Saturday, February 14, 2015


This column was first published in the February 2015 issue of GreeneSPEAK!

The Bowlby House (right) as photographed soon after completion.   On the left is the Timothy Wisecarver House, since demolished.   Postcard published by W. T. Hays.  Source: Walter "Blackie" Markiewich Collection owned by Brice & Linda Rush, shared with 

The Bowlby House (now Library) tells the story of Waynesburg’s “Prosperous and Beautiful” era.  A book of the same title, published in 1907, featured a photo similar to the one above, taken a few years after the house was completed.  The house looks much the same today, aside from a modern addition in the rear.  Commanding a terrace above North West Street, it continues to be treasured and enjoyed by all because of the generosity of its owner, Eva K. Bowlby, who bequeathed it in memory of her husband and grandson.

Visiting recently on a dark January afternoon, I entered through two elegant pairs of doors and a tiled vestibule into a large, bright space.  Packed with after-school activities, the house was as warm and alive as I’d remembered.   Growing up in Waynesburg, it was always my favorite-- the building that spurred a lifelong love of historic architecture.     

The “living hall” and grand staircase of Bowlby Library today.

The plan is typical of the early 20th century when the large, open “living hall” was in fashion.  Richly trimmed in quarter-sawn oak, it was the perfect space for receiving guests.  The room has a tiled fireplace, pairs of Ionic columns and a staircase with a large stained glass window.  There are decidedly modern Arts & Crafts details in much of the woodwork.   A parlor and dining room are tucked into opposite corners.  They extend the living hall, but have pocket doors for privacy, as needed.   One imagines the house in the early 20th century, full of rosy-cheeked children returning from winter games in the park or elegant ladies at tea, dressed in Edwardian finery.   

The rough-cut sandstone exterior is the work of Waynesburg’s master stonemason, A. I. Rinehart.  The stone came from a quarry south of town on the Smith Creek Road.  Handsome keystone lintels top the windows and smooth faced quoins trim the corners.   Below the roofline, the wide cornice is trimmed with brackets and dentils.  On the second floor, what appears to be an art glass Palladian window is actually a door leading to a small porch.  Balustrades surround it and the wrap-around porch below that is supported by Doric columns.   Three handsome dormers highlight the design of the third floor front elevation.   The central dormer is rounded while the others are gabled.  This is a typical design element of the Colonial Revival style, as is the bow window on the south elevation and the overall boxy shape of the structure.  

Carhart, Dorothy and Eva K. Bowlby.  Source:

Carhart Bowlby was a successful cattle dealer and business man who traveled frequently to Chicago where he would have been introduced to the work of America’s leading architects, Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright.  In addition to his home, Bowlby created at least three more monumental buildings in Waynesburg.  From 1905-08, he chaired the building committee for the Methodist Episcopal Church (today First Methodist), designed by architect J. C. Fulton of Uniontown.  Nearly two decades later, as president of Citizens National Bank, he supervised construction of what is now First National Bank whose architects, Dennison & Hirons, were leaders of the Beaux Arts movement in New York City.  A year later, immediately after the Downey House fire, he organized the Fort Jackson Hotel Company to rebuild the town’s central hotel corner, hiring prominent Pittsburgh architects, Paul Bartholomew and Brandon Smith.  

Today, Waynesburg’s citizens continue to enjoy these beautiful buildings, and feel grateful for the gift of the library.


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