Wayne’s wealth of religious institutions has always been one of its most attractive attributes. Churches make up a large part of Wayne’s center, as well as its outlying areas. Each church’s history is extensive enough for its own page, but because there are so many, their histories have been condensed into a single page.
Old St. David’s Church
Wayne, Valley Forge Rd.
Old St. David’s Church is the oldest extant church in Radnor Township. It is also one of the oldest buildings in the township, having been built in 1714. The small, simple, stone church has been called one of the most famous churches in Pennsylvania. It is one of the most documented as well. In 1876 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow penned a poem entitled “Old St. David’s.” In the early 20th Century, Henry Pleasants wrote an entire book on Old St. David’s, which included information on each pastor, church activities, sermons, etc. It is also one of the most photographed buildings in Radnor, with many different postcards produced. In 1888, the members of the church built a Rectory on Valley Forge Rd., which was demolished in the 1950’s for a new parish house.
Wayne Presbyterian Church
Wayne, Lancaster Ave.
The Wayne Presbyterian Church was founded by J. Henry Askin in 1870 to appease the religious needs of his growing community. The first services were held in Wayne Hall, on Lancaster and Lyceum Aves. Askin then gave land and $25,000 for a new stone church to be built on Lancaster Ave. right next to his public recreation center, Lyceum Hall. The dedication service was conducted by Charles Wadsworth. His son, Charles Jr., headed the ceremonies for the next building in 1892. Originally, North Wayne Ave. ran in between the church and the hall. When the need for a new, larger church arose, North Wayne Ave. had for a time been moved to the other side of the Lyceum, and that land could be used for a new church building. That land had also been the site of the church’s stables. The new church, with its bell tower at rear, was constructed in 1892 on land given by George W. Childs. The Presbyterian Parsonage was located on North Wayne Ave., but had been overtaken by stores after only a few years. Over the years the church made several other additions, including a brick rear addition to the original chapel, and the most recent addition, an arched connection between the 1870 chapel and 1892 church.
Radnor Presbyterian Church
Wayne, Windemere Ave. and Louella Ave.
The Radnor Presbyterian Church was located in a tudor-style building located next to the Radnor High School on Windemere Ave. The Church was in close proximity to the public schools, and the land on which it was located is now the property of the School District. The first minister of the Church, Rev. Frank C. Putnam, was installed on March 10, 1908. The Church building was dedicated a day later. The building was built on the side of a hill, and a stone bridge had to be built to the building’s entrance. Due to the popularity of the Wayne Presbyterian Church just down the street, less is known about Radnor Presbyterian. The church was disbanded sometime in the early half of the century, the building demolished, and the land became part of the School District. There is no trace of the building left, however on the approximate site of it there are several gray stones in the ground. Could these be part of the church’s foundation?
Radnor Baptist Church
Also called First Baptist Church, Wayne Baptist Church
Wayne, West Wayne Ave. and Conestoga Rd.
Disbanded in 1951
One of Radnor’s oldest religious organizations, behind St. David’s Episcopal, was the Radnor Baptist Church. The first home of the Church was in the Radnor Scientific and Musical Hall, built in 1832 by Willam Siter. The Siter family was prominent in the area in that time, and at one point the location around what is now Strafford was called Siterville. Located directly behind the new church was the school house, built in 1841. In 1889 the old church building was replaced by a new stone building. The Church was demolished in 1951, and stores were built in its place, namely Conestoga Hardware. Today the schoolhouse still remains, as a private dwelling. The cemetery also remains between the schoolhouse and the old P&W trolley line. Since the Church was disbanded, it is remarkable that these few relics remain.
Central Baptist Church
Wayne, Lancaster Ave.
Though Radnor had a Baptist church already, a new one was officially formed as the Central Baptist Church in December of 1896. They held their first meeting three years before in 1893 at Charles Walton’s house, the original Walmarthon (not the future Eastern University) at St. David’s Rd. and Midland Ave. The group later went on to build the Central Baptist Church in the heart of Wayne. The structure was built by Jonathan Lengel in 1897-98 from a design by David K. Boyd. The church’s centralized location on Lancaster Ave. was similar to that of the Presbyterian Church. The original design of the church was interesting: the rectangular tower had a cone-shaped top, and the building had a covered driveway overhang. Both elements are gone today, although most of the original stone building remains intact. The first services in the Church were held on April 3, 1898. Another branch of the Church was the Second Baptist Church of Wayne, located on Highland Ave. This Church was formed some time before 1900.
St. Mary’s Episcopal Church
Wayne, Lancaster and Louella Ave.
The cornerstone of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church was laid on June 27, 1889. It held its opening services April 6, 1890. At that time construction had yet to be cleaned up, and worshippers had to enter using a long wooden plank extended over the dirt. The Church was built by Rev. Thomas K. Conrad, as a memorial to his parents, Harry and Hannah. It was designed by Wilson Brothers and Company, architects, who had designed the Wayne Train Station as well as many of the buildings at the Centennial Exhibition in 1876. The Church’s rectory, built at the same time as the Church, was converted into the Radnor Township Building in 1928. In 1969, St. Mary’s fell victim to an extensive fire. The blaze collapsed the roof and destroyed a substantial portion of the stonework. However, contrary to many other churchs’ practices in the time, St. Mary’s rebuilt the Church to exactly the same specifications as the original design.
Wayne Methodist Episcopal Church
Wayne, South Wayne Ave.
The Wayne M.E. Church was designed by C.A. Davis and T.P. Lonsdale. It was dedicated on June 28, 1891. In 1965, the original stone church was demolished to accommodate a newer and larger brick building, with a very tall spire. This building remains to this day.
St. Katherine of Siena Church
Wayne, Lancaster and Aberdeen Ave.
St. Katherine’s was established in 1893, although their church was not dedicated until August 30, 1896. The land for the Church was given by the Wayne Estate. In 1917 the Church established a private elementary school, and later established a girl’s high school. The original stone church was demolished in 1965 (a bad year for Wayne churches) and was replaced by a newer church with a modern design. St. Katherine’s school has been expanding over the years, and recently built a new gymnasium.