Much more than an attractive building, the historic Samuel Brownlee House has a fascinating story. The Brownlee family emigrated from Scotland to Washington County in the 1780s. Samuel T. Brownlee was born on the family farm in 1827. At only 21 years of age, he commissioned the construction of the two-and one-half story, five-bay, brick house on the farm in 1848 as a wedding gift to his wife, Catherine H. Clark. It is believed that Mr. Brownlee utilized the plans for the Reed House (now called the Davis Memorial building on Washington & Jefferson's campus) which was built in the 1820s on East Maiden Street in Washington.
An addition to the Brownlee House was built in 1967, when it was owned by Charles M. Miller. It was Mr. Miller who took the necessary action in 1972 to have the original section of the House placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Mr. Miller sold the house to William and Saundra Stout in 1986, and it served as the headquarters for the Atlas Railroad Construction Company owned by Mr. Stout, until he retired in 2010. The Stouts generously donated the property to the Washington County Community Foundation in December 2013.
About the Structure
The following descriptions were taken from the Brownlee House's National Register of Historic Places Inventory application that was prepared in 1976. The lead preparer, James D. Van Trump, was one of the most influential and notable architectural historians in the Pittsburgh region and a co-founder of the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation.
"The Samuel T. Brownlee House is a two and one-half story, five bay, brick house done in a late Georgian house form. The brick walls are laid in common bond. Twin gable chimneys are located at each gable end. The gable ends contain two centrally located windows on each floor. These windows are six over six lights with post and lintel frames. The main facade features two full story windows on each side of the centrally located doorway. The central hall entranceway is beautifully articulated with thin sidelights, a transom, fluted pilaster jambs and a heavy architrave.
The verandah is done in Greek Revival style. The intercolumniation of the six Ionic columns is perfectly aligned to the fenestration of the house. The delicately proportioned architrave, frieze and dentiled cornice articulate the full entablature. In this case, the carpenter revealed his mastery of scaling the verandah to the size of the house. The rear facade features a simple shed roof porch with Doric columns.
The interior contains a large central hall with two rooms on each side. A beautifully executed cherry staircase rises to the third floor from the central stairway. The house is in excellent condition and contains most of its original appointments."
"The house is an excellent example of the blending of two architectural styles. A dentiled cornice and Ionic verandah constitute the Greek Revival motifs on a formal Georgian house plan. The columns, entablature, and cornice are delicately articulated by the filets and dentils. The verandah is exceptionally well-proportioned and scaled to the size of the house. The Greek Revival and Georgian styles maintain their individuality. Their harmony gives the Brownlee House the stately, dignified qualities common to larger houses. The Brownlee House is one of the best preserved and well maintained formal Georgian-Greek Revival Houses in Washington County."
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