The town of Wayne, located in Radnor Township, is one of the older and livelier towns along the Main line. Wayne was one of the nation’s first suburban developments with electricity, water and drainage. Such a set of advantages has attracted residents to Wayne for the past 100 years. Wayne is a clean, beautifully landscaped town, with rich historical buildings that stand as evidence of its past development. Wayne Hall and the Opera House are local attractions, the three-storied hall being one of the tallest buildings to first be erected in the Main Line region.
The town of Wayne proper was first established when a wealthy banker named J. Henry Askin purchased a large amount of farmland, on which he planned on building a large Victorian development, named Louella after his two daughters Louisa and Ella. The area became a popular country escape for city dwellers. Eventually, the railroad made it possible for some of these wealthy businessmen to actually relocate themselves and their families to the town. Additional communities began to develop around the area, and the town’s name soon changed from Louella to Wayne, a name it inherited from the famous General Anthony Wayne. Broad streets were drawn out and a drainage system was established. Although North and South Wayne first arose as separate communities, they later agreed to form associations in order to share the responsibilities of fire protection, street lighting and other community interests.
The neighborhood of North Wayne was the town’s first development. Houses were built and designed by professional architects William L. and Frank L. Price. The development even comprised several different styles of houses, such as the Bruin Lodge, Flemish House, Pillar House and the Round End House. The neighborhood of South Wayne soon followed the first development. Built south of the train tracks, the houses in this neighborhood were much grander than its northern counterpart. Renowned architects such as William Price and Horace Trumbauer designed many of the new construction in South Wayne, making it a very desirable neighborhood to live in.
Unlike some of the other Main Line towns, Wayne did not grow haphazardly, and its development did not solely depend on population increases. Wayne was not an unplanned conglomeration of cottages, but a town that had been planned from the very start to provide residents with all the conveniences they needed. The scheme of the town was well thought out by affluent, liberal gentlemen, and as such, no expense was spared in the preliminary municipal work of the town.
Wayne was deliberately chosen as a site on which to establish a residential development. It has a healthful elevation, and conveniently embraced within its limits three train stations: St. David’s, Wayne and Eagle. Wayne not only had good drainage but also had its own natural springs of pure water, from which the town’s water supply is still drawn toady. Water works and a three-gallon water reservoir were built and an electric company was formed, furnishing the streets and cottages with light. Wayne’s streets are also broad, graveled and shaded. Therefore, Wayne has been outfitted from the very start with all the conveniences of city life: water, drainage and electricity.
For over hundred years, Wayne has been considered one of the best western suburbs of Philadelphia in which to live and raise a family. The school system is one of the finest in the country, while the income is very high and the crime rate very low. Wayne boasts of excellent public schools and parochial schools, including the nearby Devereaux School, which caters to children with educational difficulties. Most residents have higher degrees of education, and work either as executives or have professional occupations.
Wayne is also conveniently located at a short distance from many golf courses, colleges, parks, libraries, shopping areas, restaurants and entertainment. Wayne’s first movie theater was located on North Wayne Avenue, and in 1928, a new movie theater called the Anthony Wayne Theater was built on Lancaster Avenue. Furthermore, the Radnor Cricket Club, first established as the Merryvale Athletic Association, held their meetings at the Wayne Hall. With its own specialty shops, Wayne is one of the most popular shopping areas of the Main Line region. The Wayne Farmer’s Market, open three days a week, is a local favorite of the Main Line. Wayne, like many other Main Line towns, has a strong community which helps ensure its growth and development as well as conserve its heritage. The area supports many clubs and organizations such as The Radnor Historical Society, the Main Line Community Orchestra, the Wayne Art Center and the League of Women Voters.
Houses in Wayne range from the Victorian to Colonial, many of which are located in beautifully landscaped grounds or charming tree-lined streets. Midland Avenue is one of Wayne’s longest residential streets and its houses are considered to be some of the most architecturally interesting in the region.