Friday, October 30, 2015


This column first appeared in the November 2015 issue of GreeneSPEAK!

Farmers & Drovers Bank, ca. 1903, is today the Waynesburg Borough Building. (

“If walls could talk,” the Waynesburg Borough Building would have many tales to tell from its present use as a police station, municipal office and council chambers to past occupants.  

The structure has had two distinctly different appearances. Built in 1857-58, it was elaborately ornamented in a manner appropriate for Greene County’s first bank, the legendary Farmers & Drovers. The builder was bank president Jesse Hook who owned many properties and businesses, and was believed to be the area’s largest employer. Jesse’s family had been in Greene County since its founding when his grandfather, Capt. James Hook, was the first sheriff.  

Jesse Hook. (

He chose a new style of architecture for the exterior. Called “Italianate,” it was inspired by the relaxed country villas of Northern Italy. In the mid-19th century, architecture--like literature, music and art-- was influenced by the “Romantic Movement” which alluded to a more pastoral past. It held great appeal in the early days of the Industrial Revolution.    

Street paving, ca. 1903 (

Widely available pattern books from Andrew Jackson Downing and other architects encouraged replication of this new picturesque style that contrasted with the formal symmetry and classical ornamentation of the earlier Greek Revival. In Waynesburg, there are many fine examples of Greek Revival architecture, notably the Court House and Hanna Hall, completed just six years before Farmers & Drovers. Sadly, no examples of the Italian Villa style remain.

Architecturally significant pediments throughout the building are identical to the earliest section of the Denny House, ca. 1836, located nearby. This is the second floor hallway.  

Actually, the Farmers & Drovers building is considered a transitional design because the interior features Greek Revival-inspired classical pediments and Ionic columns. This handsome woodwork remains today as do the bank vaults made by York (PA) Safe & Lock Company. 

Bank vault on second floor.

Identification plate on second floor vault. York Safe and Lock Company of York, PA was established in 1882. This unit was probably installed when the building was remodeled in 1890.

The exterior was altered in 1890 when a large window was added to the bank quarters. From the beginning, various retail establishments were located in the opposite (western) half of the structure, entered through the central hallway. In the early days, the bank cashier and his family lived on the second floor. Later, these spaces became club rooms and borough offices.

Streets were paved in 1903.   This view shows the start of construction. The building with cupola in the background was the Downey House Hotel, destroyed by fire in December 1925. (

Consistent with the Italian Villa style, the original roof was low-pitched with wide overhanging eaves supported by decorative brackets. The 5-bay façade had a central balcony with fancy iron railing above a double-door entrance. The windows were tall and narrow with stone crowns. In the rear was a two-story porch, a common feature in early Waynesburg.  

Waynesburg Borough Building, October 2015

In 1906, the bank closed in a much-publicized financial scandal that bankrupted many citizens and businesses and depressed the local economy for decades. The building was purchased in 1929 by Waynesburg Borough which placed the police station in the former bank headquarters where it remains today. Two years later, a fire destroyed the rear porches.  At that time, the borough removed the ornate cornice and brackets and installed a parapet wall, creating the current appearance.  

An early owner was Issac Beeson (1795-1866) of Uniontown.  (

In the 200+ years since Waynesburg was founded, this lot has hosted many commercial endeavors. From 1829 to 1855, it was owned by Isaac Beeson, “the merchant prince of Uniontown,” whose local partner was his brother-in-law, Henry Lyle Pennock. Although we don’t know what the early Beeson & Pennock Store looked like, it’s possible that the present structure was erected on its stone foundation.

Another local example of the Italian Villa style was the home of Waynesburg College President A. B. Miller at the NE corner of Morris and Wayne Streets, since demolished. Like Farmers & Drovers, classical pediments adorn the window and door openings. (Waynesburg Prosperous & Beautiful, 1907,

Friday, October 9, 2015


Early postcard view by W. T. Hays shows the building before it was raised three feet to accommodate a full basement. (

When Asa Warren Morris moved to Yolo County, California, in 1879, he did not forget his Greene County family, friends and pioneer values. Twenty-one years later, the successful cattle breeder contributed generously to the construction of Waynesburg Christian Church, as did many local citizens. Today, this beautiful stone structure continues to grace the corner of Morris and Franklin Streets.

Asa Warren Morris. (Photo provided by his great-granddaughter, Lynne Gough)

The church began in 1897 with the formation of a Ladies Aid Society, inspired by several rousing revivals. A year and a half later, the congregation was fully organized and raising funds for a building. Chair of the capital campaign was Mrs. Harvey Call (Martha Morris). She was both Asa’s sister and sister-in-law because his wife, Mary Elizabeth Call, was Harvey’s sister. Many members of the extended Call and Morris families were charter members of the church, according to Asa’s great-granddaughter, Lynne Gough, of Sacramento, CA. 

Circa 1901, shortly after completion. The streets were not paved until a few years later.  (

Construction began in the fall of 1900, the cornerstone was laid January 1, 1901, and within 12 months the building was complete. Asa and Mary Elizabeth travelled cross-country by train for the dedication ceremony on December 15, 1901.  

The design is Richardsonian Romanesque with a rusticated stone exterior, multiple arched window and door openings and a square entrance tower. Particularly characteristic of Richardson’s work are the four narrow, cylindrical towers with conical caps at the corners of the bell tower.  

George David Jenkins, borough engineer, supervised installation of the sewer system and paving the streets with bricks.  Photo is ca. 1905. (

The stone was quarried on Smith Creek Road, south of town. It’s the same “Waynesburg Sandstone” used in Soldiers and Sailors Monument and South Ward School. The masons were A. I. and S. A. Rinehart who built a number of fine stone houses in Waynesburg.

The architect was Jennings Moss McCollum, a native of Amity, Washington County, who had just opened an office in the Pittsburgh Bank for Savings building that he had designed.

Washington Trust Builidng, ca. 1908
McCullom is best known for the Washington Trust Building (1903). In 1899, he won the competition for the Carnegie Free Library in Connellsville. He designed many fine schools and convents throughout the area, including Immaculate Conception School (1901) in Washington, PA.  

The church interior was ornately painted by local fresco artist T. E. Kennedy in 1905.  This illustration appeared in Fred High's book, Waynesburg Prosperous and Beautiful, published two years later.  (

An impressive list of local craftsmen constructed the church, many of whom were leaders of the congregation, including general contractor W. F. Blair, master carpenters Rufus K. and Clifton B. Ullom and the mechanical genius Norval Hoge. 

View looking east into lecture hall. Although the frescoes are gone, the original, dark-stained woodwork and cove ceiling remain. Handles on the twin roll-up doors are visible. The lecture hall was originally furnished with chairs. The lanterns were installed in 1961.  

The interior is arranged in the popular “Akron Plan” with a large preaching auditorium and adjoining side lecture hall. The rooms are separated by a pair of enormous roll-up doors that still work. The original woodwork is dark stained, and the sanctuary ceiling is vaulted. The space is richly adorned with more than two dozen stained glass windows, all original to the building. 

The sanctuary's vaulted ceiling is finished today with beadboard.  

 Two of the stained glass windows on the Morris Street elevation were given by members of the Morris family: on the left, Asa's father, Capt. John Morris, and on the right, George M. and Elizabeth F. Church.  Plaques on the central triple window indicate more recent dedications.  

In 1925, the structure was raised three feet to construct a full basement for the Sunday School department. Asa Morris contributed to this second project when he returned to Waynesburg in 1920. For all of their lives, he and Mary Elizabeth remained committed to the Christian Churches in both Waynesburg and Woodland, CA.  When Asa died in 1921, funerals were held simultaneously in both locations.

A view of the church today shows the higher elevation and elongated rear entrance.   The ramp is a more recent addition.  On the right, not visible in this photo, is an educational building added in 1965.