|The Log Courthouse today. Photo courtesy of Cornerstone Genealogical Society.|
The Greene County Log Courthouse at 144 East Greene Street is the only original log courthouse on its original site in Pennsylvania, and possibly the nation. It is also the oldest building in Waynesburg, having been constructed weeks after the founding of the town and county in November 1796.
|Artist Jess Hager's depiction of the Log Courthouse in 1797. Copies of this print can be purchased at Cornerstone Genealogical Society.|
|Artist Thomas McConville's depiction of the log courthouse in 1797. Prints for sale at Cornerstone Genealogical Society.|
Greene County’s first Sheriff, James Hook, purchased the lot and hired builders George Graham and George Ullom (one of my ancestors). The Log Courthouse faced the only street in existence at that time, an old Indian trail re-named Greene Street. Within three months, it was complete and court sessions were being held on the second floor. The building featured a double-story front porch with exterior staircase leading to the courtroom. Other county business was conducted in two rooms on the first floor, heated by a double “turkey breast” fireplace.
|Before 1828, wood siding was installed over the logs. This early 20th century view shows subsequent additions.|
By 1800, the Log Courthouse had become a private residence, a use that continued into the mid-20th century. However, its original identity was remembered, at least in deeds. As early as 1809, a deed referred to it as “that certain house commonly called the Old Court House.” The building’s appearance changed in the 1820s when wood siding covered the logs. In 1855, the first floor was converted to commercial use when a steam carding machine was installed. Subsequent commercial uses included carpentry, tailoring, remodeling supplies and furniture stripping.
|Large store windows were added in the 1960s. Fortunately, the owner saved the logs. Photo courtesy of Cornerstone Genealogical Society.|
Two large albums at Cornerstone Genealogical Society detail a 24-year effort to save the building. The first impetus came in 1978 from Judge Glenn R. Toothman Jr., followed in the 1990s by Terry Cole, Dave Lesako and the Greene County Historical Society. In 2000, the County of Greene assumed ownership, financing a complete re-build of the historic building and the addition of a modern library at the rear, designed by Ellis Schmidlapp of Landmarks Design Associates, Pittsburgh.