Canonsburg's Historical Markers

Click on photographs to enlarge.

The historical markers sprinkled around Canonsburg are the result of a project conceived by former borough council president Joseph Gowern, implemented by the Greater Canonsburg Heritage Society, and the markers were put in place by Joe Gowern and his right-hand man, John Wilson. The aluminum signs were produced at a state correctional facility.

Left. Joe Gowern holds the proof version of the first marker. Right. Joe Gowern installing the corrected Morgan Building sign, June 26, 2003.

Left. Installing the Jefferson College marker. From left, Joseph Gowern, Harry Harvison, Mayor Anthony Colaizzo, John Wilson, and Robert Maceiko. The December 3, 2003 photograph complemented an article in the Washington (PA) Observer-Reporter.

Right. The logo on the markers was derived from a pen drawing in the borough council minute book. It was done by W. J. Gowern, Joe Gowern's grandfather, as a heading for the 1888 tax list. The drawing was refined by Canonsburg artist Jim Sulkowski to the form seen right, top.

The text of the historical markers, with additional notes, is flanked on the left by a present day photograph of the site and an early depiction, generally the oldest known, on the right.

John Canon's Mill. The Law and Finance Building is now on the site.

A water powered grist and saw mill was erected here about 1780 by John Canon. He was county sub-lieutenant of militia during the Revolution and served in the state assembly. The wooden building was demolished in 1942 after the milling company stopped making flour.

Photograph from Canonsburg Centennial Album, 1903.

Briceland's Tavern, now the Colaizzo Building.

Originally part of John Canon's mill property, a large stone building stood here for more than a century. During the college and Civil War years it was a popular meeting place and the site of many banquets. It was razed in 1903 to build the Citizens Trust Building.

Photograph from Canonsburg 1902 Centennial Book.

Morgan Building

Erected in 1890 by J. C. Morgan for his dry goods store, the building had an opera house on its second floor from 1891 until August 26, 1911, when someone shouted "Fire" and 26 people died on the stairway as a result of panic.

Martin Estep photograph, right, taken about 1905. A poster for the opera house is at the left edge of the picture.

Emery's Tavern, now the site of Citizens Bank.

A tavern building was erected here about 1820 when the Washington-Pittsburgh Turnpike was constructed through town. Joshua Emery was the original proprietor. John Irons owned the inn, Canonsburg's stage coach stop, in college days.

1923 photograph by Force C. Dunlevy.

Watson's Corner, now PNC Bank

John Watson, a prominent early citizen, had a home and blacksmith shop at this corner for nearly 40 years. In 1880 the log house on the corner was razed and the present building erected to house a drug store. It was remodeled in 1903 by the First National Bank.

 Photograph, right, from Canonsburg 1902 Centennial Book.

Black Horse Tavern, now the site of the American Legion Building.

From this site in 1794, a call to the militia was sent out by whiskey rebels as a gesture of defiance toward the federal government. The tavern building was torn down in 1910, and the present structure was built in 1929. The post office was here from 1929 to 1937.

 Force C. Dunlevy photo, 1894

Canonsburg Armory, College Street entrance.

Erected in 1938 for Hospital Co. 108, 103rd Medical Regiment, mustered into the Pennsylvania National Guard in 1925. It is now home of Co. C, 1, 110th Regiment, 28th Division. The lot had been the site of the President's House, erected by Jefferson College about 1842.

 Daily Notes photo of Central Avenue side, 1938

Moretti Veterans' Statue

The bronze statue of a World War I soldier, sculpted by Giuseppe Moretti, was dedicated in 1924 to all who served their country; those who returned and those who did not. Since then, many more men and women have been added to the roll of honor.

Right, unveiling the statue, 1924, photographer unknown Solobay collection.

Jefferson College Campus, now the Canonsburg Middle School.

The college moved to this site, originally John Canon's home, in 1817. Jefferson and Washington Colleges merged in 1865 to form W&J, which in 1869 united on the Washington campus. Jefferson Academy and Canonsburg High School also were located here.

Cowey photograph, late 1860s

John McMillan's Log School

This log structure was a frontier Latin school in the 1780s, located about a mile south of Canonsburg. It was moved to what had been the Jefferson College campus in 1895 as a symbol of Canonsburg's educational tradition.

 Herron photograph c1960 with Providence Hall (Chapel Gym) behind it.

Fort Armstrong, now a garage for antique cars.

On this lot in 1848 stood a large frame student residence where, in 1848, the Fraternity of Phi Gamma Delta was founded. College rooming and boarding establishments were "Forts" in the jargon of the Jefferson students.

 Photograph taken about 1900.

Roberts House. The building has been vacant for several years.

John Watson, Jefferson College's first president died in a log house on this lot in 1802. John Roberts ran a store here, and this house was the home of William Smith, Professor of Greek. The house was built in sections over many years.

The photograph at right was taken by Force Dunlevy in 1894.

Stone College Building, now a school parking lot.

In 1791 John Canon donated this lot to Canonsburg Academy, which in 1802 was chartered as Jefferson College. The original stone college building was bought by the borough in 1843 and demolished to build a town hall.

 The North Central School occupied the lot for many years. Photograph c1965 Joseph A Solobay.

Letherman Home, now a small apartment building.

In 1852 Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity was founded in the attic of the house that stood here, where founder William Letterman (the spelling he used) lived with his widowed mother. His brother, Jonathan, devised the MASH concept during the Civil War.

Photograph appears in an 1895 book by T. Maxwell Potts, who lived in the home.

Budke House, now the Methodist parsonage.

This home was built in 1895 by Canonsburg industrialist John Budke, 1852-1914. Budke became the manager, later the owner, of Canonsburg's first major industry, Canonsburg Iron and Steel Company, commonly known as the Budke Mill.

The photograph, right, appeared in the Daily Notes of April 18, 1899.