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.   

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