Rices Landing Historic District
Rices Landing, Greene County, Pennsylvania
Contact Persons: Ryan T. Belski, Mayor and Bill Kovich, President Borough Council
Rices Landing Borough Building
PO Box 185, 137 Main Street, Rices Landing, PA 15357
Phone: 724-592-6055 / Fax: 724-592-6717
The Rices Landing Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in Greene County, PA on December 24, 1992. Take a step back in history at the edge of the Monongahela River in Rices Landing. One of the earliest overnight visitors was George Washington, when he and his troops camped here on their way to Pittsburgh. Rices Landing came into being in 1801 when Benjamin Franklin, mapping the area, combined two communities separated by Enoch Run (now named Pumpkin Run). Rices Landing has a rich history as a busy stop for river boats transporting coal and other goods and many of the historic buildings still exist in this peaceful community along the Mon.
National Register of Historic Places Rices Landing Historic District #92001723:
The district is dominated by one- to two-story examples of vernacular Victorian, Colonial Revival, and American Craftsman style buildings. Notable non-residential buildings include the Methodist Episcopal Church (1873), brick jail (1850s), W.A. Young & Sons Foundry and Machine Shop, Excelsior Pottery, Rice's Landing National Bank building, Hughes store, and the Nash-Rambler Garage. Contributing structures include the remains of Monongahela River Lock Number 6, concrete bridge (1914), railroad bridge (1913), railroad tunnel (1913), and Dilworth Mine related structures.
Built circa 1900, the W.A. Young & Sons Foundry and Machine Shop is contributing property to the Rice's Landing Historic District.
Roughly bounded by the Monongahela River, Water, Second, Bayard, Carmichael, High, Main and Ferry including Pumpkin Run Peak.
Rice's Landing occupies a narrow and level river terrace, precipitous hillslope, and level ridgetop adjacent to the Monongahela River in northeastern Greene County. Pumpkin Run, a deeply embedded tributary of the river, bisects the Rice's Landing Historic District which is composed of 63 buildings, five structures and four archaeological sites. This integrated community is dominated by vernacular buildings of one to two stories dating from the Mid-Victorian to Craftsman period. Through the small scale vernacular buildings, the preserved riverfront, and the geological setting, this district has retained its integrity as a river port from the mid-to-late 19th century and the railroad/coal era of the early 20th century.
The descent from a steep hilltop down the winding corridor of Main Street to the narrow river terrace below, offers an inspiring view of the meandering river and verdant hillsides on the opposite shore. The community's orientation to the river remains in the preservation of the river front and Pumpkin Run as community parks. The original mid-19th century linear town plan is situated at the river terrace on both sides of Pumpkin Run.
Until the town was incorporated in 1903, two separate communities known as Rice's Landing to the northwest and Newport to the southeast were divided by the Cumberland and Jefferson Township line. The borough integrated the two linear town plans into one community. A commercial section of the town developed in response to construction of the Monongahela River lock in Rice's Landing while the Newport section contained early industrial sites including a planing mill, machine shop, and pottery. A ferry landing at the northwestern end of Rice's Landing and a boat launching site at the juncture of Pumpkin Run provided additional access to river transportation.
Three main roads — Jefferson Street (Millsboro Road), L.R 30077, and Carmichaels Street located on the west, central, and east sides of town connected Rice's Landing with the uplands and Route 88, the main road to Waynesburg. The Pennsylvania Railroad line occupied the edge of the level terrace at the base of the steep uplands.
The narrow river terrace at Rice's Landing afforded expansion only along Main Street and River Avenue. Later development continued to the steeply sloping upland hills and narrow, level benches that terminate on upland ridgetops south and southwest of the town. On streets overlooking the river, folk houses and vernacular Late Victorian and Colonial Revival houses of wood were constructed from 1880 to 1930. The southeastern boundary of the district includes a row of Craftsman and Colonial Revival houses built from 1905 to 1930 on a level upland ridgetop within a subdivision of Bayard Street. The architecture of the Rice's Landing Historic District symbolizes the small-scale vernacular and folk expressions of river towns.
The principal alterations in the district have occurred as a result of building demolitions on the southeastern river terrace, and in the commercial section of town. Small additions to accommodate new bathrooms and porches as well as the application of aluminum siding over original clapboards on some houses are the major modifications to residential buildings.
Buildings from the river port era include the Methodist Episcopal Church built in 1873, an 1850s brick jail, and several vernacular wood houses from the Mid-to Late-Victorian period. The general store, an Art Deco bank, and an early Hudson-Rambler garage express the community's importance as a local commercial center for the distribution of goods and services relating with river transportation. Industrial resources are represented by the Y.A. Young Machine Shop, the Excelsior Pottery, and company houses once owned by the H.C. Frick Coke Company during the bituminous coal era. Monongahela River Lock #6, two brick lock keeper's houses from the 1930s, and concrete structures from the railroad period symbolize the significance of transportation to the development of Rice's Landing. Structures include the remains of Lock #6, a concrete bridge from 1914, a 1913 railroad bridge, and a 1913 railroad tunnel.
As the community expanded in response to new industrial and transportation facilities, upland farms to the southeast of the district were subdivided and lots along Carmichaels and Bayard Streets infilled with Colonial Revival and Craftsman houses. Archaeological remains of the Dilworth Mine Complex, the company housing on Red Row, the Hughes Grist Mill and the Union Supply Store are industrial resources that have been documented by pedestrian reconnaissance.
The community park along Pumpkin Run contains the earliest building and site in the Rice's Landing Historic District. Access through an arched railroad viaduct provides a dramatic entry from the town to the wooded nature park and meandering Pumpkin Run. The one-story red brick jail with cast iron window bars dates from ca.1850 and is situated on a terrace above Pumpkin Run. Upstream are the archaeological remains of a nineteenth-century grist mill that was once owned by John Hughes. The ashlar mill foundation with brick chimney is still extant as are segments of the head and tail races along the creek.
The earliest residential structures in the Rice's Landing Historic District are folk forms including two hall-and-parlor, two gable-front, and four gable-side houses with balloon frame structural systems covered with clapboards. Inspired by the Italianate, Eastlake, and Queen Anne styles during the period between 1870 and 1910, seven houses in the district have porches embellished with roof brackets, jig-saw trim, turned balustrades, and decorative spandrels. The United Methodist Church, later the Methodist Episcopal Church, was built in 1873 and is now covered with aluminum siding and is situated on Main Street.
The vernacular Victorian building has stained glass windows and a small tower. Behind the church and facing the river is the two-story, rectory constructed of clapboard and covered with a gable roof. The John Hughes House on River Street and the houses at 107 and 109 Carmichaels Street overlook the river and are excellent examples of Folk Victorian dwellings with elaborate porch decoration. Late Victorian window surrounds, such as those on the W. A. Young House, are wood with a simple pediment over double-hung windows. This form is also found on the W. A. Young Machine Shop as well as several houses in the district. Access to heavy wood machinery, planing mills and an abundance of pre-cut sections shipped by river and rail brought Folk Victorian housing to even the most rural areas.
Two significant early industrial resources in Rice's Landing are present in adjacent two-story buildings of clapboard that face the river on Water Street. The W. A. Young Machine Shop remains as an excellent example of a preserved machine shop from the early nineteenth century. The two-story shop has original clapboards painted red and multipaned, double-hung windows and three entrances with wood window surrounds. The unusual addition of the foundry to the existing shop reflects the isolation of Rice's Landing and the absence of local foundries. The Young family retained the machine shop through most of its history thus preserving the structure, machinery and context. Although the adjacent Excelsior Pottery has been converted to a residence, the exterior of the site endures as a preserved example of the significant Monongahela River ceramic industry.
This two-story building has original clapboards painted blue, a stone foundation and gable roof with boxed cornice and returns. The six-bay facade with three entrances and windows embellished with Folk Victorian wood surrounds has an unobstructed river view.
With the introduction of bituminous coal mining, company houses were constructed along Main Street and on upland slopes adjacent to the railroad. "Red Row" extended Main Street to the mining complex. One-and two-story, detached and semi-detached houses of wood, as well as the large company store on Main Street known as the Union Supply Store, were constructed by Frick. Two examples of two-story semi-detached company houses at 128 and 130 Main Street represent this housing form. The archaeological remains of "Red Row" including stone foundations and refuse areas were identified during field inspection.
The Union Supply Store at the corner of Third and Main Street remains as a preserved archaeological site.
The original deep shaft Dilworth Mine with associated structures was situated between the railroad and the river at the northwestern end of Main Street. The brick and concrete fan house is extant and still operates for use by the new Dilworth Mine located east of Rice's Landing. Two one-story red brick buildings with concrete lintels and sills as well as a series of reinforced concrete foundations, including the foundation for the extensive barge-loading facility and power house, are still extant. The original shaft has been infilled and surrounded by a wire fence. Two banks of coke ovens, now completely covered by slate deposits, extend for approximately 500 feet to the northwest of the shaft.
Rice's Landing continued to develop in the early twentieth century in response to the bituminous coal industry and transportation facilities. During this period, the town was a thriving village with several grocery stores, clothing stores, hotels, and other commercial ventures. Representing this period are the Art Deco Rice's Landing National Bank, the Hughes store, and the Nash-Rambler garage, later an Atlantic gas station. The now vacant garage occupies the lot northwest of Pumpkin Run, and is a one-story concrete and wood building with multipaned windows. The Rice's Landing bank now functions as a center for the town's historical society.
Constructed ca.1912, the yellow brick bank with ashlar foundation and flat roof is embellished with green and violet geometric designs. The original hammered aluminum desks, marble floors and walls remain; however, the entrance was altered by the removal of decorated columns and the addition of a new porch. The Hughes store is a two-story, seven-bay commercial building of wood situated on the river front east of Pumpkin Run. The store replaced an earlier commission house and has a one-story front porch that covers opposing entrances.
Located on upland agricultural tracts are two early farmhouses and a wood barn with gambrel roof and stone foundation that was part of a third upland farmstead. The barn has been remodeled to function as a firehouse after the dwelling house was demolished. One of the original farmhouses in Rice's Landing — the Teal House — overlooks the town on a hill above the river. The simple gable-front-and-wing form of the Teal House exhibits gable roofs embellished with cornice returns and decorative roof supports.
Arched four-over-four light double-hung windows have pedimented lintels. This Italianate dwelling, constructed in 1880 on land purchased from J. Randolph Bayard, is covered with original clapboards, painted white. On Bayard Street, a Stick style farmhouse from 1900 also represents the earlier agrarian function of the uplands. This two-and one-half story residence of clapboard has decorative stickwork on the central front gable and porch pediment. The full-width front porch is supported by round columns.
New subdivisions formed between 1905 and 1930 surrounded the older Stick-style dwelling. Lots were infilled with two-story Colonial Revival and Foursquare dwellings as well as one-story Craftsman bungalows of wood. The bungalows were inspired by the Craftsman movement with their front-gabled, low-pitched roofs and full porches supported by tapered square columns. Two-story Colonial Revival and Foursquare dwellings from the same period reflect the emerging new vernacular styles that utilized pre-cut lumber and plans from popular pattern books.
Five contributing structures relate with the transportation system at Rice's Landing. One is a curved concrete wall for the ferry and boat landing at the end of Main Street. Another structure, Monongahela Navigation Lock #6, engineered by Sylvanus Lothrop, included a fixed crest dam constructed on a solid rock foundation with walls raised to fifteen feet in height. The lock was protected by cribs and fenders while floors were constructed of heavy longitudinal timbers covered with spiked planks. The lock was reconstructed in 1914-16 after the navigation system was acquired by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. A new fixed crest dam and two locks, each measuring 56 feet by 360 feet, replaced the original lock. After the construction of the Maxwell Dam in 1964, the lock was abandoned and the river walls were removed. However, the concrete land and middle wall of the 1914-16 lock is still present adjacent to the riverfront park.
Until 1903, Rice's Landing and Newport remained as separate communities divided by the Cumberland and Jefferson Township line but connected by a covered bridge over Pumpkin Run. A later iron bridge was replaced in 1914 with the extant concrete deck bridge. The extension of the railroad from the Third Street freight station east to Crucible altered the original town plan by eliminating buildings on the southwest side of Main Street from Pumpkin Run to First Street. On the east side of Pumpkin Run, the railroad truncated the block of houses at the end of Water Street. Two of the contributing structures in the Rice's Landing Historic District including the 1913 arched concrete railroad bridge over Pumpkin Run, and a railroad tunnel at the end of Water Street, represent the railroad era.
Included in the eleven non-contributing buildings, there are eight metal or wood garages and a wood shed. A concrete block borough building is now situated on a lot once occupied by the Rice's Landing school, which was demolished in the 1970s. A trailer occupies the original Hughes Store lot.
There is a high probability of archaeological resources within the Rice's Landing Historic District's boundaries on Pumpkin Run. In the 1870s, a blacksmith shop was situated on the southern bank of the stream and a warehouse stood on the northern border. The archaeological remains of the mid-nineteenth century brick Monongahela House and associated livery and stable, once owned by Noah Teal and later by John Faddis, are present on the southwest corner of Main and First Streets. The three-story hotel was demolished in 1957, and only the concrete steps remain. Hotel Redd, a second three-story Folk Victorian hotel that was also demolished, stood to the northwest of the Monongahela House.
To the south of Pumpkin Run, the kiln and other refuse features associated with the Excelsior Pottery may still have archaeological integrity. As a result of railroad construction and the increase in the Monongahela River pool level, the planing mill, saw mill, and a row of nineteenth-century houses are no longer present. Features associated with these structures and other commercial buildings on Main Street may still have archaeological integrity. However, pending further archaeological investigation, these remains have not been counted or considered as part of the district's significance.
Minor alterations in the Rice's Landing Historic District have occurred as a result of building demolitions, new siding materials and the construction of small additions. However, the integrity and historic feeling of Rice's Landing endures. The primary contributing components of the Rice's Landing Historic District are the W. A. Young machine shop, the Excelsior pottery, the Dilworth Mining Complex, Monongahela River Lock #6, the Art Deco bank, brick jail, and the sequence of vernacular clapboarded Victorian dwellings. Landscape features along the beautiful gorge of Pumpkin Run and along the Monongahela River enhance the integrity and historical feeling of the district.
The Monongahela River was part of the nation's greatest inland commercial navigation system instrumental in the country's 19th century growth and development. Rice's Landing was a key riverport on the Upper Monongahela River and served as the distribution point for all of northeastern Greene County including Waynesburg and Jefferson.
Even before improvements were made to the Monongahela River's navigation system, a prosperous packet trade operated on the river. Rice's Landing was founded in 1780 when John Rice obtained a Virginia certificate for a 389-acre tract of land southeast of Pumpkin Run, then known as Enoch's Run. In 1786, Rice patented the land; and the town of Newport, later incorporated into Rice's Landing, was laid out. Abijeah McClain and Pamela Doughty et.al. patented the lands to the northwest of the run where the town of Rice's Landing developed in the early 19th century.
By the 1830s, large keelboats docked at Rice's Landing where warehouse space provided storage facilities for such goods as whiskey, salt, and flour. From the town's dock, Daniel Montgomery commanded a flatboat enrolled at the Pittsburgh Customs House in January of 1832. Joseph Sedgewick and his son, Samuel, were prominent traders who operated small steamboats on the Monongahela River when navigation conditions permitted. Sedgewick owned stores and warehouses at Rice's Landing where he was later named Justice of the Peace. This aspect of the community's history is represented by a single extant building, the 1850s red brick jail where prisoners sentenced by the Justice Sedgewick were confined.
Unreliable seasonal navigation on the Monongahela River interfered with steamboat and keelboat travel until the improved canalization of the river by the Monongahela Navigation Company, chartered in 1836. On July 27, 1854, contracts were awarded for the construction of Lock #6 at Rice's Landing and a lock at Greensboro located approximately fifteen miles upriver. The new locks were designed by Sylvanus Lothrop, the famous Pennsylvania Canal engineer and provided access to trade from Fayette and Greene Counties by extending the slackwater.
When the locks were completed in November of 1856, a lock keeper was stationed at Rice's Landing to collect tolls. Before the lock was constructed, numerous coal barges descended the river, but steamboats only occasionally went upriver from Pittsburgh to Rice's Landing. It was nearly half a century from the time the Monongahela Navigation Company was organized that the river was opened to Morgantown.
The first steamboat from West Virginia to Pittsburgh passed through Rice's Landing in 1889.
Three years after the Lock #6 was constructed, Rice's Landing was described as a "thriving settlement" owing "its present prosperity to the slackwater and its facilities as a shipping point. A ferry operated by the Hughes (Hews) family crossed the Monongahela River at the north end of town providing access to Fayette County and Brownsville. Commodities were stored at warehouses owned by local merchants and distributed through commission houses such as the one still standing on the Monongahela River. The Sedgewick and Hughes families were important merchants who owned warehousing facilities and commission houses as well as general stores.
(Also read more at: Rices Landing's Beginnings)
The Rice's Landing Historic District is significant in the areas of transportation, industry, and architecture as a preserved, mid-19th to early-20th century Upper Monongahela River port and early industrial town. The town's evolution as a riverport began in the 1860s with the construction of a foundry, blacksmith shop, boat yard and steam sawmill. Although these resources are no longer extant, the Rice's Landing Historic District contains significant extant buildings from the later 19th century.
Situated along the river front are the Excelsior Pottery (1870-1885), the W. A. Young and Sons Machine Shop (1900-1965), and the Dilworth Mining Complex (1880-1930).
Transportation on the Monongahela River improved in the 20th century when the locks were reconstructed and a new railroad system was introduced through the town. While the integrity of other Upper Monongahela river towns declined due to industrial development, floods, and neglect, this well-preserved, cohesive community dominated by vernacular wood buildings from the Mid-Victorian to Craftsman period provides a sense of historic feeling for the river port era of the mid-to-late 19th century and the railroad/coal era of the early 20th century.
The archaeological remains of the Dilworth Mine site also can provide information about the size, layout and processes of this bituminous mining operation.