Saturday, March 14, 2015


This article was first published in the March 2005 edition of GreeneSPEAK!

Postcard view printed by W. T. Hays shortly after the building was completed in 1907.  Photo credit:

 Located at the corner of Richhill and Franklin Streets, the First United Methodist Church is an architectural gem, built in 1905-1907 when the congregation was known as Methodist Episcopal.   Church archives retain a full set of architectural drawings that document the design and materials.  The exterior walls were built of Hummelstown brownstone from the same quarry in Dauphin County, PA, that supplied the famous brownstone districts of New York City.   There have been few major changes in the intervening century, aside from replacing the roof.  

A huge cast iron bell hangs in the bell tower, manufactured in 1881 by A. Fulton & Son of Pittsburgh.   It was moved from the congregation’s earlier building on South Washington Street.

The altar of First United Methodist Church today.  The pendant lights were a later addition.

The interior is dominated by a huge “preaching auditorium” with an adjoining lecture room.  Combined, they seat over 1,000.   Around the curved edge of the lecture room are small Sunday School classrooms.   This arrangement, known as the “Akron Plan,” was popular in the late 19th and early 20th century in Methodist, Congregational, Baptist and Presbyterian churches.

The Christ in the Temple window is attributed to William Reith Stained Glass Studio of Philadelphia

The church has a wealth of beautiful stained glass windows, 45 in all.  Facing Franklin Street, the largest is a copy of the famous painting by Heinrich Hofmann of “Christ in the Temple.”   It can be attributed to the William Reith Stained Glass Studio of Philadelphia.    

  The Resurrection window shows Mary and Martha at the tomb witnessing the Risen Christ. 

The second triple window is positioned above the Cloister on the Richhill Street elevation.  It depicts the Resurrection.  Although the artist is unknown, a plaque identifies it as having been given in memory of Mrs. Harriet W. T. Sayers by her four surviving children.  The third large window is round in shape and illustrates Christ welcoming the children.   A beautiful art-glass dome tops the arched ceiling.  Behind the altar are the original pipes of a Hinner organ that was installed in 1909, partially financed by Andrew Carnegie.  

This is one of three windows--each with a different theme--in the cloister on the Richhill Street elevation.

The architect, J. C. Fulton of Uniontown, designed hundreds of schools, churches, houses and public buildings in our region.  Progressive Men of Pennsylvania, 1900, described him as “a rising architect who has gained more than a local reputation in Western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio and West Virginia….He has no real rivals in his section nearer than Pittsburgh for public and private buildings.“  It also stated that “he has the faculty of combining beauty and utility in his buildings without sacrificing either.”  

The Somerset County PA Courthouse designed by J. C. Fulton.  Photo credit:

Fulton designed five county court houses: Somerset and Butler in Pennsylvania; Monongalia, Barbour and Doddridge in West Virginia.  At California University of Pennsylvania, his work includes the east and west wings of Old Main, Dixon Hall and a library annex that has an interior dome similar to the Waynesburg church.  In Uniontown he designed Hotel Mahoney and Uniontown High School, and in Connellsville he created Hotel Wyman and the Dun & Paine Building, considered the finest in town.  

His ecclesiastical work includes Trinity Evangelical Lutheran (Connellsville), First Presbyterian (California), First Baptist (Meadville), United Presbyterian Church (Apollo), Calvary Presbyterian (Indiana), First Presbyterian (Windber), and the Methodist Episcopal and Presbyterian churches in Fairmont, WV.

Carhart Bowlby chaired the Waynesburg building committee, assisted by S. M. Smith, Dr. R. B. Blair, S. C. Brock, Capt. J. B. Donley, I. H. Knox and A. I. Strosnider.  The building cost $55,000, a sum fully subscribed by the time of dedication in September 1907.   This was an impressive accomplishment considering the recent failure of the town’s largest bank, Farmers & Drovers.   

1 comment:

  1. Great write-up, I am a big believer in commenting on blogs to inform the blog writers know that they’ve added something worthwhile to the world wide web!..