Thursday, April 13, 2017


This column first appeared in the April 2017 issue of GreeneSPEAK!

Vintage postcard printed by W. T. Hays. Miller Hall on left, Hanna Hall on right. (

Miller Hall, the administration building of Waynesburg University, is the most important Victorian building in Waynesburg. It was designed in 1872 by Pittsburgh architect James W. Drum. The style is “Second Empire,” inspired by the elegance of Paris during the “Second Empire” reign of Napoleon III. Miller Hall has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1977. It is significant historically and architecturally.

Alfred Brashear Miller (
It is named for college president Alfred Brashear Miller who devoted a large part of his life to its completion. He worked ceaselessly at fund-raising, and often taught and administered without pay, supporting his family as a Cumberland Presbyterian minister. With the help of students, he made many of the 1,400,000 bricks in the building from clay dug on site.

Facing Miller Hall across the Commons, this is the home that A. B. and Margaret Bell Miller built in the Italianate style about 1857 at the corner of Morris and Wayne Streets.  In the early 20th century, it was expanded and remodeled by the Sayers family and came to be known as "Sayers Manor." Later demolished by Waynesburg University. ("Waynesburg Prosperous and Beautiful," Fred High, 1907)

When Waynesburg College began in 1850, it had only one building, now known as Hanna Hall. As the school grew, it soon became inadequate. From the beginning of his presidency in 1859, Miller understood the need for a second, larger building. Foreseeing growing demand for higher education and increasing competition from other institutions, he wrote: “To arise and build is the only way to escape being swallowed up by this competition.” 

Printed in the "The Women's Centennial Paper," August 1896, this could be the original drawing by Architect J. W. Drum.

Rear view. The center three windows on third floor are Alumni Hall. (Council of Independent Colleges: Historic Campus Architecture Project)

He visited campuses at Bethany, Swarthmore, Princeton and Rutgers, deciding on types and sizes of rooms and architectural detail. Based on his specifications, James W. Drum created floor plans and exterior elevations that were unanimously accepted by the Trustees, although other, better known architects had also submitted drafts. Drum was newly arrived in Pittsburgh from Indiana, PA, where he had designed Sutton Hall, the first building on the Indiana University of Pennsylvania campus. 

John Sutton Hall, Indiana Normal School, now I. U. P., 1875. (
Finally, in 1874, the Waynesburg Trustees approved construction, but only on a “pay-as-you-go” basis. Fund-raising continued slowly, and so did construction. Cornerstones were laid in 1879, the roof completed by 1882, two interior staircases finished in 1888, and so it progressed. Finally, in 1899, all debts were paid and Miller Hall was dedicated. By then, Second Empire was out-of-fashion, but this fact does not diminish its significance. 

One of two matching newel posts in Miller Hall, constructed by the Ullom Brothers, Waynesburg's master staircase builders. (Photo by Mary Beth Pastorius)

From about 1850-1900, Second Empire was the most popular style for institutional buildings in the United States. Other fine collegiate examples are located at Washington & Jefferson, California (PA), Duquesne and West Virginia Universities.

In addition to Indiana’s Sutton Hall, Drum designed the Old Courthouse there, and the Jefferson County Courthouse, located not far from his hometown of Punxsutawney. After Miller Hall, he had a prolific career in Pittsburgh, including the County Home in Uniontown and Central School in Monongahela, both demolished in the 1960-70s. 
The Old Indiana County Courthouse, 1869, designed by J. W. Drum with a gold leaf cupola clock tower. Today, First Commonwealth Bank. (Downtown Indiana Historic District.)

Typical of the Second Empire, Miller Hall has great height, topped by a mansard roof with ornately decorated dormers. There is a massive entrance tower and segmented, arched windows of colored glass. Local sandstone quarried south of town forms the foundation, decorative columns and window caps. Both outer and interior supporting walls are brick, two feet thick. There is an abundance of finely crafted wood trim inside and out. Several interior rooms were decorated by local organizations in the ornate fashions of the period. 

Library on second floor of Miller Hall, 1905. (TPS at Waynesburg University, photo album)

Alumni Hall was in the middle of the third floor, 1905 view. (TPS at Waynesburg University, photo album)

Philomanthean ("Philo") Hall at Waynesburg University was located on the west side of the third floor, shown here in 1905. Another literary society, Union, was on the east side. (TPS at Waynesburg University, photo album)


Fayette County Home at Uniontown, designed by J. W. Drum in 1883. Demolished 1977. (Vintage postcard.)
Central School, Monongahela, PA, designed by Drum and Steen, 1880-81, possibly the architects' presentation drawing. Demolished ca. 1961-2. (Photo courtesy of Terry Necciai.)
Stephen C. Foster School in Lawrenceville, City of Pittsburgh, was the last work of Architect J. W. Drum, completed after his death in 1884. Until 1939, it was used by the city schools, later leased to the Catholic Boys Center. (Senator John Heinz History Center)