Thursday, December 5, 2019


This column first appeared in the December 2019 issue of GreeneSPEAK!
The author recently restored this handsome Italianate design, now known as the Hook-Morgan Building

 In 1870, harness maker John T. Hook built one of the first mixed-use buildings in Waynesburg at the corner of High and Morgan Streets. It had four storerooms with separate entrances plus a vestibule leading to residences above. Earlier, shops, taverns and inns had been located in homes with customers and family members sharing a single door.

Along with the Downey House Hotel and Odd Fellows & Masonic Building (later Opera House), the Hook Building introduced a new era of development in Waynesburg. The Civil War was over and businessmen were again confident in the local economy. 

By the early 20th century when this postcard was made there were many 3-story mixed use buildings like the Hook Building in downtown Waynesburg. It's on the left, fourth building down.

Architectural fashion had moved away from classicism and now "Victorian" styles such as Italianate and Second Empire were popular. These buildings were tall with more ornate wood trim, manufactured at steam-powered sawmills, a new innovation.

They also introduced a new, 3-story height to High Street. Almost as tall as the Courthouse, they dwarfed the smaller colonial buildings around them.  

1864 photo shows the Crawford House that earlier stood on the site of the Hook Building. Behind it, across Morgan Street, is Greene County's first bank, Farmers & Drovers, built in 1859 by Jesse Hook, a cousin of John T. Hook.

The Hook Building replaced a house built in 1814 by William Crawford, reportedly Waynesburg’s first merchant. It was described in estate documents as a “mansion” or “large brick house.” 

When John T. Hook built anew in 1870, he re-used its sturdy sandstone foundation and basic floor plan, extending along Morgan Street to form an L-shaped building with an interior, 2-story porch, a common feature of the late 19th century.  

This ca. 1907 view of the Hook Building (on right) shows its original L-shape.

Today, ceilings in the basement display wood from both structures. Floor joists have straight cut marks from an early, simpler mill while floor boards have round, quarter-sawn marks, typical of the 1870s. 

Scabbled and drafted sandstone treatment at the Gordon House (1843) near Waynesburg is identical to the Hook Building. "Early Architecture of Western Pennsylvania" by Stotz, 1936.

Along Morgan Street the building features a special treatment of sandstone called “scabbled and draftedthat appears on other Greene County buildings of similar vintage. Walls were built of bricks from Jesse Hook’s East Waynesburg brickyard. Typical of Italianate style, the building has over 8-feet tall windows that are arched with eyebrow lintels of either sandstone or brick. The low gable roof has wide eaves.

John T. Hook.

Eliza (Inghram) Hook.
The Hook family lived on the second and third floors with John T., wife Eliza and some of their eight children facing Morgan Street and son John Polk Hook and family along High Street. After his father retired, John P. continued the harness/saddle business until automobiles made it obsolete, then opened an upholstery shop in a first floor storeroom. Another brother, Attorney William I. Hook, also lived and worked in the building. The family owned the building until 1921. 

During restoration, this sign was found in the attic.

John Polk Hook.

Today, storefronts are occupied by Peacock Keller Law Firm, Community Foundation and Flutter. Through the years, among the many tenants were a grocery, dentist, music store, jewelry, millinery, plumber, tailor, wallpaper, men’s and women’s clothing, restaurant, barber, paint store, credit bureau, hairdresser, cable company and stained glass artists.

Next issue, I’ll write about restoring the building. I know it well; I’ve owned it since 2007.