Thursday, April 13, 2017


This column first appeared in the April 2017 issue of GreeneSPEAK!

Vintage postcard printed by W. T. Hays. Miller Hall on left, Hanna Hall on right. (

Miller Hall, the administration building of Waynesburg University, is the most important Victorian building in Waynesburg. It was designed in 1872 by Pittsburgh architect James W. Drum. The style is “Second Empire,” inspired by the elegance of Paris during the “Second Empire” reign of Napoleon III. Miller Hall has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1977. It is significant historically and architecturally.

Alfred Brashear Miller (
It is named for college president Alfred Brashear Miller who devoted a large part of his life to its completion. He worked ceaselessly at fund-raising, and often taught and administered without pay, supporting his family as a Cumberland Presbyterian minister. With the help of students, he made many of the 1,400,000 bricks in the building from clay dug on site.

Facing Miller Hall across the Commons, this is the home that A. B. and Margaret Bell Miller built in the Italianate style about 1857 at the corner of Morris and Wayne Streets.  In the early 20th century, it was expanded and remodeled by the Sayers family and came to be known as "Sayers Manor." Later demolished by Waynesburg University. ("Waynesburg Prosperous and Beautiful," Fred High, 1907)

When Waynesburg College began in 1850, it had only one building, now known as Hanna Hall. As the school grew, it soon became inadequate. From the beginning of his presidency in 1859, Miller understood the need for a second, larger building. Foreseeing growing demand for higher education and increasing competition from other institutions, he wrote: “To arise and build is the only way to escape being swallowed up by this competition.” 

Printed in the "The Women's Centennial Paper," August 1896, this could be the original drawing by Architect J. W. Drum.

Rear view. The center three windows on third floor are Alumni Hall. (Council of Independent Colleges: Historic Campus Architecture Project)

He visited campuses at Bethany, Swarthmore, Princeton and Rutgers, deciding on types and sizes of rooms and architectural detail. Based on his specifications, James W. Drum created floor plans and exterior elevations that were unanimously accepted by the Trustees, although other, better known architects had also submitted drafts. Drum was newly arrived in Pittsburgh from Indiana, PA, where he had designed Sutton Hall, the first building on the Indiana University of Pennsylvania campus. 

John Sutton Hall, Indiana Normal School, now I. U. P., 1875. (
Finally, in 1874, the Waynesburg Trustees approved construction, but only on a “pay-as-you-go” basis. Fund-raising continued slowly, and so did construction. Cornerstones were laid in 1879, the roof completed by 1882, two interior staircases finished in 1888, and so it progressed. Finally, in 1899, all debts were paid and Miller Hall was dedicated. By then, Second Empire was out-of-fashion, but this fact does not diminish its significance. 

One of two matching newel posts in Miller Hall, constructed by the Ullom Brothers, Waynesburg's master staircase builders. (Photo by Mary Beth Pastorius)

From about 1850-1900, Second Empire was the most popular style for institutional buildings in the United States. Other fine collegiate examples are located at Washington & Jefferson, California (PA), Duquesne and West Virginia Universities.

In addition to Indiana’s Sutton Hall, Drum designed the Old Courthouse there, and the Jefferson County Courthouse, located not far from his hometown of Punxsutawney. After Miller Hall, he had a prolific career in Pittsburgh, including the County Home in Uniontown and Central School in Monongahela, both demolished in the 1960-70s. 
The Old Indiana County Courthouse, 1869, designed by J. W. Drum with a gold leaf cupola clock tower. Today, First Commonwealth Bank. (Downtown Indiana Historic District.)

Typical of the Second Empire, Miller Hall has great height, topped by a mansard roof with ornately decorated dormers. There is a massive entrance tower and segmented, arched windows of colored glass. Local sandstone quarried south of town forms the foundation, decorative columns and window caps. Both outer and interior supporting walls are brick, two feet thick. There is an abundance of finely crafted wood trim inside and out. Several interior rooms were decorated by local organizations in the ornate fashions of the period. 

Library on second floor of Miller Hall, 1905. (TPS at Waynesburg University, photo album)

Alumni Hall was in the middle of the third floor, 1905 view. (TPS at Waynesburg University, photo album)

Philomanthean ("Philo") Hall at Waynesburg University was located on the west side of the third floor, shown here in 1905. Another literary society, Union, was on the east side. (TPS at Waynesburg University, photo album)


Fayette County Home at Uniontown, designed by J. W. Drum in 1883. Demolished 1977. (Vintage postcard.)
Central School, Monongahela, PA, designed by Drum and Steen, 1880-81, possibly the architects' presentation drawing. Demolished ca. 1961-2. (Photo courtesy of Terry Necciai.)
Stephen C. Foster School in Lawrenceville, City of Pittsburgh, was the last work of Architect J. W. Drum, completed after his death in 1884. Until 1939, it was used by the city schools, later leased to the Catholic Boys Center. (Senator John Heinz History Center) 

Monday, March 6, 2017


This column first appeared in the March 2017 issue of GreeneSPEAK!

The Sayers Addition plan was not filed with the Recorder of Deeds office until June 1941.

The Town of Waynesburg did not expand beyond its original grid of streets and alleys until after the Civil War. The southern border, located just below Greene Street, was aptly named South Alley. From there, the Slater farm extended all the way to Ten Mile Creek.

In April 1872, Waynesburg’s first “development” began when Thomas W. Sayers laid out 128 lots on the former Slater farm. Called the “Sayers Addition,” it is known today as the “South Side.” The plan included new streets named Lincoln, Elm, First and Water, bordered by Morgan Street on the east and Spring Alley on the west.

East and south elevations of the W. G. Scott House. The 3-bay front features double entrance doors on the left. Later, a second door was added in the right bay.

The same month, Sayers sold three lots on South Washington Street to Walter Guy Scott, the distinguished Professor of Mathematics at Waynesburg College. He purchased the entire block between Walnut Alley and Elm Street for $700.00, the equivalent of $13,725.00 today. It extended west 180 feet to Fruit Alley. Soon, the professor and his wife were erecting one of the first, and finest, houses in the neighborhood.  

Walter G. Scott graduated from Waynesburg College in 1857. (

Today, it is difficult to appreciate the palatial nature of the Scott House when the family lived there, surrounded by large, open lawns, as shown in early photos. Later, the property was subdivided, adding four houses, each placed closer to the street, blocking a full view of the Scott House. Although its front is narrow, the sides are long, creating a large mass.  

Another view of the Scott House from South Washington Street looking southwest.  A 3-story bay graces the north elevation..
Both Professor Scott and his wife, the former Mary Sutton, were early graduates of Waynesburg College. Born in Durham, England, she was the daughter of Rev. Robert H. Sutton, an early Protestant Methodist minister who came to America in the 1840s with his family. He served a number of churches in Southwestern Pennsylvania and Illinois before retiring to Waynesburg.   

With arched paneling and oriel windows, the double doors are framed with elaborate wood trim, produced by a power jigsaw, an innovation of the 1860-70s. 

Urbane and well educated, the Scotts chose for their home the new Second Empire style, considered to be the “high style” of Victorian architecture, inspired by Parisian designs of the era. Tall and stately, Second Empire buildings are distinguished by a mansard roof with two slopes on all four sides, the lower slope being steeper than the upper. With a mansard roof, the house gained a full floor of living space with tall ceilings instead of a low attic.  

The windows on the front porch were equally well adorned.

While many institutional buildings were designed in the Second Empire style, residences were not so common, and few remain today. However, several others can be found in Waynesburg including two that are highly unusual, only 2-stories tall.

This handsome 2-story Second Empire house is located within sight of the Scott House.  It was owned by Simon Rinehart, 1876.  The enclosed porch is a later addition.

Another Second Empire house of unusual 2-story height is located on West Greene Street.

Designed one year after the Scott House, Waynesburg College’s Miller Hall is also Second Empire in style, the work of Pittsburgh architect James W. Drum. It is not known if Drum (or another architect) designed the Scott House, or if they chose a design from a pattern book, but it is likely that the professor was involved in decisions about Miller Hall.   

This rendering of Miller Hall by an unknown artist appeared in the Women's Centennial Paper, 1896.  Could it be the work of architect James W. Drum who designed the building in 1873? 
In “The Waynesburg College Story,” author William Dusenberry describes Walter G. Scott as one of the “Great Triumvirate” who kept the college going during tough times in the late 19th century, often teaching without a salary. The others were President A. B. Miller and Professor James R. Rinehart, all of whom had other means of financial support. While Miller was a Presbyterian minister, Scott was a downtown merchant, owning a dry goods store with his father, located where The Fashion Shop is today.


Monday, February 6, 2017


This column first appeared in the February 2017 issue of GreeneSPEAK!

“The Underground Railroad,” Charles T. Wheeler, 1891.

The decade before the Civil War was a turbulent time in Greene County. Like other communities on the Mason-Dixon Line, local residents had strong and divergent opinions. While a few sympathized with the slave-holding South, most believed in preserving the Union, but were ambivalent about slavery.

A few were Abolitionists strongly opposed to slavery. These brave souls, both white and free black, helped slaves escape via the Underground Railroad. While not actually a “railroad,” it had “conductors” and “station masters” managing safe hiding places, meals and transportation in total secrecy. Because penalties were severe if caught, operatives knew little about other participants and did not speak about their roles. In fact, many remained silent for the rest of their lives.  

"Geography of the Underground Railroad" shows a route through Greene County.
Today it’s widely accepted that many slaves escaped through Greene County, entering through one of its two shared borders with Virginia. Our county would have been a dangerous place for slaves and those helping them after passage of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850 because slave owners had the right to come into the North to reclaim their “property.” 

1838 poster for a runaway slave. Bardstown, KY

A well-documented episode happened in Waynesburg in July 1856 when nine male slaves escaped from the plantation of Cyrus Ross near Clarksburg. After crossing the border near Mt. Morris, they were attacked by the owner and his armed posse, but escaped to the home of Elisha Purr, a free black man who lived nearby. Purr brought them to the Waynesburg station master, an African American barber named Ermine Cain whose shop was across from the Courthouse. Cain hid them in a lumber yard two blocks away and hurried back to his shop.

View from "Caldwell's Atlas of Greene County," 1876, shows the barber shop located in the basement corner of the building  earlier known as Hamilton House. Before and during the Civil War, it was the shop of Ermine Cain, Underground Railroad station master. 

Soon, the slave owner and his posse arrived, accusing Cain of stealing his property. Cain denied and bravely dragged out the conversation, buying time for the slaves to be moved. Finally, exasperated, Ross offered an enormous bribe of $300 per person, to which Cain replied, “No, sir; if I knowed where your slaves are, all the money in the South wouldn’t get me to tell.”

Sam Jewell ran a wheelwright shop with a "dry yard" full of lumber at the SE corner of High and Richhill Streets. It was replaced in 1882 by this building, known as “Carter’s Corner.” “Waynesburg Prosperous and Beautiful,” Fred High, 1906.

In fact, the slaves had escaped Waynesburg, and were taken to John Adams, a free mulatto on Hargus Creek near Rogersville. After hiding in the woods for a week, they were moved to the Redmonds, a family of free blacks in the area. Next, they hid in the cellar of a Disciples of Christ minister, the Rev. William Leonard of Leonardsville near Holbrook.

From there, they continued north through Graysville and Burnsville to the Abolitionist stronghold of West Middletown, a community led by Matthew and Jane Campbell McKeever. The McKeevers had a connection to Rev. Leonard because Jane’s father and brother had founded the Disciples faith. Her brother also established Bethany College.

Thomas and Jane McKeever House, Main Street, West Middletown. Photo courtesy of Washington County History and Landmarks Foundation.

In Waynesburg, the Suttles house on Greene Street is another site often identified with the Underground Railroad. It is long gone, replaced by the Post Office. 

Other Greene County accounts mention Caleb Davison and the Rev. Tygart family in Blacksville, Bob Maple’s mill near Mapletown, the Eisiminger and Orndoff farms in Whiteley Township, the James Adamson and Judge Ross farms near Ruff Creek, the Joseph Gray farm near Graysville, a Davis family southeast of Waynesburg, Jimmy Hansbury outside of Carmichaels, Isaac Teagarden near Ryerson Station, and Sam Fleming who harbored fugitives on the George Wisecarver farm without the owner’s knowledge. 

Adamson farm, Franklin Township. "Caldwell's Atlas of Greene County," 1876.
In summary, there's a lot more to be learned about the Underground Railroad in Greene County.

In 1859, the “Trial of the Negroes” tore the Waynesburg community apart.  Read about it online in newspaper articles transcribed by Bill Davison, and discover other research findings by Marlene Bransom and Jan Stevens Slater.

Monday, December 5, 2016


This column first appeared in the December 2016 issue of GreeneSPEAK!

One hundred years ago in Waynesburg, the retail clothing business was dominated by Jewish merchants who were also civic and social leaders. With their wives and children, they added a diversity to small town life that is largely missing today.  

Escaping economic and religious persecution, their families came to America from Eastern Europe in the late 19th century. While many Jewish immigrants settled in large East Coast cities, others moved to small towns like Waynesburg.   

Grossman Brothers Department Store, West High Street, built in 1903, destroyed by fire in 1925. ("Waynesburg Prosperous and Beautiful," Fred High.)

Brothers Isaac and Lee Grossman arrived first, building an elegant 4-story department store that was destroyed in the Downey House fire of 1925. They paved the way for the next generation which included nephew Reuben H. Goldberg and former employee Dan Cohen. 

While the Grossmans lost their business to fire, a tragedy of a different sort befell Barney Grossman who owned a large clothing store in the Messenger Building. He was heavily indebted to Farmers and Drovers Bank, and when the bank failed in late 1906, he was forced to close his store.  

Ca. 1929 photo shows the second and final location of Harrison & Cohen in the Messenger Building at the NE corner of High and Washington.  The event is the dedication of a bronze plaque marking the site of the first classes of Waynesburg College. ("History of Greene County Pennsylvania," G. Wayne Smith, 1996)

However, Barney Grossman had started a tradition that continues today, the sale of men’s clothing from the corner of High and Washington Streets. He was followed by Harrison & Cohen, Army Navy, Roth’s, and since 1979, Mickey’s Men’s Store.

Two views of the first location of the Harrison & Cohen store at the NW corner of High and Washington Streets, today the site of First National Bank. This building was demolished in 1922. By then, Harrison & Cohen had moved across the street to the Messenger Building. (

“The Pittsburgh Press” wrote in 1933: “The store of Harrison & Cohen, where for half a century the gentry of Waynesburg was outfitted, is no more. From the late ‘nineties on, judges, doctors and lawyers mingled with rollicking college freshmen at its racks and counters. Whether it was a dress suit or a football uniform, Harrison & Cohen supplied it. One of the last articles sold before the store closed its door this week, after the death of Daniel Cohen, the last surviving partner, was a 1912 football helmet. It was purchased for the Waynesburg College Museum.”

Interior of Harrison & Cohen Men's Clothing Store, ca. 1905 ("Waynesburg Prosperous and Beautiful," Fred High)

Senior partner Max Harrison had been born in England and immigrated to Philadelphia at a young age. Dan Cohen was a native of New York. Soon after forming their partnership, they became brothers-in-law when Dan married Max’s sister in 1905. They purchased the Messenger Building in 1922, modernizing the façade with Art Deco-style glass transoms and marble wainscoting that remain today.

Ca. 1929 view of the R. H. Goldberg Building (on the left), built in 1925. It is faced with large white terra cotta tiles made in Corning, N.Y.  (

Reuben H. Goldberg joined his Grossman uncles in Waynesburg in 1892, and soon opened his own shoe store. A decade later, he sold it to travel around the world. Returning, he started a women’s clothing store. In 1925, he created a distinctive building on West High Street with a façade of white terra cotta tiles made in Corning, N.Y. His “Ladies and Misses Outfitting Store” was located on the first floor with offices above. 

Like Barney Grossman, R. H. Goldberg was heavily indebted to Farmers & Drovers Bank when it failed in December 1906.  When the loan was called, he was forced to sell the inventory to Harrison & Cohen.  He survived to soon open another store.

Interior of the R. H. Goldberg store in "Waynesburg Prosperous and Beautiful," ca. 1905 photo.  The location of this store is unknown.

Without a local synagogue, Jewish cemetery or school, the merchant families had to travel to larger towns to practice their faith. Few stayed more than one or two generations before their children moved to cities with large Jewish populations. Although their contributions are little remembered in Waynesburg today, they are held dear by their descendants.  

Home of the Daniel Cohen family on South Morris Street across from the Post Office and South Ward School, later converted to a two-family dwelling.

Recently, a great-grandson of Dan Cohen wrote of growing up with his grandmother’s stories of a happy childhood on South Morris Street across from South Ward School which she had attended. She spoke admiringly of her father as a “larger-than-life figure, an outgoing fellow who was known and liked by folks across Waynesburg’s social spectrum.”

By 1930, Dan and Annie Cohen had moved to North West Street.   This view is from "Waynesburg Prosperous & Beautiful," ca. 1905, when the house was owned by A. B. Reese.

A view of the house today.  Sometime after the Cohen's tenure, it was converted to a double house.