Monday, September 11, 2017


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

The Dr. J. T. Ullom House today.

At the height of Waynesburg’s “Golden Age” of oil and gas prosperity, in 1898, Dr. J. T. Ullom built a grand residence at the corner of High and Richhill Streets. Today it’s the headquarters of Hook and Hook law firm.

Constructed of locally quarried sandstone, the house is a well preserved example of “Queen Anne” architecture with elements of other late Victorian influences: Shingle, Richardsonian Romanesque and Classical Revival. 

This vintage view shows the Cumberland Presbyterian Church that stood next door until 1942.  It was replaced by a supermarket. www.greeneconnections. com

Typical of the Queen Anne style, the Ullom House has an opulent profusion of design elements. Among them, most dominant is a round tower that rises three stories from the SW corner of the house, topped by a conically-shaped roof covered with fish-scaled slate. The tower is balanced on either side by massive gables, steeply pitched. 

The side gable is cantilevered beyond the plane of the wall below and covered with wood shingles. It contains a triple window of diamond-cut glass, topped by a broad Richardsonian arch. A rounded, two-story bay and an arched staircase window are below the gable.  

An early gas station on Richhill Street replaced gardens on the west elevation. www.greeneconnections. com
On the front façade, there’s another Richardsonian arch, this one constructed of heavily rusticated stone. It shelters a recessed porch and small, stained glass window. The front façade is united by a broad porch extending the full width of the house. The porch is classically detailed with a denticulate cornice, Doric columns and carved gable medallion.

Ca. 1908 view of the intersection of North Richhill Street (on the left) and West High Street.

There are two entrances facing High Street. The main door has a window of cut lead glass with transom above. The second door opens directly into the front parlor, facilitating use as a doctor’s office. 

Main entrance door.

Curved interior shutters..
Inside, the curved glass windows of the tower are lined with original wooden shutters of the same shape, a masterpiece of carpentry skill. Many of Dr. Ullom’s cousins were carpenters and staircase builders who likely created the beautiful woodwork that’s preserved throughout the house. 

Stone mason S. A. Rinehart built the exterior at the same time he was working on Soldiers and Sailors Monument in the Commons.

Staircase in "living hall" with beaded screen, elaborate paneling, newel post and spindles.

The Queen Anne style was the first to eschew the narrow, central hallway of earlier architectural fashion. Instead, guests were welcomed into a large “Living Hall” with fireplace, paneled staircase and cozy tower nook with beaded spindle-work screens. Pocket doors leading into the parlor and dining room could be opened to accommodate large groups.

Dr. J. T. Ullom in."Waynesburg Prosperous & Beautiful," 1907.

Five years before he built his house, Dr. Ullom served as chair of the building committee of Washington Street Methodist Church, increasing the probability that the same craftsmen created both buildings. 

Second owner George E. Rice in "Waynesburg Prosperous & Beautiful," 1907. 

In 1910, Dr. Ullom sold the house to another prominent local businessman, George E. Rice. Both were investors in oil, coal and gas. However, Rice was also a land developer and owner of the first Ford dealership in town. Occupancy continued with his son, James P. Rice, professor of business administration at Waynesburg College.  The family sold to Hook & Hook in 1993.