Friday, April 8, 2016


This column first appeared in the April 2016 issue of GreeneSPEAK!

Restoration continues at the Silveus House.
If these walls could talk” came true recently for the new owners of the Silveus House—formerly “Sisters 4 Tea”-- in downtown Waynesburg. During restoration of the 1892 structure, Bradley and Michael Bledsoe discovered original blueprints signed by Architect T. D. Evans of Pittsburgh. Regional architectural historians are excited about their discovery because 19th century blueprints are rare and the work of T. D. Evans is significant.
Early 20th century view of High Street looking east.  The Silveus house is on the left behind the tree.  (

Located at the corner of High and Cumberland Streets, the large single-family residence has as its main feature a massive, square tower that emphasizes its prominent position at the top of “Town Hill”. It was built for attorney A. F. Silveus in the “Queen Anne” style, the last of the Victorian architectural fashions, in a period known as the “Gilded Age”. In Waynesburg, the Silveus House marked the beginning of an era of opulent home construction, financed by an oil and gas boom, and chronicled in 1907 in the book, Waynesburg Prosperous and Beautiful.

 Original elevation drawing by Architect T. D. Evans, 1892.  Photo by Bradley and Michael Bledsoe.

In addition to the tower, the front has a wide projecting bay with triangular gable decorated with spindle brackets. Both the tower and gable are covered with fish scale shingles. A large porch wraps around two sides of the design, accentuating its asymmetry. Studying the blueprints, one sees that major changes were made during construction. The front and side bays were reversed from the architect’s plan and the rear wing was omitted.

Beautiful paneling in the entrance hall. (Bradley and Michael Bledsoe)
Interior innovations were also introduced by the Queen Anne style. Floor plans became more open and inviting with the development of central heating. Whereas older houses had narrow entrance halls, visitors to the Silveus House were welcomed into a large “living hall” with fireplace and grand staircase. From there, guests entered the parlor and dining room through wide openings with pocket doors, an arrangement that created a large, open space for entertaining. 

Parlor of the Silveus House.   

Original hardware on pocket door between entrance hall and parlor.
The caliber of wood paneling, doors, cabinets, hardware, lighting and heating fixtures in the Silveus House is superb, and well preserved by the Bledsoes. Credit for the handsome period woodwork goes to the architect, T. D. Evans, whose Welsh father and brother were cabinet makers.

Handsome built-in cabinetry in the dining room

Waynesburg has at least two other buildings designed by Evans. One is the house next-door on the eastern portion of the same lot. Built of matching brick, it has an almost identical projecting bay and a recessed hyphen with steeply pointed gable. It was built by the same contractor, Stephen Acklin, immediately after the larger house was completed. When Silveus sold the lot for the smaller house, he included so many specifications in the deed that it is obvious the two houses were designed as a pair.  

Next door, the house with green awnings was built immediately after the Silveus residence. Both have a wide bay with gable dormer covered with fish scale shingles, supported by matching ornate brackets..

A. F. Silveus during his student days at Waynesburg College before he became a prominent local attorney.  (
Seven years earlier, Silveus, Acklin and Evans had worked together on a major addition to the Greene County Poor Farm, today the Greene County Historical Society and Museum. At that time (1885), Acklin was a county commissioner and Silveus was county solicitor.   

Large dining hall addition to the Greene County Poor Farm, designed by T. D. Evans, now the Greene County Historical Society Museum.

Dormitory added at the same time, also designed by Evans.
Evans created many schools, jails, firehouses, churches, office buildings, early department stores, factories and residences throughout western Pennsylvania during his 30-year career, including all of the early buildings at Morganza Reform School in Canonsburg. He was a founding member and early president of the Pittsburgh chapter of the A.I.A. (American Institute of Architects).

Many of Evans's best designs have been lost including this one. Photo and text credit:"South Side Facts," Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation.


He had served in the 14th PA Cavalry during the Civil War and been seriously wounded. His architectural career began after the war when he trained under Pittsburgh architects Barr & Moser at a time when they were designing administration buildings for both California State (PA) and Washington and Jefferson Colleges. 

Thomas D. Evans. Photo accompanying his obiturary in "The Cambrian," August 1903, vol. 23, no. 8, pp. 344-345.  

All photos not otherwise identified are by Mary Beth Pastorius.

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