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Mark It With an L

April 17, 2024 | By Marissa Mark

Charity: Washington County History & Landmarks Foundation
HL L Plaque
The “L” plaque is displayed around the entryways of designated landmarks.

“L” is for Landmark.

Throughout Washington County, this signature “L” of the Washington County History & Landmarks Foundation celebrates our history, culture, and architecture while amplifying awareness of local preservation.

Hundreds of wooden and metal “L” plaques adorn privately and publicly owned structures. We pass them every day - knowingly and unknowingly. These landmarks - inducers of curiosity - preserve stories, secrets, and family legacies. They call attention to the growth of our community and illustrate how local architecture evolved.

Let’s take a journey to discover a few of our community treasures signified by the “L”.

In Canonsburg, the 1780s one-room McMillan log school is believed to be one of the oldest structures in Western Pennsylvania. At the forefront of early education, Rev. John McMillan used his horse stable as a classroom to teach Presbyterian ministry prospects mathematics, Greek, and Latin.

Mc Millan Log School 2
The McMillan Log School is located on the grounds of the former Jefferson College and Canonsburg Academy. Originally, the log school was a part of McMillan’s farm until it was moved to Canonsburg in 1895.

In Fredericktown, the c.1830 Regester log house stands on a rubble stone foundation that originally supported an L-shaped layout. Formed by seamlessly connecting an 1880s addition, this house displays the dedication and skill needed to craft such structures by hand, especially as it’s uncommon to see two log houses attached.

As time passed, log structures dwindled as the late 18th and early 19th centuries brought more diverse styles and materials - such as stone, brick, and frame - to Washington County architecture.

This trend is captured in Cecil Township at the Alexander McConnell homestead, where the exterior of the 1805 farmhouse is constructed in dressed stone. Farming was the primary occupation of many during this time, including the McConnell brothers Alexander and Matthew who were early residents of Washington County. Alexander, like other farmers upset by a national tax on whiskey, participated in the Whiskey Rebellion.

East Wash Victorian 1
The James E. Duncan House (also called the Duncan-Miller Glass House) stands prominently on the campus of Washington & Jefferson College as the President’s House. This lavish example of the Queen Anne style displays the dedication needed to preserve its beauty.

As wealth and personality influenced style, more architectural diversity appeared through Greek Revival and Victorian styles. Between the 1830s and 1860s, Greek Revival was immensely favored throughout Washington County. This style was incorporated into familiar structures – such as two-story, center hall houses – by including architectural ornaments and Greek columns.

In Amwell Township, the historic Moses Little Tavern displays elements of Greek Revival through its brick pilasters and a tripartite window above the style-appropriate doorway. This structure still welcomes guests as the Gathering Place & Tea House.

In East Washington, the Victorian style is abundant through numerous homes constructed from 1880 to 1890, many of which have the “L” plaque. This concentration of Victorian homes, 116 to be exact, influenced the movement to designate East Washington as a National Register Historic District. Besides private residences, the Greek Revival and Victorian styles can be seen at the Windy Gap Presbyterian Church of West Finley Township and the Archer Schoolhouse of Morris Township.

From stone and log buildings to farmhouses and barns, the Washington County History & Landmarks Foundation has presented “L” plaques for over 200 structures. Every one of these structures has a story to tell. As you travel through Washington County, look for the “L” and take time to listen to their stories.


Washington County History & Landmarks Foundation. 1975. Preserving Our Past: Landmark Architecture of Washington County, Pennsylvania. Marceline, Missouri: Walsworth Publishing Co.

Beers, J.H. and Co. 1893. Commemorative Biographical Record of Washington County, Pennsylvania. Chicago: J.H. Beers & Co.

Crumrine, Boyd. 1882. History of Washington County, Pennsylvania with Biographical Sketches of Many of Its Pioneers and Prominent Men. Philadelphia: L. H. Everts & Company.

Nestor, Gina. 2019. “Dr. John McMillan – Minister and Educator.” Jefferson College Times 51, no. 2 (October): 3-13.

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