Category Archives: History

Wayne in the Movies

Oh, Johnny!

Oh, Johnny! was filmed in 1918 at the Walmarthon Estate, in St. Davids. The film was directed by Ira M. Lowry, and was produced by Sigmund Lubin, who ran the Betzwood Studios in Valley Forge. Shortly after the making of the movie, Betzwood Studios was sold. Lubin was responsible for many film studios across the country, the most advanced of which was in Philadelphia, and also opened numerous theatres across Philadelphia.

Oh, Johnny! was a Western comedy, was written by Wilson Bayley, and the cinematography was by David Calcagni. The film is especially important locally because it shows the Walmarthon water wheel, a dinner party on the estate’s patio, and swimming and diving in Willow Lake. There are also scenes inside the mansion.

The full cast includes:

Louis Bennison as Johnny Burke
Alphonse Ethier as John Bryson
Edward Roseman as Charlie Romero
John Daly Murphy as Van Pelt Butler
Frank Goldsmith as Earl of Barncastle
Virginia Lee (I) as Adele Butler
Anita Cortez as Dolores
Louise Brownell as Mrs. Van Pelt Butler
Russell Simpson as Adele’s Father
Frank Evans (I) as Undetermined Role (uncredited)
Ralph Naim as Undetermined Role (uncredited)

The original Betzwood Studio in Valley Forge today, unfortunately falling to ruin.
Click on the image to see a larger version
Photo courtesy of The Waltonian

The Philadelphia Story

It is no secret around the Main Line that The Philadelphia Story, starring Katherine Hepburn and James Stewart, was based upon the life of Hope Montgomery Scott, of Radnor’s famous Montgomery Scott family. It is, however, little known that a scene in the 1949 movie was filmed right in Wayne. The Wayne Memorial Library, on Lancaster Ave. directly across from the Anthony Wayne Movie Theatre, was used to film a single scene in the movie.


Anyone who can provide more information on the production of Taps and the influence the movie had on Wayne would be much appreciated.

Starring George C. Scott, Timothy Hutton, Sean Penn and Tom Cruise, Taps is the story of Military Academy Cadets who try to save their School from imposing condo developers. A warlike cloud descends on the town as the overly militaristic cadets do anything to protect their school. A warlike cloud also fell upon Wayne as the movie was being filmed in 1980 and 1981. The Military Academy used for the film was none other than Valley Forge Military Academy. Taps was one of Tom Cruise’s first movies, and was Sean Penn’s debut role. Several of the main actors, including Hutton, Cruise and Penn, went through a 45 day long orientation and training at VFMA. Most of these actors did well at the training, and even enjoyed it, although Tom Cruise decided his time was better spent relaxing at a local hotel. It’s not known what hotel this was, although it was likely one on the Main Line.

The Suburban and Wayne Times donated their front window to be used for a Cafe. The Lancaster County Farmer’s Market made an appearance. Numerous other local landmarks can be seen throughout the movie. One of the pivitol scenes in the movie took place on North Wayne Avenue, where one of the cadets’ two trucks break down, and they are assaulted by a town gang. Pictures from this scene can be seen below. One Wayne resident at the time said it seemed to be the “biggest thing ever to hit Wayne.” Ironically, in 2000 the Valley Forge Military Academy was trying to build a condo-like establishment on their property. Though no cadets rebelled, the surrounding neighborhood sure did.

Wayne’s Main Intersection

The house which stood for over fifty years on the Northwest corner was constructed around 1883. Since Lancaster Avenue was narrower then, there was room for a lawn and picket fence. When J. Henry Askin moved out of Louella, he lived here until relocating to Florida in the 1880s. It was bought by Lizzie Pugh Fronefield from Christopher and Emma Fallon. At this time the building was a residence with a post office on the side facing N. Wayne Ave. The post office moved out around 1900, and the residence was divided into two stores, one facing Wayne Ave, the other on the corner. Mr. Wemmer operated the “Wayne Mart” on the corner until Mr. Stafford took over in 1910. An addition was made to the rear in about 1905, and Louis de Louis’s tailor shop moved in. David H. Henderson opened a fish market there a decade later. It was taken over by Earl Frankenfeld around 1947. The corner store was home to a variety store operated by William A. Miller and his wife. The store became known as “Miller’s Store,” and its large signs advertised “Breyers Ice Cream  Stationery  Candy  |  Candy & Toys  Coca-Cola  Novelties.” Mrs. Miller died in early 1949, and electrical appliance / floor coverings store Cobb & Lawless took over the space. Cobb & Lawless already operated in the store to the left, in the same building, and reopened with both storefronts later in 1949. They painted all the brickwork white and remodeled the building so that the first floor was at ground level. In 1951 the house caught fire, and Cobb & Lawless were forced to build a new building on the corner. The new structure was just one story tall, and featured many large display windows. Wayne Jewelers and Silversmiths, who had operated for a few years in the Anthony Wayne Theatre building, moved to this location after Cobb & Lawless moved out.

The house in 1919, before it was completely commercial.
From “Radnor: A Pictorial History”A truck at the corner in front of the building. It is unsure what function this truck had.
Radnor Historical Society Collection

Miller’s Store, 1948.
From “Radnor: A Pictorial History”


The building in 1949, when Miller’s Store just moved out and Cobb & Lawless was ready to expand.
Radnor Historical Society Collection

The fire which gutted Cobb & Lawless in 1951. After this they were forced to rebuild.
Radnor Historical Society Collection


Cobb & Lawless’s new building.
Radnor Historical Society Collection


Here’s what the corner would look like today if the original house were still there.
GP Graphic


The Wayne Title & Trust Co. was founded in 1890 by local businessmen. They had their building designed by William L. Price and constructed on the Southwest corner in the same year. It was enlarged very soon after. The building is notable for housing many important local establishments, like the office of builder J.D. Lengel. It was also the first home of the Radnor Township Commissioners. They met in the Title & Trust building from 1901 to 1928. In 1930 a whole new Title & Trust Co. building was built, with huge columns and an overall square design. It still stands on the corner. The Company was bought by the First Pennsylvania Banking and Trust Co. on March 16, 1956. It operated as a bank until the late 1990s, when the building was taken over by U.S. Trust.

The original stone building before enlargements.
Radnor Historical Society Collection


The enlarged building.
From “Radnor: A Pictorial History”


The building on the Southeast corner was commercial from the very beginning. It was built about 1884, and at that time pharmacist J.M. Fronefield moved there from the Opera House. Fronefield was postmaster of the General Wayne post office, which operated in this building starting 1885. Harry LaDow bought the drugstore in 1910. The left half of the building was occupied by Lienhardt’s Bakery, which took over Stritzinger’s Bakery in 1887. Lienhardt’s became famous locally for baked goods, ice cream and much more. The Lienhardt family ran the bakery for 63 years. In 1927 the building was split right in half, and only the left part remained standing. The right half was replaced by a large brick building, which first contained the drug store. The two top floors contained substantial space for offices. The store once home to Lienhardt’s became Harry’s, then Pie in the Sky Pizza. The bottom floor contained a number of stores including most recently the Gap, Robertson’s Seedlings and Robertson’s Flowers.

The newly built storefront, with J.M. Fronefield as the only tenant. Circa 1884.
From “Radnor: A Pictorial History”


A horse and carriage at the corner in the 1880s.
Radnor Historical Society Collection

The interior of the Lienhardt Bakery, 1890′s. It can be assumed that the patrons actually did have faces.
Click on the image to see a larger version.
From “Historic Wayne”

A vintage advertisement for the Bakery.
Click on the image to see a larger version.
From “Radnor: A Pictorial History”

The corner circa 1890. The steps lead to the post office.
From “Historic Wayne”

The building around 1927, before the right half was demolished.
From “Historic Wayne”

The new building at the corner, 1928.
From “Historic Wayne”


The store “Buttercup” occupying the far left store in the 1970s.
Radnor Historical Society Collection

The Anthony Wayne Theatre

The Anthony Wayne was not, as some think, Wayne’s first movie theatre. The first movies to be shown in Wayne were at the Opera House just across Wayne avenue. George C. and Lawrence Allen ran the movies at the Opera House, which caught fire in 1914. The Allens lost their silver screen and a piano, yet the projection unit was salvaged. The movie film from the time was indeed very flammable, yet this was probably not the cause of the fire. The movie showings were then relocated to St. Katherine’s Hall.

A new theatre was built shortly after at 116 North Wayne Ave. by E. E. Trout. This building resembled a three-story house, and was located approximately where Reader’s Forum bookstore later established itself. It held movies and vaudeville shows for charity. Some charities included the Radnorite, the Radnor High School paper, and the Radnor Fire Company.

The need for a new theatre grew in the 1920s, and Philip DeMarse, a longtime Wayne barber, sold land on Lancaster Ave. to Harry Fried of Fried Enterprises. A new theatre, designed by noted local theatre designer William Howard Lee, was built there in either 1928 or 1929. Lee was a native of Shamokin, PA, where he designed the recently demolished Victoria Theatre. It is little known that Lee designed the Anthony Wayne, and before the discovery of the Terra Cotta advertisement seen below, the architect of the theatre was unknown. Lee also designed the Majestic Theatre in Pottstown, redesigned the interior of the Walnut Theatre (the oldest in America) and designed the Frankford Elevated Railroad.

The architect chose colorful terra cotta details made by the Conkling-Armstrong Terra Cotta Company, Philadelphia. At the time it was the only theatre on the whole Main Line to be equipped with sound. The theatre was a unique art deco design, featuring a main theatre segment in the center and two storefronts (with offices on top) on either side. Stores which operated here include Wayne Jewelers, The Anthony Wayne Sweet Shoppe, Joel’s Men’s Store, and most recently Larmon Photo and Color Me Mine.

In order to keep customers during the Great Depression, Harry Fried joined forces with the Wayne Business Association and gave away tickets at movie showings. In a display that sounds like something from a Jean Shepherd story, all the tickets were put in a big drum, and after turning it, a winner’s ticket was chosen.

The Theatre has undergone some changes. In 1965 the original marquee was replaced by a curved one. Around this time some other details from the top area of the building were removed. The theatre originally had just one screen, then was split to two, and now has around five.

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The first movies at Wayne were shown at the Opera House until the fire, seen here.
Radnor Historical Society Collection


Wayne’s first real movie theatre was this building, located on North Wayne Ave. You can see movie posters on either side of the main doorway.
GP Collection


An advertisement for a Radnor Fire Company benefit at the North Wayne Ave. theatre. Keep in mind that fifty cents was a large amount of money in 1918.
Collection of Jake Lofton


Some interesting details were still visible backstage when Main Line Life took this picture, mid-1990′s.
Click on the image for a larger version.
“Main Line Life” photo; Radnor Historical Society Collection

lancastercorner1 (1)

An unusually large banner hung outside the Theatre when this 1930s postcard was photographed. A Betty Boop cartoon was showing.
Private Collection

lincolnhighway copy

A 1950s postcard showing the “Lincoln Highway,” and the front of the theatre.
GP Collection


The theatre in 1976. Click on it to see a larger version..
Radnor School District Archives


The Theatre in 1994. At this time Larmon Photo was located in the right storefront of the Theatre. It later relocated to the other side.

Wayne Opera House

The Wayne Lyceum Hall, later renamed the Wayne Opera House, was built by J. Henry Askin from designs of David S. Glendale on the corner of Lancaster and Wayne Avenues. The commencement ceremony fo rthe Lyceum took place on March 7, 1871, and it was officially dedicated on October 24, 1871. In its first years, Wayne Avenue was on the building’s East side, in between the Lyceum and the Presbyterian Church. An issue of the Weekly Wayne Gazette published this at the building’s opening: “The object of the erection has been for the extension and development of knowledge and we dedicate it sacred to the promotion of morality, purity, and mental development. Let that which is just, virtuous, and righteous be tolerated kind obliterated.” It was originally three stories tall, with a mansard roof (which came to be Askin’s theme throughout his new commuminty). This roof had three large windows on the North and South sides and one on the West side. On the East, however, a statue of some kind inside a window-shaped enclosure is visible in photographs.

The first floor consisted of four large rooms which housed a library-reading room and stores. The second floor was reached by steep stairs and consisted of a 450 seat meeting room and stage which was home to lectures, concerts, demonstrations, and even church services. The stage was originally very small, but was enlarged in 1889 with the help of the Wayne Estate. The third floor was originally used for meetings, and as of 1890 housed the Masonic Lodge. Askin was a mason himself, and it was his plan to dedicate a whole floor of Wayne’s public hub to the organization. The building’s cornerstone, located twenty feet above ground on the building’s east side, bore the date “1871″ and a masonic emblem, all inside a keystone shape. The cornerstone remained in the same spot until March of 1951, when it was removed as the building was being remodeled. It contained many mementos from the dedication year, including deteriorated copies of the Wayne Literary Gazette, and a small box of coins. Also in the box was the manuscript of a song written especially for the dedication of the building.

Beginning in 1871, Wayne’s first newspaper, the Wayne Gazette, was published in the Lyceum. It had previously been produced at Wayne Hall. The paper ran until only the next year. The Wayne Lyceum School was one of the earliest known businesses to set up shop in the first floor. R.H. McCormick, the local assessor, began in April of 1872 his household furnishings business. A short time later, he became Louella’s first Post Master. The Post Office was located inside his store. Future Post Masters also operated here, including J.H. Brooke in 1881, Theodore F. Ramsey in 1883, Joseph M. Fronefield in 1885 and Mrs. Sallie P. Ramsey in 1890. In 1903, an addition was put onto the West end to accomodate the Post Office.

Other businesses which operated in the Opera House before the turn of the century were George E. Mancill’s grocery and provisions store (who was followed in the business by David D. Mancill), and W.H. Welsh and Co. Welsh’s hardware business, which later became George R. Park and Sons. In addition, Childs and Drexel’s office was contained in the Opera House building.

On December 30, 1914, fire was discovered at the office of the Counties Gas and Electric Co., located in the building’s west side. It was found by the foreman of the company’s power plant, Robert Tisdale, at 1:30 a.m. He then notified the Radnor Police Department’s Sergeant Rahill, and fire companies from Wayne, Devon and Bryn Mawr responded. Included in the eight streams of water that were shot at the fire at one time was the Radnor Hale Pump, the first motorized fire pump in the country. It was the fire at the Opera House that truly showed the power of this little machine; it pumped water for six hours continuously.

The fire spread to the top floor, where the walls caved in. The stage and auditorium floor were gutted, and the bottom floor suffered smoke and water damage. Welsh and Park Hardware sustained major water damage to their stock of goods, and the office of real estate dealer Charles M. Davis was also badly damaged. The tenants lost and estimated $50,000. Fortunately the records and stamps from the post office were saved by postmaster Milton J. Porter and other employees and volunteers. They had to relocate for about a week into the Wayne Title and Trust building, diagonally across the street, after which they moved back to their previous location. Other businesses had to relocate; Welsh and Park went to the Union Hall building, the Wayne Plumbing and Heating Company went to the second floor of the Wayne Estate Building and the gas and electric company went to the J.C. Pinkerton house on the corner of Lancaster and Louella Ave. There thankfully were no fatalities, although post office clerk Miss H. Ada Detterline was injured severely by a falling piece of cornice. The opera house was the first place in Wayne to see silent movies. Although movie film of the time was extremely flammable, it is not known whether this caused the fire or not. The movies, which were shown by George C. and Lawrence Allen, were shown in St. Katherine’s Hall until a house on North Wayne Avenue was converted into a new theatre. The projectionists lost the silver screen and a piano, although miraculously the movie projector was salvaged.

The building was remodeled, and was kept as an office building on Lancaster Avenue, albeit without it’s top floor. The two-story tall windows from the auditorium were split in half, and two floors for offices resulted. The building, which was renamed The Colonial Building, was again remodeled in the 1950’s, losing some more of its ornamentation on it’s South side. One thing that has not changed since the building of the Opera House in 1871 is the continuation of commerical business on the first floor. In the past they have included “My Country Store,” “Sweet Daddy’s,” “Beethoven Wraps” and the “Blackbird Bakery.” Although each new store that moves in tends to last a few years at best, they continue Wayne’s longest business legacy, one that goes back to when Wayne was a small development called Louella. The current owners of the Opera House seem to have revoked the name “Colonial Building” and the sign at the foot of the stairs now reads “Lyceum Hall.” What goes around comes around.


Wayne Hall, March 7, 1871. 
    No better day could have been chosen for the commencement exercises of Wayne Lyceum than that of Tuesday.
    Everything was auspicious; the sunshone magnificently, the sky was cloudless, and at night the stars came out in all their brilliancy, followed by the full moon in all its silvery splendor, while the pleasant, balmy air made the evening all that could have been desired.
    Long before the appointed hour crowds were seen flocking towards Wayne Hall. Everything being read, the curtain was drawn at a few minutes past seven, and a most lovely scene was presented from the platform.
    Radnor’s talented and beautiful daughters were assembled in full force, as well as Radnor’s anxious beaux and sturdy farmers and matrons. These, with the beautiful decorations of the room and the stage with its natural flowers, presented a magnificent picture.
    The President, ever alive to improve the moments as they fly, announced the music, “Away, Dull Care,” which was well executed under the efficient management of Professor John F. Kaufman, conductor, and Miss Annie Brook, organist. The brilliant eyes, as well as musical talent of this young lady, have won for her the cognomen of the “Bright-Eyed Organist.”
    A few remarks were then made by the President, alluding to the object, purpose, and progress of the Lyceum. He then introduced the orator for the evening, Mr.  ——————————- -ably delivered, gave to the friends of the Lyceum a “hearty welcome.”
    “Beautiful Snow,” a declamation by Miss M. C. Everman, was given in a most brilliant manner. Miss E. has won for herself quite a reputation for her excellent attainments. 
    The  ———- on the flute by Mr. Harry Martin, wa well appreciated by the entire audience. As a flutist Mr. M. excels.
    Knowledge, —– by Miss Sallie Martin, was written in her usual clear and comprehensive manner and displayed finely her abilities. It was also exceedingly well read.
    “The Fireman” was declaimed by Miss Seba Bittle in a style that held the audience enraptured. This was one of Miss Seba’s most successful efforts.
    “The Troublesome Investment,” a dialogue by Mr. Feniore and assistants, brought out full rounds of applause, and convulsed all with laughter.
    “The Mariner’s Grave” was then sung by the Musical Committee, whose names we have mentioned before, and who took entire charge of that department.
    “Palestine in History,” was the title of a finely-written essay by Rev. S. P. Linn. 
    “The Lost Pantaloons,” a humorous declamation by Mr. Craig McMitchell, was spoken in a comical manner. 
    The Ninetieth Psalm was then read by Miss Mary Campbell, in a manner never to be forgotten by those who had the good fortune to hear her. Miss Campbell’s sweet voice, her reverential manner, and her lovely expression, gave to her rendition of this grand majestic Psalm of David a sublime force.
    “The Beautiful Hills,” solo, by Miss Brooks, was very prettily sung, and deserves comment.
    “Paubasius Captive” was a bold stroke for Mr. James Mariott, and he did his best.
    “Hezekiah Bedott” was read by Mr. Charles Pugh most excellently.
    “Love at Home,” an essay, by Miss R. L. Clinger, was elegantly written, and the thoughts that swelled the heart of Payne when writing the well-known song of “Home, Sweet Home,” were expressed truthfully by her.
    “The Bashful Lover,” a dialogue by George Martina nd Miss Nellie Marsh, received a hearty applause; it was acted exceedingly well.
    Music, “The Flag,” preceded the presentation of awards, which were as follows:
    The First – A Lady’s Gold watch and chain. To Miss Sallie Martin. Presented in a neat speech by the President. 
    The Second – Halls and Homes of Britain. Illustrated with colored chromos. To Miss Seba Bittle, for the best Essay.
    The Third – Women Kind of Western Europe. Finely illustrated with colored chromos. To Miss Mary Campbell, for the best declamation.
    The Fourth – Tennyson’s Poems Illustrated. To Miss M. C. Everman, for the second best declamation.
    The Fifth – A copy of “The Innocents Abroad.” To Mr. Craig McMitchell, for regular attendance.
    The Sixth – Tennyson’s Poems, with Dore’s illustrations. To mr. W. H. Bittle, for prompt and early attendance.
    The Seventh – “Evenings with the Best Authors,” in three large volumes. To Mr. F. Fenimore, for meritorious services as “Crier of the Court.”
    To John F. Kaufman, Musical Conductor, a large volume of “Tennyson,” with beautiful full-page illustrations.
    And last (but not least), a beautiful rosewood writing-desk, fully equipped and ready for use, to Miss Anna Brooke, the organist.
    On behalf of the members of Wayne Lyceum, an elegant solid silver gavel was presented to the President, J. Henry Askin, by John Campbell, Esq., in a most elegant and brilliant speech. It was one of those speeches made from the promptings of the heart, and as only such speeches can be made by one of “nature’s gentlemen.”
    This present was so quietly gotten up that Mr. Askin was completely taken by surprise. He returned his thanks to the Lyceum in a few earnest words.
    Every member of the Lyceum feels deeply indebted to him for the favors so lavishly bestowed on them by him.
    All eyes were then attracted by the appearance of a wedding cake, the gift of Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Baldwin, a newly-married couple. It weighed about one hundred pounds. Mr. Theodore Ramsey cut the article, and we can assure Mr. and Mrs. B. that their acceptable present was appreciated.
    Refreshments were then handed around among the guests, and the roll was called, and sentiments given.
    A delegation from the Barean Literary Association of Philadelphia was present, and were well pleased with the evening exercised, as were all present.
    The gavel tapped to order; “Bright Eyes” took her seat at the organ, and with Professor Kaufman and the entire audience standing, singing “Auld Lang Syne.”
    The evening’s entertainment was over and the happy people betook themselves to their homes, each speaking in looks that were louder than words the sentiment so lately expressed by a member, “The Wayne Lyceum, may its shadow never grow less.”
    On Thursday evening the exercises were repeated, and the hall was crowded. Full particulars will be given in the April number of the Wayne Literary Gazette.


Photo Gallery


An engraving shows the building before the addition of 1903. This is from a Wayne real estate booklet.
Radnor Historical Society Collection


The Masonic Lodge on the third floor.
Radnor Historical Society Collection


A production in the Opera House of Gilbert & Sullivan’s “Patience.”
From “Radnor: A Pictorial History”


Radnor Historical Society Collection


Radnor Historical Society Collection


In 1916, after the renovations.
From “The Suburban and Wayne Times”