Friday, May 20, 2011

From Powelton Pioneer to First Developer of Wayne

     After the turn of the last century, some of the more successful Poweltonians moved out to Main Line suburbs.  James Henry Askin was a pioneer – he was one of the first to settle in Powelton and probably the first to move the Main Line.
      Askin and his extended family moved to 3509 Baring St. about 1858 from the 3600 block of Haverford Ave. in neighboring Mantua.  He was a real estate agent with an office at 112 S. 4th St.   In 1860, he valued his real estate holdings at $16,000 and his personal property at $2,500.  By 1870, his wealth had increased tenfold with $75,000 in real estate and $125,000 in personal property.
John H. Askin's holdings in Radnor Township, 1870
     In the years following the Civil War, Askin purchased 293 acres of farm land in Radnor Township where the town of Wayne now stands. The Lancaster Turnpike formed the western border and the property extended from Spring Mill Rd. in the south up past Wayne Ave.  The Pennsylvania Railroad cut through the middle.   He planned to build a new community named “Louella” after his daughters, Louisa and Ella.  In about 1865, he built a large mansion with that name placing it next to the Wayne railroad station.  (It is now the Louella Apartments.)  The Askins sold their Powelton home in April, 1867.  He also built the Wayne Presbyterian Church, Lyceum Hall (now the Colonial Building at the northeast corner of E. Lancaster and N. Wayne) and a row of mansard-roofed villas on Bloomingdale Avenue.

The Louella Apartments, Wayne, Pa.
     Askin got caught in the economic panic of 1873 and had to sell his holdings in Radnor to A. J. Drexel and George W. Childs who turned the area in a model suburban community.

1 comment:

  1. One of Askins's mansard-roofed villas on Bloomingdale (still standing) was sold to George Corrie, a Powelton neighbor. For a brief period both the Hughs (Hide & Tallow Dealers - another Powelton family) & Corrie extended families lived together in this house before the Hughs's own house, also bought from Askin and near Wayne Station, was refurbished. I suspect McIlvain timber was used by Askin but have found no direct evidence yet!