The Louella Mansion and Estate

The original Louella Estate was located on Lancaster Avenue in the heart of what is today Wayne. The estate consisted of eight buildings in 1870: the main house was accompanied by another dwelling, a sheep house, a barn, a granary and coach house, a spring and tenant house and two milk sheds. They were built for banker and Chester native J. Henry Askin, who bought 91 acres in 1864 from Jacob and Louisa Lukens. The land had previously belonged to the family of Thomas Maule. The next year Askin bought 73 more acres, and in 1870 129 more acres from the heirs of the Abraham family. The center of Askin’s property was his estate “Louella,” named after Louisa and Ella, two of his three daughters. At the center of the estate stood the mansard-roofed mansion “Louella.”

Askin began to develop some of his land, beginning on Bloomingdale Avenue. He added several public buildings, including a Presbeterian Church and public hall in 1870, and a year later Lyceum Hall next to the Church. Askin’s brother George supervised agricultural operations in the community, which had now adopted the name “Louella,” and he sent milk to Philadelphia via the railroad. By 1870 the railroad stop had adopted the name “Wayne,” after General Anthony Wayne, giving up the previous title of “Cleaver’s Landing.”

Askin built the Louella mansion in 1865, and while construction progressed he stayed in the old Maule house until the mansion was completed. The Wayne Hall was built on the corner of Edgewood and Lancaster Avenue. It had multiple purposes, including holding meetings and lectures, a library, polling place, and offices, and the first services for the Wayne Presbeterian Church. Services were relocated when the new church building was completed in 1870. Wayne Hall was moved at one time, but no longer stands.

The development on Bloomingdale Avenue was first occupied in 1872. Each house had a mansard roof, which was an architectural theme throughout Louella. The street also housed a reservoir, which had wicker furniture around the top for residents to use.

Askin went under financial trouble with the depression of 1873. His eyesight failed soon later, and he was forced to sell his whole property. Anthony J. Drexel and George W. Childs bought Askin’s land and some adjoining property in 1880 and called the whole the Wayne Estate. In 1890 they converted the Louella Mansion into a hotel for city dwellers visiting Wayne. They added two large wings to the east and west ends of the building which copied the architectural style of the original building.

Louella joined the Bellevue as Wayne’s premier hotels. Askin moved from his old home to Florida, where he spent some years. During the winter months when few visited the area, Louella was used as Miss Armitage’s School, a private school for girls. In a few decades the building was converted into an apartment house, which it remains as today.