Wayne in 1870
1870 was the beginning of Wayne’s first real development. Askin had built his mansion on Lancaster Avenue a few years before, and construction had begun on the Opera House, the Presbeterian Church and on a small community. Askin had huge plans for Wayne in 1870 which included a planned community, with entertainment and religious services. Two halls int he town included the Opera House and Wayne Hall, both on Lancaster Avenue. The site of Wayne Hall later became the American Legion Post. later became the site of the American Legion Post. Askin’s plans for Wayne would soon be numbered. He was going blind and the financial depression of 1873 halted his plans for further development. In 1880 he sold his prized land to which he had given so much to Anthony J. Drexel and George W. Childs, the banker and publisher who planned to build an enourmous community out of Askin’s holdings. Askin stayed in Wayne for a few years, living in a brick cottage across from the Wayne Opera House. He eventually moved to Florida where he spent the rest of his life.
The Louella Mansion
The Wayne Train Station
The Wayne Opera House
Wayne in 1880
Drexel and Childs began their dream in 1880 with the building of the Bellevue Hotel, which may have originally been a mansion. The hotel gave potential residents from the city a chance to see what living “out in the country” was like, hoping to entice them into buying a summer home in Wayne. A commercial district was established in Wayne, beginning in the bottom floor of the opera house and continuing along the pike. In 1885 construction began on North Wayne Avenue of the new development of North Wayne. Small cottages were originally built, and then construction spread throughout the neighborhood.
As the development of North Wayne continued, South Wayne began to develop. Businesses streamed in with the new residents, and prosperity was more evident. As residents grew in number, so did Wayne’s status. The Louella mansion joined the Bellevue as Wayne’s hotels, and city dwellers were discovering the beauty of Wayne.
As Wayne grew in status and population, it lost one of it’s greatest attractions. The Bellevue Hotel burned down in March of 1900. Despite this loss, new estates and businesses gave Wayne a new identity.
Wayne in 1910
Another loss came in 1913 with the fire that gutted the Wayne Opera House. Although the top floor had to be given up, the rest were kept and surprisingly still remain as offices and stores today. The coming of automobiles also changed the face of the town and it’s residents.
Wayne in 1920
The twenties started with a bang in Radnor with a huge train wreck in Radnor.