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Modern Club Diner history at corner of Main and Elm Streets

Buzzings from BeeLines

December 14, 2011
By Marybelle Beigh, Current Westfield Historian
Updated histories of various diners in Westfield, 1900-2011 series, continued

The diners located at Main and Elm Streets in Westfield, N.Y., not only changed names and owners. There were also at least two different dining cars placed at that location. The first of these was brought into Westfield in January 1929 by Walter Moore and Harold Washburn, and was called the Modern Club Diner. It was placed on the lot owned by Manuel Triantefellow, which Harold Washburn and Walter Moore had leased Dec. 14, 1928.

The Modern Club Diner was “mammoth” according to the Jan. 2, 1929, Westfield Republican, in the lead article headlined “EAT! EAT!! EAT!!!” Diner Historian Mike Engle explains that the Modern Club was one model of Ward and Dickinson diners. Ward and Dickinson was a major diner manufacturer located in Silver Creek in the 1920s and 1930s. Their first diners were about 30 feet long and called “Ward Dining Cars.” Then they built 40-foot models called DeLuxe diners; then they went to a “Modern Club.”

There are two dated photographs of the Modern Club Diner from 1929. The first one — apparently taken in late winter since there are no leaves on the trees, snow on the ground and soon after the diner opened, as there are no plantings along the diner yet — shows nearly the full length of the diner. There are two couples, warmly dressed, entering the door closer to Main Street along the side facing Elm Street. In the Main Street end there is another door flanked by two windows. And barely visible in the photo, at the far right hand side, can be seen another door with the arm of someone reaching to enter there. These door details, the number of windows and monitor windows, and the apparent length of the diner of at least 40 feet, make it almost certainly a Ward and Dickinson Club Diner model.

The second 1929 photo of the Modern Club Diner was given to the Patterson Library by Kathryn Lichtenwalter and shows her brother, James, and his friends, John Ross and Jimmy Sullivan, sitting on the curb with Vern Wantshouse standing behind him. A note with — not on — the photo says that Wantshouse was owner of the diner. This photo was taken in warmer weather, probably summer 1929 based on the clothing, the leaves on trees and the landscaped plants along the walk near the diner’s Elm Street side.

Engle has provided some additional information about this diner that states that it was a WandD No. 205 — 1929-01-00, meaning this diner is No. 205 on his data base list for Ward and Dickinson diners, and it was shipped in January 1929. One piece of Ephemera was found — a program for a Minstrel Show from February 1931 in which two diners are included on the advertising cover page, Modern Diner, or Modern Club Diner, and Westfield Diner, or Stafford’s Diner.

The only other newspaper article found was a brief paragraph on the personals page 5 of the Westfield Republican, Aug. 8, 1934, which reads, “William Bourne accompanied Bill Moore Friday to Bethlehem, Pa., where they will set up the lunch car which formerly stood at the corner of Main and Elm Street.” Bill Moore is Walter J. Moore who, with Harold Washburn, had brought the Modern Club Diner to Westfield in 1929.

On a trip this past winter, Engle stopped in Bethlehem, P., to try to find out whatever happened to the WandD Club Diner. He reported that, “The Ward made it to Bethlehem in 1934 and did business up until around 1953 when it was replaced by another diner.” Later, a friend of Engle’s helped to move the replacement diner — not the Ward — to Coudersport, Pa., where it does business as Fezz’s Diner. Probably the old WandD rotted into the ground, or was torn down, after it was replaced.

Article Photos

Submitted photo
The Modern Club Diner, formerly located on the corner of Main and Elm Streets in Westfield first opened in January 1929. The names of the couples are not documented or identified at present.

Fact Box

Marybelle Beigh is the current Public Historian for the Town and Village of Westfield. Her office is located at 3 East Main Street in Westfield, N.Y, 14787 — inside Parkview Ice Cream Parlor. Her scheduled office hours are Monday through Friday 9 to 11 a.m.; other hours by appointment.
Beigh can be reached at westfieldhistorian@ or by calling 326-2457 (office), 326-6171 (home) or 397-9254 (cell).



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