Saturday, May 14, 2016


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

This early 20th century postcard view of downtown Waynesburg shows how little the block has changed. Ganiear Building is on the far left.  Next to it is the Ganiear family home, painted yellow. (

Although “Ganiear’s” is written across the decorative metal cornice at the top of 138 East High Street, the place is more often described today as the “Floral Building,” recognizing the Waynesburg Floral business that was long operated by the Rice family. Many Waynesburgers have a fondness for this building with happy memories of going inside to pick up bouquets and boutonnieres for the prom or flowers for their wedding.

The Ganiear Building on the morning of April 6, 2016, as its rear wings are demolished.

Sadly, in the past decade, they’ve watched the abandonment and deterioration of this handsome building by a subsequent owner who did not maintain the roof. As large holes began to appear, rain and snow caused major damage inside, destroying pressed tin ceilings, plaster walls and hardwood floors.   

Demolition of middle section of the building. The Ganiear Barn is on the right.

Now there’s good news to report. The Redevelopment Authority (RDA) of Greene County has gained ownership and addressed the blight. Based on a structural engineering analysis, they demolished the unstable rear portions on April 6th. Now they are focused on saving the front (original) section with an adaptive re-use that will include both commercial and residential. 

The front section of the building will be saved. On the left is the rear of Ganiear House with the new two-story porch added by the author.

The Ganiear name has been associated with this lot since 1847 when a cabinetmaker named James Ganiear, and his wife, the former Rebecca Johnson, purchased it from the estate of William Crawford. Like all original lots in Waynesburg, it was 60 feet wide and 180 feet deep. 

A small colonial house of hand-made bricks stood along the western property line at that time. James and Rebecca added rooms, creating the 5-bay front façade that continues today, highlighted by a central entrance door with fan and sidelights. Members of the family lived in the house for the next 120 years, finally selling in 1976.  

Ganiear House today.

Today, I am the proud owner of “Ganiear House.” After five years of renovation, it is fully restored and occupied. The Brandon Meyer Law Office is on the first floor with two apartments on the second. Behind the house is a barn that was the original location of the furniture shop. The barn also sheltered the family cow, horse, buggy, and even a horse-drawn hearse. The hearse was necessary because, in addition to making furniture, the Ganiears were undertakers. Although this combination seems strange today, it was typical in the 19th century when cabinetmakers also made coffins.

Before James died in 1864, he had expanded the business to a frame shop on the eastern end of the lot, next to Whiskey Alley (today Wood Street). Rebecca and their sons, John Hayes (“Hayes”) and David, continued the business, followed by grandson Charles Hedge Ganiear. 

J. Hayes Ganiear, son Charles Hedge Ganiear and grandchildren in front of the family business.  Published in 1907 in Waynesburg Prosperous and Beautiful by Fred High.  (

Between 1896 and 1900, Hayes Ganiear replaced the frame shop with a handsome 3-story brick structure. Its front was built of rusticated sandstone, topped with a cast metal cornice that proudly announced the family name. This was the beginning of the current “Floral Building,” and is the part that will be saved by the RDA. Similar cornices were added to other buildings in the block at the same time, including next door at Ganiear House, changing the roof line from gable to shed. 

Following a family tragedy in 1908, Hayes Ganiear sold the furniture and undertaking business to G. Edward Huffman who is shown here with his family.  Professional photograph by Babbitt, Waynesburg.  (

 The Ganiear Building was first expanded between 1902 and 1906, and then again sometime after 1918, making it a full 180-feet long. According to descendant Charles Ganiear, the family made and sold furniture on the first floor, while manufacturing caskets and embalming in the lower level. This area was in the middle section of the building, entered from the side alley. In 1908, the Ganiears sold the businesses to G. Edward Huffman and family, but continued to own the building until 1953.