Home : Quarterly Archives : Volume 15
Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society
Source: October 1970 Volume 15 Number 4, Pages 66–74
Berwyn, Around 1920
When I came to Berwyn in 1919, it was a nice friendly town. The people were very sociable. A typical example of life in Berwyn at that time was a frequent event involving the local fire company. In 1892 the first fire engine was purchased; it was housed in a one story building on Berwyn Ave., on the North side, two doors west of Knox Ave. This building was bought in 1929 by a couple named Roy, who had a shop of some sort there. Mr. Roy died and it was bought by James Clark who used it as a lawn mower repair shop until 1968. It was then sold to Orlie C. Cookingham, Jr., who now has a printing business there.
Until about 1917 horses were used to pull the fire truck, and what wild times there were when someone hit the iron circle with an iron bar to summon the fire fighters! Each man who had a team of horses raced to see if he could get there first. He could proudly claim the five dollars for pulling the fire truck. Usually it went to John Barsby, who lived around the corner on Knox Ave. near the Highway. Others who tried were William Guillem and Owen McClure. McClure had a livery stable, I don't know what Guillem did before 1920 but he had, a restaurant in the block between Mattson's and Carl Lichtenfeld's on the Highway in 1920.
(The numbers before each name show their location on the map at the end of this article.)
South Side of Berwyn, Going East
#1 I have first on my list William M. Coates of Philadelphia. He was a publisher who settled here in 1880.
#2 A nice couple, John and May Smith. He was a carpenter. His wife was the former May Alexander, an old Berwyn family.
#3 The Morrison sisters, refined, dainty, lovely women, well thought of by all.
#4 Atlee Potter's farm; it was a nice property, just at the intersection of Leopard Road and Lincoln Highway. A little spring house was located near Lincoln Highway and Leopard Road and the house was on Leopard Road. Potter's farm was sold about that time to the two Atkinson sisters, Margarette and Anna who were good neighbors and very highly thought of.
#5 Latshaw's School for retarded children. After his death Devereux School bought the property.
#6 James Wilson, a railroad employee, had a very nice family. he lived on the corner of Walnut Ave., across from the grammar school. The lumber used in building his home, and also, the houses in the row across the Highway, came from buildings torn down after the Centennial Exposition.
#7 The Easttown Grammar Sohool, between Walnut and Central
#8 The Easttown Primary School, Central and Bridge Aves.
#9 Harry Williams' Grocery and Meat Store. You were always sure of kindly treatment and the best quality of food. It had formerly been Ed Beadle's store. In 1903 Ed had come to Berwyn from Ithan, where he had a grocery store. The Berwyn store had had two other owners, and then Harry. At some time, it had been called the Eagle Store, for when I started to deal with him, in 1919, there was an old, faded sign hanging on the dormer showing an eagle with outstretched wings. Under it was painted "Eagle Store". Ed ran the store while Will Beadle delivered the orders.
#10 The American Store. To get in you went up six or seven steps, Austin Burns was the manager and was assisted by Miss Rebecca Derrickson, who was also the night telephone operator at the Berwyn exchange in the Walker Building. There was a funny incident that happened one night. Austin was alone in the store when it was opened until nine o'clock, and remembered that his wife wanted him to bring home some prunes. He put the prunes in a paper bag, and the money he had taken in that day in another one. He started home. When he got to the drive between Walker's and Aiken's, a man ran out of the drive and hit Austin on the head with a rock, knocking him down. The man grabbed a bag and ran. Austin wasn't hurt too badly. The thief ran off with the prunes.
#11 Dr. J. C. Bartholomew was our veterinarian. He dearly loved horses and would go almost anywhere to help a horse. He treated other animals but horses were the most important, he was very good and a pleasant man.
#12 Dr. Thomas Aiken. A fine doctor and a good friend, never too busy to listen and to help. He was a favorite with children.
#13 The town drug store, on the corner of Knox Ave. facing the Lincoln Highway. It was formerly Aiken's store, then Dr. Frank Walker bought the business. Mrs. Walker is also a pharmacist. They had six children and were a very merry group, To enter the drug store, you went up five or six steps.
The Bell Telephone Exchange was located on the third floor over the drug store. Dr. Walker was an active Lodge man. He endeared himself to the grown-ups as well as children when he would stop in early Christmas morning, dressed as Santa, to give the children each a gift, saying he had found thern in his pack and must have forgotten to leave them.
#14 Bart Hickman, our funeral director. On the Knox Ave. side of his house, he had an undertaking parlor. On the other side, his wife and daughter Rita, had a millinery and dry goods store. One day he was gazing up at his home as I passed. He remarked to me, "I was just looking at that paint job, it's not going to hold up". I asked when it had been painted, he replied, "Only done about 15 years ago, not very good paint".
#15 Joe Richards and his wife. He rented out most of the building in apartments. He rented the basement to a man named Alexander Lolli, who had a shoe repair shop. The Richards family usually raised about a dozen chickens at a time. One day a chicken truck overturned in front of their place. As the chickens scrambled out the broken crates, Mrs. Richards scattered a trail of chicken feed behind her, calling, "Here chick, chick". About two hundred chickens followed her into her chicken yard.
#16 Henry Garber's store between Richard's and James Boyle's. Mr. Johnson, Emily Peiroc's uncle, at one time had an ice cream parlor there in Richard's, and also a bakery. Garber's store was the center of many activities. The store was really two stores, with a doorway joining then and a step down toward the eastern one. He sold cigars and tobacco in the eastern one and newspapers, magazines, school supplies, penny candy, etc. in the other. He had two long ribbons on the wall with presidential campaign buttons on them from years back. He moved into the place in 1893 and was the Post Master around 1904, Hunting was a great sport until about 1945, and groups of men would go on hunting parties to the mountains, or to western Pennsylvania. They would bring back the game and proudly hang it on Garber's front porch. There would be bear and deer in season. Also grouse, pheasant, and other game. Mr. Garber had a large bulletin board, fastened to the center perch post, where one could put up a sign. Small 3x5 inch cards would do. Notices covered lost and found, puppies and kittens for sale or just give away, rooms for rent, coming concerts, etc.
#17 Mr. Suthern, who had a barber shop. A refined gentleman. He always had a pleasant word for everyone.
#18 James Boyle sold groceries and meats. He was a good business man, with keen Irish wit.
#19 Hall & Hibberd, also grocers. Mr. Hall worked for Ewing's until he and Mr. Hibberd, who had worked for Cleaver, got together and opened this store. Mr. Hibberd ran the store, and Mr. Hall went around to their customers in a horse-drawn wagon taking orders and delivering them the next day. In the summer they wore the customary long white apron and straw hats, a sort of grocer's uniform.
#20 Hoffman's Bakery — very good baked goods.
We now come to Waterloo Ave. An interesting thing happened about 1921. It was when prohibition was in force. Aunt Margaret Warner and I took a walk to Waterloo Ave. to buy some cream puffs for dessert. It was about five o'clock in the afternoon. We were near Bob Makin's store when we beheld about twenty-five or more men in a single line on Waterloo Ave. going into a place on Waterloo Ave. One at a time they disappeared through a doorway for a few moments. We turned and went home. The next day we found out that police had been called right after we left. Some enterprising soul had bought several barrels and filled them with apples. After pouring brandy over them, letting them get well soaked, they were selling them at a dollar an apple.
On the other corner of Waterloo Ave. stood a large barnlike building, used at that time as a sort of a warehouse. It had been Ewing's general store, which had closed just a few years before I came to Berwyn (1919), We always called it the Ark. I just don't know why.
#22 Bob Makin. Bob was a good man; he had a paper and magazine store and also sold candy. He was a religious man, who from babyhood until his late teens looked so much like the picture of Christ in the Temple that he wore his hair shoulder length, dark brown, and he had large soft brown eyes. He was always pleasant and popular. The children were a trial to him. They would tease him because of his long hair.
#23 Here we have the home and office of Frank Mattson, real estate man. It was formerly the home of a Mr Stauffer who was a writer. (No relation to David Stauffer).
#24 Next was Guillem's restaurant.
#25 The Atlantic and Pacific Store.
#26 Carl (Jake) Lichtenfeld was in business as far back as 1902, first in the store between Ida Landis' store and the bank; later he built a large store at the southwest corner of Main Ave. and the Lincoln Highway. He always sold a good brand of clothing, dress trimmings, and other merchandise. He was very well liked.
#27 Another grocery store run by Shank and Clark, on the southeast corner of Main and Lincoln Highway.
#28 The Berwyn Bank.
#30 The Post Office.
#31 Welch's Hardware Store, formerly Cleavers. A two storied building of stone, now after much remodeling it is owned by the Berwyn Furniture Co.
#32 The two Miss Landis' dry goods store.
#33 The Berwyn Hotel.
#34 William Gallagher's shoe and leather store, formerly owned by Martin Yerkes, who sold bridles and leather goods of all kinds. Mr Gallagher put in a line of footwear as well.
#35 Joseph Quici, a bootmaker, who made as well as repaired shoes and boots. He was born in 1883, son of a bootmaker, in a town named Castelemauro, Italy, on the Adriatic Sea. He was apprenticed to a bootmaker, and after serving his time, went into business and married. Had four children, one died. He then decided to come to America. He came over in 1913, settled first in Mt. Vernon, New York, later in Brooklyn. Work was hard to get. One day he met a man from the Philadelphia suburban area who advised him to go to the Main Line and look around. He did just that, and met a man named David Preston who assured him Berwyn was a good place with so many horsemen around. He moved into the red brick house that stands at the corner of the Lincoln Highway and Woodside Ave. He built a little white shop and was in business. A man by the name of David Hart, a member of an old family, living at Leopard Lakes, had work done and was so well pleased he recommended Quici to his friends. A few years later Quici went back to Italy to bring his three children over. His wife had passed away so he brought back a new wife, Anita, and in ten years time there were two more children. In this year of 1969 the little workshop still stands, although Mr. Quici passed away this year. His wife had died in 1965. He was a very good neighbor. The three children born in Italy were Edmona, Berwyn; Mrs.Berarde Gornacchio, Wayne; Mrs. Albino Lazazzar, Camden. The two born here are Santine (Sandy) Quici, and Mrs. Anthony Scutti, both of Berwyn.Top
North Side of Berwyn, Going East
#37 George Fox and Family.
#38 Robert Hughes, Station Master at Broad Street Station Pennsylvania Railroad.
Mr. W. Merton Warner, Paper Hanger.
#39 Charlie Epright. The house once stood a little further up the row, but in the early 1900's was moved to its present location in Nixon's Row. Charlie was the nephew of Hannah Epright, who was a school teacher in Berwyn all of her adult life. Charlie was an invalid most of his life,
#40 Ed Blair, accountant. He had a family of about nine children. He was a good neighbor.
#41 Sam Burns and family. Up to this time his mother, two sisters (Sallie and Lillian), and Sam lived on Cassatt Ave. next to the Baptist Chapel. He was a Carpenter.
#42 Joe Fitzgerald, his wife and son. He was a Plumber.
#43 Elizabeth Montgomery and her brother, a niece and nephew of Fanny Nixon, whose father built all the houses in that row (except George Foxe's and Bob Hughes'). I don't know who built the Fox house; William Bath built Hughes'.
#44 Fanny Nixon had a boarding house. Her father built the houses in the early 1900's.
There is a large lot between Nixon's and James McDonnell, Sr. home which is the first of three houses built with wood from the Centennial Fair in Fairmount Park. In this little group of houses were:
#45 James McDonnel1 Sr. residence.
#46 James McDonnell, Jr. residence.
#47 Barbour residence.
#48 McDonnell's Garage.
#49 Tiny Valentine's Bar.
#50 A large vacant house or building.
#51 Upper Bridge
#52 Was Ed Beatle's hardware store. It was located at the Bridge & Old Lancster Rd. where Albert McQuiston is now.
#53 A large old house owned by Fritz and the residence of the Cattern family. Fritz's ground extended from the upper bridge to the lower bridge, then along Cassett Ave. to Conestoga Road, and then to Howellville Road. Street-front lots had been sold, and there were houses built on Howellville Road, Conestoga Road, and Cassatt Ave.
#54 The Lamborn Building. The Lamborns were in the insurance and real estate business.
#55 Squire George Maxton, a Justice of the Peace, and Washington Smith, who was another real estate and insurance man. Also on the upper floor was Dr. Della Williams' office. The Berwyn Building and Loan was also on the second floor.
#56 David Preston's shoe repair shop. Mr. Preston was a kindly man, never too busy to bid the time of day. He was witty and could tell so many interesting things of the past that it was always a temptation to stop and chat. He was born in Ireland in 1866, as far as I could find out, and started his shoe business on the Highway in 1891.
#57 We are now at the lower bridge. Over the bridge was the Berwyn Theatre, built and run by George Zimmerman. It was built and opened about 1914. There was another "movie" in the Odd Fellows Hall. It had been there a few years and was run by the St. Andrews and St. Phillips Society, a group from one of the protestant churches. Miss Ida Davis played an old square piano, and later Helen Burns played there. The Berwyn Movies changed hands many times, and went thru a session of giving dishes etc. During the middle 1940s it was used during the summer for operettas. We had many good actors and actresses play there. It closed as a theatre in the early 1950s.
#58 Anton Schmidt, a barber, had his shop right opposite the Berwyn Theatre on Cassatt Avenue.
#59 The Pennsylvania Railroad Station.
#60 William H. Fritz "Lumber and Coal Company", the oldest business in Berwyn. It started in 1863, and is still in the hands of the Fritz Family.
#61 Alice Quimby's home.
#62 Three small residences under one roof: Bowman residence,
#63 Duncan residence,
#64 Toroni residence.
#65 The Ice Plant, built on property belonging to the Springhouse Tavern, a famous Inn since Colonial Days. Part is still standing.
#66 The American Non-Gran Bronze Works. The only plant of its kind in the United States, or possibly the world at that time. They had a patented process for making bronze. They made gears and bearings for the airplanes used in World War Two.
#67 In back of the "Bronze" was C. H. Warner's dairy. They were situated on Kromer Ave.
#68 Hester Price had a canning & preserve Factory. She was situated on Kromer Avenue, in back of the "Bronze".
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