Log Courthouse History, Greene County Government, Pennsylvania

Court of Common Pleas

Greene County Courthouse

10 East High Street
Waynesburg, PA 15370
Click on Courthouse
for Map and Directions

photo courtesty of Darrell Watson from Claysville in the Observer-Reporter
Greene County Courthouse Cupola
Photo courtesy of Darrell Watson,
Claysville, PA

Greene County Courthouse front steps
Front steps of Greene County Courthouse

Greene County Courthouse
Front view of today's Greene County Courthouse

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Greene County Courthouse — past and present
Department of Law and Order for Greene County Government, Pennsylvania

Contact Person for questions: JoAnne Marshall, Communications Director/Tourism

Greene County Office Building
93 East High Street, Waynesburg, PA 15370
Phone: 724-627-8687
Office Hours: 8:30 a.m.—4:30 p.m., Monday—Friday

First Greene County Courthouse — A log structure built by George Graham and George Ullom for Sheriff James Hook in 1797, a year after Greene County was created in 1796. It was used as the county's seat of government until about 1800 when a brick courthouse was built on High Street. It is believed to be the oldest log courthouse on it's original lot in Pennsylvania and possibly in the whole country.

Log Courthouse:
A log structure built by George Graham and George Ullom for Sheriff James Hook in 1797, a year after Greene County was created in 1796. It was used as the county's seat of government until about 1800 when a brick courthouse was built on High Street. It is believed to be the oldest log courthouse on it's original lot in Pennsylvania and possibly in the whole country.

Still standing at 144 East Greene Street, the original log courthouse now houses the Cornerstone Genealogical Society... and contains local history and genealogy for Greene County. The Cornerstone Genealogical Society is a non-profit unincorporated organization dedicated to preserving the genealogical history of Greene County, Pennsylvania. The society was formed in 1975 to assist individuals to learn more about their ancestors who, at one time or another, may have resided in or around Greene County.

The historical and genealogical significance of Greene County has long been recognized by persons interested in family history and the migration patterns of the early settlers of this nation. The society library holdings have a rapidly expanding library of genealogical and historical material pertinent to Greene County. Our collection also includes generalized genealogy works, books relating to other States and Pennsylvania Counties, and the Mayflower Collection. Our current holdings include approximately 6,000 books, 400 rolls of microfilm of early newspapers, census and land records, vertical surname files, scrapbooks, wills, and many periodicals. Access to Ancestry Library Edition. The society library has an unsurpassed source of information for those searching for genealogical information in southwestern Pennsylvania. No research materials may be removed from our library, but they are all available for research in our library.
Site of Log Courthouse

Cornerstone Genealogical
Society Building

144 E. Greene Street
Waynesburg, PA 15370

Click here
for Map and Directions

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Click here to learn more about the Cornerstone Genealogical Society or call 724-627-5653 for library hours and additional information.

A New House for the Greene County Court:
Greene County CourthouseThe present courthouse was built in 1850 after the November 1849, and February 1850, grand juries had recommended the same to the county commissioners. The foremen of those grand juries being Simon Fuller and William Gilespie respectively. The old courthouse was removed by George Zimmerman in the winter of 1849-50. The cornerstone of the new courthouse was laid by the Free Masons of the County on June 24, 1850.

In 1920-1921, there were two improvements made at the courthouse, a brick addition made two new rooms available, one on the first floor as a private office for the sheriff, and one on the second floor for the county engineer. Secondly, a new men's bathroom was constructed in the basement of the courthouse.

As the twenty-first century approached, it was evident that the court facilities must be expanded significantly to accommodate efficiency of service to the public, record preservation, accessibility, and facilities for a second judge. In 1997 a project costing approximately $4 million was undertaken to raze the old jail and a portion of the old sheriff’s residence annexed to the courthouse of the purpose of housing an elevator, public restrooms, a second courtroom, judge’s chambers, law library, and other necessary facilities and offices. The project also included renovation to the original courthouse with an attempt to maintain the historical integrity of that building to the extent possible while complying with current regulations. Following approximately 15 months of temporarily being housed in the former Fort Jackson Hotel Building, the courts and the related offices moved into the new and renovated facilities. The formal dedication took place on October 28, 1988 with the Honorable Thomas Ridge, Governor of Pennsylvania, providing the keynote address. (before and after pictures courtesty of Tom Headlee). Click here to read more about "The New House for the Court".

As the 21st century approached, one of the biggest progress stories of the year (10/28/1998) was the completed renovations of the Greene County Courthouse. On Wednesday, October 28, 1998, numerous local dignitaries and officials joined state officials, including Senator J. Barry Stout, Rep. H . William DeWeese, and the Honorable Governor Tom Ridge, in celebrating the official rededication of the county courthouse.

The courthouse was re-dedicated following a 14-month, $4.1 million renovation project that began in September 1997. The total cost of the project was estimated to be around $4.1 million, and was funded using part of the county’s 1997 refinanced $6,935,000 bond issue. Renovations to the courthouse included a new courtroom, a new roof and a 4th floor on the Church Street side of the building, two new elevators, a new wall around the courthouse grounds, and a police and handicapped entrance from Church Street.

August 2007 the courthouse installed metal-detector and x-ray machine were installed at the building's Church Street entrance. The county received a grant from the Pennsylvania State Commissione on Crime & Delinquancy to pay for the new equipment, which also include several panic buttons installed in various offices throughout the courthouse. It was probable that added security measures would eventually be mandated at Governmental facilities, so the grant money allowed this to happen. Click here for additional history on courthouse repairs & upgrades.

May 2013, with the recommendation from an architectural firm who determined that the state of the Gen. Nathaneal Greene status sitting atop the county courthouse, should be removed because of its deteriorating condition which has become a safety hazard. Thus the county commissioners declared an emergency situation existed relative to the condition of the Gen. Nathanael Greene statue. The 10-foot statue, carved out of Greene County poplar has been standing tall on the roof of the courthouse for the past 15 years (since 2003). The statue of General Greene for whom the county was named has stood on the county courthouse since November 17, 1927 and remained there until it was first removed for repairs in 1997. Once repairs were completed a year later in September 1998, the statue now determined to be a safety hazard, was placed on top of the dome once again. With the removal of the number 3 statue in July 2013, a lighter-weight structural fiberglass replica and lightning protection be installed with the replacement statue (no. 4). Click here for more information about the General Greene history.

Site of Greene County's First Court — 1797:

The monumental rock and marker are located east of Waynesburg on Rt 21.

Greene County became a separate Judicial District, known as the 13th, in 1895 and newly elected judge R.L. Crawford took office in January 1896.

Images courtesy of GreeneSaver.
Click images to enlarge photos

A Brief History of Greene County and its Court System:
"A Struggle for Possession" ... Long before King Charles II granted William Penn the colony of Pennsylvania on March 4, 1681, the Native Americans had their own claim of title and councils of government upon this land. Indian Sachem of the Six Nations ruled the lands, including Greene County, made the laws, chose the trails, settled their disputes, and determined the battle sites. Click here to read more on the Struggle for Possession.

"The First Court" ... Greene County was a part of the Fifth Judicial District of the Commonwealth and the President Judge was Alexander Addison of Pittsburgh who continued to hold court here, with the help of associate justices. Click here to read more on the first court.

"The Creation of a County" ... After the long struggle of nations and states for her territory, and the gruelling exposure of the people to the savagery of the Indians and the elements of nature, all of which fostered an intense spirit of local unity among the citizenry, Greene County was created by Act of the General Assembly of the Commonwelath of Pennsylvania on February 9, 1796. It contained 577 square miles in area and was named for General Nathanael Greene, of the General Washington's most distinguished and revered Revolutionary War aides. The county took its place with understandable pride among the constellation of counties in the Commonwealth. Click here to read more on the Creation of a County.

For general information, please contact the Information Services
at 724-852-5399 / Toll Free: 1-888-852-5399
Greene County Office Building, 93 E. High Street, Waynesburg, PA 15370

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