Friday, February 1, 2019


Sayers Corner with its red tin roof is prominently located next to the Court House.  The street sign reads: Danger, Run, Slow. Ca. 1915 postcard printed by W. T. Hays.

Long known as “Sayers Corner,” the building at the corner of High and Church Streets dates back to the very beginning of Waynesburg. Much of it is more than 200 years old.  

The two-story building is named for the Sayers family who owned it almost 150 years, beginning in 1840. Long a retail hub, it is one of two early 19th century buildings that have miraculously survived in downtown Waynesburg. The other is the Messenger Building located a block away at the corner of High and Washington. 

Sayers & Hoskinson sold dry goods across the street from the Court House which is being renovated in this ca. 1876 photo.  Greene County Historical Society, gift of Miss Catherine Sayers.

Sayers Corner is best appreciated from across High Street near First Federal where one can observe that the front and side wings, although both brick, are not the same height. The shorter wing along Church Street is older, dating to 1808-1812. From its front room, innkeeper Robert Cathers enlisted men to go to Baltimore to fight in the War of 1812.  

 By 1825, Sayers Corner had gained its current appearance when innkeeper Thomas Hoskinson erected the main wing facing High Street. His establishment was described as a “Tavern Stand” in an early advertisement. In the days before paved roads, this was one of many inns in Waynesburg that accommodated residents of outlying townships who were conducting business at the county seat.

In his landmark book, “Early Architecture of Western Pennsylvania” (1936), author Charles Morse Stotz described colonial structures like Sayers Corner as “buildings without traditional style”. He wrote:   “These must be counted among the most interesting architectural remains of the district. Their quiet lines and excellent mass are wholly satisfying.”  

Sayers Corner before 1931. Waynesburg scrapbook at Cornerstone Genealogical Society.

 Today, Sayers Corner maintains its colonial look despite having had its bricks painted, windows replaced and storefront entrances expanded. 

William Wood (W.W.) Sayers was the first of his family to own the building beginning in 1840. He lived on the second floor with his wife and seven children while operating the inn plus his primary business, a stone and marble yard next door on Church Street. His partner was Simon Rinehart. Known in later years as “Uncle Billy”, he owned other real estate with his brother Ezra M. Sayers, an attorney. According to his 1886 obituary, W. W. owned three-fourths of the town at one time or another.

Early photo of Court House (ca. 1860) shows Sayers & Rinehart marble yard to the right on Cider Alley (today Church Street).

 By 1866, if not earlier, the corner room had become “Sayers & Hoskinson,” a dry goods store. Partner George Hoskinson’s father had built this wing fronting High Street 40 years earlier. George Hoskinson and W. W. Sayers were cousins, grandsons of Robert Adams, one of the first settlers of Waynesburg.

Sayers Corner looking west, some time after 1926. Patterson & Milliken and J. R. Cross Groceries/Confectionary are advertised. Photo by William E. S. Fletcher,

Moving ahead to 1896, the corner storefront was “Morris & Sayers” advertising that they clothed head and foot.  While the shoe department was managed by Lewis Wetzel Sayers, a grandson of W.W., Mrs. Henrietta Morris supervised millinery. She was one of the first women engaged in business in Greene County. At the same time, the other large storefront on High Street was the Silveus & Sayers bicycle shop. Years later, it was Joe Riggs Sporting Goods Store, site of my first job during high school selling Pendleton wool. 

Next month, I’ll write about the innovative 3-story office building that in 1908 rose from the site of the old Sayers & Rinehart marble yard, and the architect who designed it.

Here's another one-time occupant of Sayers Corner:

The painted letters on the right (corner) window mark the first location of Peoples Bank-- from its founding in 1897 until it completed in 1907 its own office building across High Street.

The interior of People Bank in its Sayers Corner location. "Waynesburg Prosperous and Beautiful," Fred High, 1907.