Taylorstown Historic District
The Taylorstown Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document.  Adaptation copyright © 2008, The Gombach Group.
Taylorstown is located on the west bank of the north branch of Buffalo Creek in Blaine Township, Washington County, Pennsylvania, and rests in a spoon-like depression between the creek and the surrounding hill. The Taylorstown Historic District covers the built environment of the original village plot (laid out in 1795) with lots situated on both sides of Main Street which runs ESE to WSW from the creek to a dead end at the hill. Primarily residential in character, the village strongly reflects its original roadside orientation and lot pattern. The buildings are streetside structures fronting on Main Street with a small number fronting on First or Second Street. There are two churches, one general store, and two municipal buildings. All buildings are presently occupied and are maintained in good condition. The Taylorstown Historic District comprises 41 Tax Parcels, covering 16.9 acres. There are 45 buildings exclusive of auxiliary buildings, all but 10 are residential, of the 45, 37 are contributing and 8 are intrusions. The buildings are types ranging from covered log structures of early settlement to Federal, Greek Revival and popular, Farm type homes with Italianate or Victorian gingerbread decorations.
The early buildings in the Taylorstown Historic District are clapboard covered log buildings two stories high with frame additions. There are several early brick buildings in the Federal or Farm style. The best remaining example of Federal style being the Dickey House.
There are many frame-construction Farm style, vernacular buildings with Italianate or Victorian gingerbread which were erected in the 1880-1900 period during the expansion brought on by the oil discoveries and the development of the Taylorstown oil field.
Alterations to contributing buildings are limited to replacement of windows, changes in siding types and additions of extra rooms or porches. Some changes were the result of returning the buildings to residential use after earlier use as a combination business/residence.
Taylorstown is a rural village in western Washington County which retains its original size and scale as set forth in its 1795 town plan, and has a fairly intact architectural fabric made up of buildings from several different architectural periods.
Taylorstown was founded in 1795 when a tract of land, granted to Robert Taylor on March 5, 1788, was sold by him to his son William Taylor. William immediately engaged surveyor David Heaton to lay out a town plot containing 66 lots each measuring 60' x 264'. The town was originally named New Brunswick; however, because the proprietor was William Taylor, the people called the settlement Taylorstown. In 1807 the name New Brunswick was dropped and the name Taylorstown officially adopted. Taylorstown is one of about ten town plans laid out in Washington County before 1800. Of these, it is the only one which has never outgrown its original plan, and which retains its distinctive nineteenth century rural village architecture.
Taylorstown has served since its inception as the main point of supply for the middle portion of the Buffalo Creek watershed (through which the streams of the central section of western Washington County - between Rt. 844 and Rt. 70 - flow westward into the Ohio River). It was the central village of Buffalo Township until the land northwest of Taylorstown (including Taylorstown) broke away as Blaine Township in November 1894. Throughout most of its early history, the town was clustered around several small industries and businesses. These included a general store, a dry goods store, a church, a hatter's shop, a tavern/hotel (destroyed by fire in late 1800's), a blacksmith shop and livery, a water-powered grain mill on Buffalo Creek, a small planing-mill, and the Wilson Chair Shop (a tiny woodworking shop moved recently to Meadowcroft Village, an open air museum in northwestern Washington County). The Taylorstown Post Office was established on June 1, 1831, and continues today to operate from the rear of the General Store. The construction of the National Pike about a mile south of Taylorstown in the early decades of the nineteenth century helped to stabilize the business interests of the tiny town without changing the remote and distinct town plan. In the 1880's, the name Taylorstown became synonymous with the discovery of oil in western Washington County. The first well, McManus No. 1, was struck in July 1885 about a half mile north of the village and produced about 51 barrels a day. This also boosted and stabilized the town, again without radically changing its character. Oil remains a minor industry for the area around Taylorstown today.
Taylorstown grew up gradually, within the bounds of the original plan, incorporating several different periods of vernacular architecture into its architectural fabric. West Liberty Road, a minor route roughly parallel to the National Pike, became known as Main Street. Nearly all of the town's buildings face this one street. The oldest buildings of the town are log structures subsequently covered with wood siding. There are also a few brick structures in a vernacular rendition of the Federal style. These early structures served as both home and shop for the town's first businessmen. The town contains none of the "high style'' structures from the Victorian period, which are common in other Washington County towns. But the houses from the 1880's, essentially late versions of the three bay farmhouse theme, embellished with Italianate and Queen Anne details, testify to the brief period of excitement and prosperity that followed the discovery of oil. There are also a few small, very plain workers' cottages at the edges of the Taylorstown Historic District (in the backyards of the Main Street houses) which were built during this period. Since the turn of the century, Taylorstown has not changed significantly in size or scale. Although most of the tiny businesses have closed, and some of the architecture has been changed, or watered down by the erection of a few minor intrusions, Taylorstown still reflects its nineteenth century rural village character.
Today, the rural portions of Washington County (especially the western half of the County) are served by ten or twenty villages and small towns. Most of these originated in the nineteenth century, or as in the case of Taylorstown, in the last decade of the eighteenth century. Although most of these towns have not taken on a twentieth century character, only a few have escaped the subtle architectural changes of twentieth century maintenance and "home improvement." Most of Washington County's intact nineteenth century towns are located along major routes to which the towns have conformed, even when the town predates the route. Taylorstown is the exception in Washington County, as a town which remains remote and intact, within the confines of its late eighteenth century plan, in spite of the various outside forces that have helped it to survive.
Crumrine, Boyd. History of Washington County with Biographical Sketches printed by L. H. Everst & Co., Philadelphia 1882.
McFarland, Joseph F. 20th Century History of Washington and Washington County, PA printed by Richmond Arnold Publishing Co., Chicago 1910.
Caldwell, J. A. Caldwells Illustrated Historical Centennial Atlas of Washington County, PA: the Author, Engraved, printed by Otto Krebs, Pittsburgh, PA 1876.
Commemoration Biographical Record Washington County, PA Printed by J. H. Beers & Co., Chicago 1893.
Buffalo Township 1776-1976 Historic Buffalo Committee Washington County, PA 1976.
Weekly Recorder, Claysville, PA 15323 Issues of March 8, 1978, page 16 and March 13, 1978 page 13. Taylorstown is scene of wealth and romance 1888.
McGuffy Recorder, Claysville, PA 15323 issue of November 15, 1976, Front page story on Taylorstown Post Office.