Friday, November 2, 2018


Aerial view (1971) of the church and rectory, on left.

The site of St. Ann Church is even more historic than its 1871 building. From 1799 until today, the Roman Catholic diocese has owned the corner of High and Cumberland Streets.    

While some historians described a simple log chapel on the site ca. 1800, others said there was no early building and the few Catholics in Waynesburg worshipped in private homes. The truth is lost in time.  What is known is that in 1817 a traveling priest wrote to the Bishop of Baltimore: “There is scarcely a Catholic in Waynesburg and very few in the neighboring county. Of course there is scarcely any prospect of building a church there for several years.”

We do know that a chapel of hand-made bricks, begun in 1832 and completed in 1839, was dedicated to St. Ann. It, however, became unstable and within 20 years, in the 1850’s, services resumed in private homes. 

The church in 1903.The large log house on the left was replaced in 1924 by the Reed/Clendenning House, today the Rectory. Photo by Gilbert Hays. Source:greene

In 1870-71, a period of prosperity after the Civil War, the present sanctuary was erected at the same time as the Downey House, Opera House and Hook/Morgan Building (which the author recently renovated).

The church today.
The style of St. Ann Church is Victorian Gothic Revival. Tall lancet windows inside pointed arches are on the side elevations, separated by brick pilasters that function as faux columns, repeating a design device used twenty years earlier at the Courthouse and Hanna Hall.

Transom over entrance doors is today hidden by a porch roof.  In this early view, one wonders if it is awaiting stained glass. Pilasters adorn the front and sides of the building. Source: St. Ann Church Centennial brochure, 1971.

The sole window in front is a large rosette of decorative stained glass with pairs of pilasters on either side. Brick corbels project under the cornice to support roof beams. An octagonal belfry tops the steeply pitched gable roof, crowned by a pyramidal spire and cross. Inside, an antique bell rings regularly with beautiful tone. 

An early 20th century postcard view of the interior. Source:

During its nearly 150-year history, as might be expected, the church building has been expanded and remodeled several times. On the exterior, double entrance doors, a covered porch and ornamental iron trim are newer additions. The 20th century also brought more stained glass windows. 

The interior today.

Contemporary view of side wing added to the sanctuary in the 20th century.

In 1897, the congregation erected a rectory along Cherry Alley after the arrival of its first resident priest. Major additions in 1934 and 1967 added two wings to the sanctuary, a rear parish hall and classrooms. 

First rectory, built 1897. View from Cumberland Street.
Today’s rectory is the former home/office of Dr. William Clendenning which the church purchased in 1975. It was built in 1925-26 by William K. Reed, a local contractor and Waynesburg Borough engineer, for his wife Jane (Ross) Reed. At the same time, Reed’s company was excavating foundations for the new Ft. Jackson Hotel and Silveus Buildings following the tragic Downey House fire.   

The Rectory, formerly Reed/Clendenning House.

Typical of the 1920s, the house plan is irregular with wide overhanging eaves, strong horizontal lines, and limited ornamentation in the Prairie style of architecture developed by Frank Lloyd Wright. This example of early “modern” design features a low slate roof and squat dormers with many windows grouped in twos and threes. The entrance is covered with a bay porch.

Both the church and rectory are important contributors to the architectural integrity of downtown Waynesburg. I commend the congregation for their continuing care.

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