavy and carved in much detail. Chairs vary from the very fragile slender legged type to an overstuffed nail studded leather chair. There is even one platform rocker. Tables of various sizes occupy much space, most of them with lace trimmed covers reaching almost to the floor. Though the main lighting is from center-of-the-room electric chandeliers, there is also an oil lamp in the center of most of these tables. Portieres are heavy and fringed, pictures in ornate frames cover much of the wall space. One fireplace has a spinning wheel as its chief ornament. Every mantle and table has its knick-knacks in profuse abundance, even an open fan held upright in small stand in one instance.

And yet as one looks at these rooms of a by-gone era one feels the truth of a quotation in the booklet, “our dwellings to be pleasant to us must not only express creature comforts, but be a part of our lives – the better part. Home to be home should have comfort throughout and individuality in detail.”

Another quotation, this time from Cowper, gives a very cheery picture of what these interiors might mean, “Now stir the fire and close the shutters fast, let fall the curtains, whirl the sofa round, and, while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn throws up a steamy column, and the cups that cheer, but not inebriate, wait on each, so let us welcome peaceful evening in.”

The booklet closes with the following paragraph written especially for it by Whittier Wendell, of Philadelphia, a cousin of Mrs. Margaret Wendell Hess, of Wayne, and the late Herman Wendell. It was written for the booklet at the especial request of Mr. Wendell:

“Wayne is a picturesque little town, nestled amid ideal hills, each one of which is an historic mile-stone to patriotic Americans, where the home-life is felt, seen and enjoyed in actuality. It seems hardly creditable that a half-hour’s ride from Broad Street will suffice to place us in the midst of so refreshing a contrast as it presents to city life. As the evening hours bring home the business men, the sombre walks become gay with moving bits of color; solitary pedestrians are quickly attached to merry groups; lingering partings take place at the hedge-bordered gate-ways, and childish trebles mingle harmoniously with the soft hour, while on every face is that unmistakable writing, ‘Home again.’ And such homes! To enter them has been my privilege, but to faithfully describe the ingenious combination of art and practicality therein, is beyond me.

“A prosy enumeration of the hundred and one things dear to housewifely eyes were possible, ‘tis true; I might tell of pantries, ample closets in unlooked-for spots, cunningly devised dust excluders, artistic windows, perfect blending in paper, tiles and plaster, unique surprises everywhere, but then the half is left untold, for the genie of the home is absent. It will not answer this enumerative call; one must approach more subtly, would be feel the blessing it sheds so markedly over Wayne’s dwellings. Whenever I think of this most delightful Philadelphia suburb, I feel Payne’s song piping to my pen, and it must dance.

“It was Confucius who said, ‘If I am building a mountain and stop before the last basketful is placed upon the summit, I have failed in my work; but if I have placed one basketful on the plain and go on, I am really building a mountain.’ The significance of this expression comes to me every time I set foot in Wayne, there is such an air of thoughtful determination to establish amid the natural surroundings so munificently provided, a Lilliputian city of Homes, worthy of the name. The water that the Wayneites drink is right from the hills, the air they breathe redolent and invigorating with mountain odors, and the recreation they enjoy innocent, healthful, and in touch with the times. Everything that the forethought and inspiration of artistic craftsmen can design is there, and the happy, healthful moral tone of the citizens shows with what appreciation the work is received.”

Unbuilt St. Davids house, S. Wayne homes – John H. Watt, Saturday Club

The end of the booklet lent me by Miss Beatrice Tees upon which the last several articles have been based shows “Our Latest Plan.” Familiar as is the writer with Wayne and St. Davids houses, she cannot cite for her readers an example of this type of home. Perhaps one like it was never built for the description states “No price can be named for this handsome house until the ground it will occupy is first known. This is one of several special plans which we will build to order at a reasonable price, on any selected ground of one tract. We invite an interview with those needing homes of this high class order.”

So if anyone among our readers has failed to identify his home among those especially described, it may be built from “one of these special plans.”

“After “five years of intelligent and systematic development” of Wayne’s home building, a booklet of another type was printed illustrating the changes and improvements that had been made.

There was one “before and after” picture; several interior views; pictures of the homes of several of Wayne’s leading citizens and pictures of its churches, its school and of its bank. That was the original small Wayne Title and Trust Company building, as many of us still remember it before the present larger building took its place on the same site. There was also a picture of the Wayne Country Club during a cricket match between its team and the Belmont Summer Eleven.

Among the homes of prominent citizens was the residence of John H. Watt, father of Louis Watt, who was for many years president of the Wayne Title and Trust Company. This is the house at the southeast corner of Louella avenue and Upland way, purchased about thirty years ago by John H. Stone and still occupied by members of his family.

The picture shows that there have ben few, if any, changes in the exterior of the large stone and shingle house since it was originally built. A neighboring home, demolished about twelve years ago, is also illustrated. It was the spacious house of Frederick H. Treat at the northeast corner of Louella avenue and Upland way, directly across from the original Watt home. The vacant lot now used by a group of badminton players who have their own fireplace and picnic tables has been purchased by the Christian Science Church, now having headquarters at the Saturday Club. In the not too distant future they will erect their own church building on the old Treat property.

Pictures of two neighboring houses in St. Davids are also shown, one being that of C. S. Walton, on St. Davids road, just where it is joined by Midland avenue. With scarcely any exterior changes it is now the home of the son of the original owner, Charles S. Walton, Jr., who with his family has lived there for a number of years. Directly across the street from the Walton home was the equally impressive residence set in spacious grounds and owned by John W. Yeatts. The years have brought some changes both in the exterior and the interior of this house, which is now owned by Dr. Louis Edward Silcox.

Still another house pictured in this booklet was the residence of State Treasurer John W. Morrison, located at the corner of Chestnut land and Eagle road.

It was one of the houses of the “New Tower” type and is described as having a “southern exposure sheltered on the north and east by the woods, open to the southwest slope, as a house should be.”

(To Be Continued)

Period Descriptions of S. Wayne houses

The next South Wayne and St. Davids house to be described in the real estate pamphlet is of the type best known to the writer of all of those listed, since she lived with her family in one of them for more than twenty years. This was at 431 Midland avenue, St. Davids. these houses had, according to our real estate scribe “a design of very substantial and roomy interior. Cut stone gable on he front, in which a stone archway forms the entrance, has a slate roof” (By the time of our residing in the Midland avenue house these slates had become very loose, and fell of at most inopportune moments, mostly during a rain storm!)

The first floor had “a large reception room and library, with open fireplace, same built of stone. Wide hallway to the stairs, dining room with corner cupboards for china; pantry, kitchen and out kitchen, rear stairs and a porch at the back door.” The usual “five spacious chambers” were on the second floor. Three of them communicated. All were well lighted and every one opening to the hallway. Bathroom and closets on this floor, while on the third floor were “two large bedrooms, two closets and a store room.” This house sold for $9,000 “and upwards.”

Large as some of these houses were, not one boasted more than one bathroom! A modern house of similar size has three or four with a powder room to boot! Sixty years ago powder rooms were an unknown quantity.

Houses such as those at 206 Windermere avenue and at 317 Midland avenue were of “a very old and tasty bit of rural architecture. Quite roomy and comfortable. A wide porch at the front entrance extending along the side of the house. Special features are stairs in a turret, open grates in library and parlor and the general compactness.” And while it had but the usual one bathroom this is especially described as “large.” The price on this home was $8,500 “and upwards.”

The next home on the list is exteriorly so like the one described in last week’s column that it is probably often considered the same by the casual observer. One of these is at 214 Windermere avenue, but it is but one of many! It sold originally for $8,000 “and upwards.” The description is very brief “This is an improvement on the ‘Round End’ house shown on page 9. made larger in some ways, and with a different class of finish, this plan seems to have met a need, and gained popularity with those requiring a spacious house in the country. This house recommends itself,” and the author of the booklet let it go at that!

Still another style of architecture is exemplified by such houses as the one at 401 Midland avenue. Again this id by one example of many from which the writer had to choose. Selling at “$8,000” and the usual “and upwards,” this plan “is a unique model of cosiness. The rooms are fair sized an well arranged for light and comfort. A shady porch all along one side with a return to the front entrance. Interior, about the same number of rooms as the other plans of this classification. This house will suit any ordinary family.”

And then comes an illustration of a house which is seen as frequently as any house in the vicinity and more frequently than many. Examples of this are 420 Midland avenue and 314 Midland avenue. For some reason it sold for only $7,000 though with the usual qualifying phrase “and upwards.” “This class of house,” reads our description, “is an improvement over the ‘Pillar Houses’ built last season. The parlor has been enlarged, and some 15 houses just like it have been sold, and those who live in them are highly pleased with their investments. In one St. Davids area a house of this plan sold before finished.”

If by chance any Wayne Estate owner has not yet found his house described as yet in this column, the answer may possibly be found in next week’s issue.

Vintage train fares, S. Wayne houses

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.

Period descriptions of N. Wayne houses – Wendell & Smith, W.L. Price

“Wholesale building” of Wayne Estate houses as explained in last week’s column, resulted in much duplication of the architectural plans of which there were, however, quite a number. Some of the first plans had distinctive names. One was the “Gabled Inn,” of which the first were scheduled to be built on North Wayne and Woodland avenues. However, a walk around present day North Wayne shows that this plan must have gained much favor as there are several “Gabled Inns” on most of the streets. 407 North Wayne avenue and its next door neighbor, 409, are examples of this type. Our booklet states that it “has good porches and contains reception room with large square hall and oak stairway, living room with open grate and mantel, dining room, pantry, kitchen and out kitchen on first floor, and five chambers and bathroom on second floor, with a room in the roof for servant’s use or storage purposes. A thoroughly cozy home. Plumbing as good as the best. Stairway of oak, furniture finish. Back stairs.” On a lot 60 x 200 this type house was built to sell for $5,500.

The “Flemish House” was somewhat larger, although planned for the same sized lot os the “Gables Inn.” It sold for $7,000. Its special features seem to have been “a portico on the front,” – handsome effects in colored glass” and a unique mantel. These were originally built on Chestnut and Beechtree lanes and on Woodland avenue. 407 Woodland avenue and 214 and 218 Beechtree lane are examples of this type.

The “Round End House,” designed after “Old English homes” was placed on a lot 120 x 225 and priced at $8,000. “A large open living room with liberal fireplace, yet secluded from hall, is the chief feature of this plan” according to our booklet. Originally scheduled for Woodland avenue, this type house is also found pretty generally throughout Wayne. Number 325 Beechtree lane is one example of this plan.

The “New Tower House” had a 155 foot lot and sold originally for $9,500. Numbers 213 and 131 Beechtree lane are of this type. This merited a very flowery description in the early advertisements. “A very picturesque exterior. Large well shaded portico on the front. A very attractive thirteen room house with carved oak staircase. Hardwood finish on the first floor and home-like corners for your furniture. Tasteful effects in stained glass rundells. The very best of everything in this home.”

Examples of the “Pillar House” may be seen at 310 Oak lane; 129 Walnut avenue and 419 North Wayne avenue. This house was built of stone and brick, “pebble coated to second story” on a lot 113 x 230. Here is the first mention of “Stationary soapstone washing tubs.” There were “two rooms third floor; good closets in every room – A novel effect has been produced by joining the back and main stairways and putting a glass window over both. This is quite a feature in this plan.” The price of this house was $8,250.

The architect for the “Gables Inn” was J. C. Worthington, with offices at 755 Walnut street in Philadelphia. The other four houses were designed by the firm of F. L. and W. L. Price, of 731 Walnut street.

While houses were being sold in North Wayne to the extent of “a half million dollars worth to satisfied purchasers . . . the south side, on Lancaster avenue, near St. Davids station and the adjoining territory, has another half a million dollars worth of houses now under way. Most of them will be ready for the early fall market.” (This is quoted from the September 1890 edition of the advertising brochure.) Plans for “all of these Country Homes, which are on a plateau in Delaware County’s highlands” had been adopted at this time. All were to have “the best of plumbing, with the novel goodness of steam heat and tasty decorations in stained glass and tile work and oak and plate glass finish for first floors. Places of so much progressiveness, with great and meritorious work, should receive your attention, either for present or future needs.”

These houses do not have the distinguishing names that were given to the North Wayne houses. However, the writer has endeavored to identify each of the different types by giving the location of one or more of these South Wayne and St. Davids houses. Here, as in the first houses built by Wendell and Smith, there is the same duplication throughout the sections. Prices are much the same as the earlier ones, but the gratifying phrase “and upwards” is always added! The architects were F. L. and W. L. Price, who designed so many of the North Wayne houses. Presumably the terms of sale were practically the same, “$2,000 in cash, or other terms can be arranged if desired” with title “guaranteed by prominent trust companies in Philadelphia and Wayne, who will give prompt attention to all conveyancing matters entrusted to their care.”

This development on the South side of the railroad will be described in next week’s column.

Descriptions from real estate booklets – Edison Electrical Light Plant

Those who read our column last week know that no householder among those purchasing Wayne Estate homes in the late eighties and early nineties needed to “fear a dark or lonely walk, or a gloomy house.” This was because of the “Edison Electrical Light” plant which was one of the prides of Wayne of the time, and well it might be, since parts of Philadelphia were still lighted by gas. And, indeed, Wayne was one of the first towns in the country to have electric light! Of it another advertisement, in addition to the one quoted last week, states: “The Edison incandescent light is generally used on the avenues and in the houses. The service is entirely satisfactory, and removes the fear of loneliness and makes the night time as pleasant as the day. This modern light has now become as safe and economical as gas for domestic use, while from a health standpoint it is far superior, for it cannot vitiate the air.” This particular advantage may be as novel to many of our readers as it was to the writer!

Of Wayne’s “clean wholesome water” our pamphlet states, “Generally speaking, rain water which falls in remote country-districts is the purest. It is this pure water that finds its way to the springs that abundantly supply the unrivaled water system of Wayne. This water is carefully protected from all local contaminations, and is pumped into the 250,000 gallon brick-lined reservoir, and distributed by gravity to the houses. The water supply of Wayne is absolutely free from deleterious mineral or organic matter; is clear and sparkling to the eye, and cool and pleasant to the taste.”

It must have been shortly after this was written that the original reservoir was enlarged – for a caption on the later one gives the capacity as 1,500,000 gallons. This picture is a most attractive one, showing the large body of water, “clear and sparkling,” entirely surrounded by a white picket fence and bordered by trees. The description reads “The quality of the water furnished to the inhabitants cannot be excelled. The growth of the town necessitating an increased supply, it was procured by means of artesian wells, remote from the built-up portion, and a new reservoir of large capacity was constructed upon a point so high that houses upon the highest hills in Wayne are supplied from it by gravity. The supply of water is ample, and its source being entirely in the control of the Wayne Estate, the amount can be increased as exigency arises, and its purity assured.”

It is not so many years since this reservoir located on the west side of Radnor road on the property now owned by Valley Forge Military Academy, went out of existence.

Among the “Town Conveniences” listed in the pamphlets and not already enumerated in our column are “a well-organized and equipped Fire Department and uniformed Police Patrol – which add to the safety of the town – “ And since these were the days before the advent of the automobile it was important that there was a “Good Livery Stable and Station Conveyances when they are needed. – These advantages, go to every purchaser, and the prices are less than elsewhere, where these conveniences cannot be obtained. – Wayne is thoroughly homelike, without the usual deprivations of country life, and its homes show a practical housekeeping wit in their planning – at no point near Philadelphia is there such activity in real estate, most of the purchases being made before the houses were finished. Business and professional people have made Wayne their permanent home, which demonstrates that its worth has met with suitable recognition. The wisdom of locating here has been demonstrated to the most conservative investors.”

The enterprise of Wendell and Smith, “Home Builders,” is witnessed by the fact that they had offices at both stations, Wayne and St. Davids, that were open all day. Houses could be inspected not only on week-days, but on Sundays as well. All of them were “within five minutes walk of the station.” And to these prospective purchasers these enterprising realtors stated, “Arrangement can be made to build any kind of a house you prefer, but a selection of one of the following plans will be to the advantage of the buyer, in that we will share with you the profit of wholesale building” – And many must have taken advantage of this “wholesale building,” judging by the vast duplication of houses which puzzles newcomers to our town of Wayne!

Original steam heat, sewage – central heating Edison Electrical Light Plant

Safeguards for the future health of home owners of the Wayne Estate houses were listed in one of several booklets printed in the late eighties and early nineties by Wendell and Smith, “Home Builders,” as “Pure Water and Air,” “Thoroughly Tight Underground Drainage,” “Substantial Highways,” “Edison Electric Light” and “Steam Heat from a Central Plant.”

Since the discontinuation of “central heat” only last month after some 60 years of continuous service has been a subject uppermost in the minds of many a homeowner, it is interesting to note how these early booklets advertised it.

One says: “Steam heat will be provided for these country home places for next winter. This is an economical, health-giving, and comfortable warmth fro homes. The regulation of the heat in our houses and the avoidance of too high a temperature in winter would certainly lessen the number of preventable diseases. This opinion is held by practically all physicians and sanitary experts, who agree that steam heat has assumed valuable importance to mankind’s health and comfort. It is only lately, however, that a practical system has been adopted in this country in any save the residences of the wealthy. “The Holly System” which will be in operation here, delivers the heat in the same way that water and gas reach your house, obviating the trouble and annoyance of heater attention.”

Two of the other booklets speak of the ease with which this heat is controlled by the occupants of the houses. “Civilized Society,” one advertisement states, “demands the best service which science can master in supplying its necessities and to practically minister to its everyday comforts. Steam heat for domestic use is the most modern application to those needs. A plant for this purpose has been erected in Southeastern Wayne, near St. Davids station, from which point the supply will be distributed to the houses of the town.

“Accustomed to the safe and economical city conveniences of light and water, we can hardly realize that invention has provided steam heat for dwelling houses in the country, and at a price about what is regularly paid for the use and care of heater fires. The heat is supplied by a pipe line into the houses, under the easy control of the occupants, and it is thoroughly safe. The system in use here is that of the Holly system which furnishes a remedy for the evils of impure air, excessive heat and bad ventilation, and also obviates the annoyances of heater attention and ashes and their removal.”

And as one who for many years regulated the temperature in her own home by the simple turn of a wheel-like valve just above the floor in the living room, the writer is more than willing to go on record that the system did “obviate the annoyances of heater attention.” In spite of the antiquated features of that Holly system many a homeowner has rebelled at exchanging it for a more modern gas, oil, or coal furnace. Besides which, many houses built for central heating have proved not too adaptable to individual furnaces.

Of drainage, one advertisement states in its opening sentence: “There are no cess-pools in Wayne.” Amplifying this statement another continues: “The perfect sewage system designed and constructed by Colonel George E. Waring, Jr., is in successful operation. It is not only a pride to its projector, but a wonder in the scientific world. To the utility of this system is due the fact that there is not a single cess-pool in Wayne, and that every house is underdrained. The waster from the house passes through sewage pipes into a common main and thence to a point probably a mile and a half from the Opera House, where by a most interesting process it is part purified, part neutralized, and part destroyed.”

So much for Wayne’s early sewage system. The history of the vicissitudes of later systems can be described adequately only by the members of the Board of Township Commissioners, who struggled valiantly with the perplixing aspects of local sewage over the years.

The promoters of early Wayne were obviously very proud of its lighting system, as witnessed by the following paragraph: “Light, after pure water and good drainage, is one of the necessary luxuries which the man of today demands in his search for comfort. No one would wish to live in a suburban town where the necessaries of life only were procurable, and the lack of satisfactory light keeps the residents of most suburban towns home at night. Wayne has a local Edison Electrical Light Plant, which illuminates its avenues and its homes, and no householder need fear a dark or lonely walk, or a gloomy house.”

Old real estate booklets – Wendell & Smith, George W. Childs

“Out in the country Wayne and St. Davids have ready for you today the best homes that can be built.” In bold lettering this statement appears in the center of a 20 by 28 inch circular distributed in 1890 by Wendell and Smith to advertise the “Wayne Estate” houses that are to this day such an integral part of our community.

Built throughout both North and South Wayne as well as in St. Davids, these houses of substantial construction and roomy interior still survive among neighboring homes of newer design and of more modern architecture. They are not beautiful, and yet they have a charm of their own. Their elaborately gabled roofs are one of their most distinguishing exterior features. Most of them are of at least partial stone construction, some are shingled, others pebble-coated. Many originally had a stained-glass window or two somewhere in the house. Other windows are often of heavy plate glass while stairways and mantle places are of massive oak, often elaborately carved.

Alterations, remodeling and additions never disguise these houses, frequently as these changes have been made by succeeding owners. They are still the ornate houses of the 1890 period so aptly described by their original designations, “The Flemish House,” the “New Tower House,” the Round End House,” the “Gables Inn” and the “Pillar House.” The repetition of the same types throughout the community is a source of interest, often of amazement to the newcomer. It is, in fact, one of the most distinguishing features of our community.

Most of the houses have always been surrounded by spacious grounds. Few have been either demolished or destroyed by fire. Sixty years after their construction these Wayne Estate houses still stand serenely in our midst.

Wayne as a town was founded by Anthony J. Drexel and George W. Childs. From 1887 to about 1890 its population increased from 300 to 2500. Much of this increase was due to the large building operation sponsored by Mr. Childs and described in the advertisement which I have already quoted.

These “best homes” have “every city convenience, pure water in abundance, underground drainage, electric light and steam heating. The highways are spacious and substantial. There are good schools, stores and churches, a banking institution, fire department and police patrol.”

Other conveniences as listed included “telegraph, telephone and Adams Express Service, two newspapers, seven daily mails, a town hall for entertainments, a casino for recreation.”

Then, our description continues, “these varied conveniences, unobtainable elsewhere outside of large cities, put these places pre-eminently in advance of all suburban towns, and a salubrious climate, where malaria is unknown, give to home buyers extraordinary assurance for comfort and health. This opportunity will exist for a short time only, for when the ground that is connected with the water and drainage system is built up, each owner will demand a premium.”

“The advantages go to every purchaser and the prices are less than elsewhere, where these conveniences cannot be obtained. Business and professional people have made permanent homes here, which demonstrates that its worth has met with suitable recognition while the wisdom of locating here is acknowledged by the most conservative investors.”

Present day real estate ad writers could well take note of some of this phrasing. And this in not all, as the advertisement of sixty years ago continues, “This locality is far superior to the usual unestablished places in the suburbs of Philadelphia. It has every general improvement in perfect working order and was founded by George W. Childs, of Philadelphia, who is the protector of its prosperity, present and future, and who is personally represented by Mr. Frank Smith, the manager of Wayne Estate, under whose supervision all general improvements are made and maintained and who is always on the grounds to show visitors the properties. His office is now on Wayne avenue, south of the railroad.”

The office referred to is the shop now occupied by Wayne Frosted Foods, Inc. In addition to this Wayne office there was “the new one for the public comfort at St. Davids station.” This is the attractive small stone residence southwest of the station and familiar to all St. Davids commuters.

Wendell and Smith were the builders of these houses which will be described in succeeding issues of this column, since much interesting material has been made available to the writer by Miss Beatrice Tees and Joseph M. Fronefield, 3d.

Old photos, “Town Fathers” – early businessmen, Mrs. Lienhardt

In a large envelope of pictures of old Wayne, lent to me recently by Miss Beatrice Tees, there are some real treasures, including a booklet published by Wendell and Smith, Home Builders, showing all the different types of houses which we now know as the “Wayne Estate Houses.” Later descriptions from this booklet will answer some of the many questions asked me in regard to the history of these homes.

However, there are three pictures in the lot that are of a time before the Wendell and Smith homes. One is entitled “Commuting in 1870”, and shows the first Wayne station on the Pennsylvania Railroad. It is the building now standing slightly to the west of the Wayne Hotel, and used as sleeping quarters for the hotel workers. The caption of the picture says, “During the summer of 1870 residents of Wayne swished through a cornfield to catch the eight-fifteen to Philadelphia. The smaller building in the picture . . . is the waiting room of the Wayne station of the Pennsylvania Railroad. But J. Henry Askin, one of the founders of Wayne, was not so slow or democratic either for he had a private waiting room for his family in the big house adjoining. The station was located to the rear of the Wayne Presbyterian Church and the picture was taken from the cornfield that is now part of the Wayne Hotel property. Although the cottage still stands, the waiting room building was transported to Strafford.”

The second picture of this lot is called “Hitching Post Days”, and shows the large double building of which the Lienhardt store is still a part. Its caption reads: “The Fronefield building ion the southeast corner of what is now Lancaster Pike and Wayne Avenue, in 1890 had ties in its hitching post to accommodate any number of buggies. The vacant half of the store was occupied by Lienhardt’s Bakery, and this part of the building is still standing . . . For a time the Wayne Post Office was housed there.”

The third picture shows that part of the present business block to the east of the Fronefield building as it originally looked. It is called “Business in the Eighties”, and its caption reads: “Where shoppers park their cars nowadays in the Wayne business section . . . there were trees, grass and shrubbery in the eighties. This picture was taken of the south side of Lancaster Pike, east of the Fronefield building. By the aid of a magnifying glass you can read the curb market sign “Christmas Tress for Sale’. In those days merchants and residents were not troubled seriously by the sidewalk problem. A narrow roadway was all that the horses and wagon traffic demanded. Business had no need of a street canopy to keep the sun out because buyers shopped in comfort beneath ample shade trees.”

Of the “Town Fathers”, one Wayne historian, whose notes have been made available to me, mentions first J. Henry Askin, “the Pioneer of 1865”, who built Louella House, the Bloomingdale Avenue houses, and gave property for the Wayne Presbyterian Church. This same historian describes Joseph M. Fronefield as the “First business man”, opening his drug store in the east end of the Lyceum building in 1882 and later moving across the Pike. James C. Pinkerton was the first president of the Electric Light Company, started in 1886. Incidentally, Wayne was the second town in the country to have electricity. Many office buildings in Philadelphia were still using gas at the time.

Fred C. Hallowell was instrumental in starting the Wayne Title and Trust Company. T. Stewart Wood and Joseph C. Egbert, members of the early school board, were responsible for the high school in Wayne Henry Pleasants “saved the name of Wayne for the town when there was a strong idea of changing it.” He was also the historian of this section. The name of Herman Wendell, who came here with the Childs-Drexel operation, will always be associated with the improvement and beauty of the town.

R. H. Johnson built most of the local roads and did most of the landscaping which enhanced the charm of Wayne. Theodore Ramsey had a general store in the Lyceum where everything “from a plough to a hairpin” could be purchased.

There must have been many others who deserved the title of “Town Father”, but here the historian’s list ended. She did pay high tribute to “our Town Mother”, however, when she described Mrs. Helena Lienhardt’s place in Wayne history. Mrs. Lienhardt came to Wayne in 1885 and opened a bakery in the same location in which the present one of the same name still operates. “Mrs. Lienhardt”, our historian comments, “was a splendid business woman and an outstanding person of those days, and as long as she lived held a warm place in the hearts of Wayne people. And what a Mecca that store was for children!”

(to be continued)