Monday, December 14, 2015


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

The Jonathan Funk house today.  (Mary Beth Pastorius)

One of the most interesting houses in Waynesburg faces Sunrise Park and East Greene Street. Today, the simple, refined exterior gives little indication that it was once decorated with elaborate Victorian trim, designed to showcase the products of its lumberyard owner, Jonathan M. Funk. In the 1930s, the second owner, attorney Robert Thompson, removed the frills, converting it to a classic Colonial Revival. It is unusual that both versions are fine examples of their style.  More common is for “remodelings” to become “remuddlings,” but not in this case.

Another view of the house.  (Mary Beth Pastorius)

The house was erected ca. 1876 in Italianate style, the first of the so-called Victorian architectural fashions that followed the more formal Greek Revival. Modeled after picturesque Italian villas rather than classic temples, Italianate houses were decorated with intricately-carved wood trim, made possible by the invention of the steam-powered saw. However, their plan was the same as early American buildings, making possible their later conversions to Colonial Revival when fancy Victorian dĂ©cor was no longer popular. 

Watercolor view of the house and fence as built in 1876.   (Suzanne Wylie)

 When built, the Funk House had decorative brackets below its wide overhanging eaves and frilly eyebrow moldings around round-headed windows. The roof of the broad, veranda-style porch was supported by broadly curved arches.  

The ornate fence in front of the house, now gone, was a stellar example of “Carpenter Gothic.” This term describes the many patterns that Victorian carpenters cut from wood, replicating Gothic stone carvings. The classically pedimented gate posts, topped with urns, were inspired by the Greek Revival. All three styles--Italianate, Gothic and Greek Revival—evolved from the Romantic movement of the mid-19th century that influenced art, literature and music as well as architecture.   

The earliest known panoramic photo of Waynesburg (ca. 1876) shows the house in construction. Chimneys have not yet appeared above the roofline, and a large ladder rests against the rear elevation. 

Hexagonal newel post and ornate staircase spindles in entrance hall.  (Mary Beth Pastorius)

Today, the interior of the house is much the same as when built. The center hall features the original curved staircase with hexagonal newel post and there are marble mantelpieces in most rooms.

Original marble mantelpiece in a bedroom.  (Mary Beth Pastorius)

In the 1930s, two residences were built next-door to the newly remodeled Funk House, all in Colonial Revival style. Together, they make an attractive grouping.

Originally, the Funk House stood in a country-like setting outside the borough boundary. The mill occupied the rest of the large tract that extended east and south to where Purman Run enters Ten Mile Creek, including what is today Wiley Stadium of Waynesburg University. The area behind the house was not developed until East Lincoln Street was extended to the Crawford Bridge in 1903.

The Funk Planing Mill was one of two established in Waynesburg shortly after the Civil War. The other was located nearby on East Greene Street where Avalon Court is today. Together, they produced much of the fine Victorian woodwork that is still seen and enjoyed throughout the town.

Fountain and statue that stood in Sunrise Park, now gone. (Photo by W. T. Hays as it appears in The Waynesburg Commons and Parks, 2004, G. Wayne Smith)

Although the land that became Sunrise Park was reserved in Waynesburg’s original plan of 1796, it was not developed as a park until 100 years later. In 1909, a fountain was added, making the park even more beautiful. In the center was a 5-foot tall statue of a woman holding a pitcher over her head from which water flowed. Today, the fountain is gone and the location of the statue is unknown.