Home | Whats New | Site Index | Search

Samuel Warden House

Mount Pleasant Boro, Westmoreland County, PA


The Samuel Warden House in Mount Pleasant Borough, Westmoreland County is located in a residential area on the southwest corner of Church and Walnut Streets four blocks south of the central business district of Mount Pleasant. This area of Mount Pleasant is a mixture of mid to late nineteenth century brick and frame houses. The three-story stretcher bond brick Warden House has a nearly square floor plan with a mansard roof. This circa 1886 house is a combination of Late Victorian styles incorporating a Queen Anne window, Eastlake exterior trim and woodwork into a Second Empire form. Surrounding the level lot measuring 122 feet by 163 feet is an original wrought iron fence. This well- preserved property includes a contributing wood frame summer kitchen and a contributing wood frame carriage house.

The mansard roof of the Warden House is clad in octagonal, fish scale, and rectangular slates. Each elevation of the roof has dormers. The roof of each dormer is supported by wood brackets. All the dormers are emphasized by the placement of two elaborately-carved brackets to flank the window. The south and east elevations have two gabled dormers. The clipped dormer on the north elevation is plain and has no overhangs. In addition to the clipped dormer, the north elevation has a clipped gable with a pyramidal roof on top, and one gabled dormer. The west elevation has only one dormer. The eaves of the house have a carved wood cornice with decorative wood brackets grouped in twos and threes. This wood work is Eastlake in style. Four brick chimneys pierce the roof. The edge of the roof has a box cornice/gutter.

The windows on all the elevations have similar sandstone lintels patterned to resemble drip moldings. The original windows in the house were two-over-two double-hung wood sash. Most of these were replaced with one-over-one double-hung sash windows. Some of the windows have aluminum storm windows over them. The third floor gabled dormers have one-over-one double-hung replacement sash windows. The house sits on a raised foundation of stone. The foundation has a belt course and openings that correspond to the openings on the first floor of the house.

Oriented to the east, the Warden House facade has a center projecting bay containing the front door. Around the double front doors is decorative wood trim, a glazed transom, and carved wood reveals. Each of the double doors has two sections. The upper section of the door has etched glass. The lower section of each has a square wood panel which is raised and has corner blocks with rosettes. Flanking the center projecting bay on both levels are two one-over-one double sash windows. In 1960 a small cast iron balcony supported by carved wood consoles was added to the window opening above the front door. Also in 1960, a two-story three-bay portico was built to replace the original deteriorating one- story porch which ran the length of the house. The new porch has tapered square wooden columns and a cornice that replicates the one on the 1886 house. This porch, while radically different than the original porch, does not destroy the integrity of the house and could easily be removed. Most of the posts and details of the original porch are stored in the carriage house. The original porch design included wood posts, balusters, and cast iron roof cresting.

The south elevation of the house has three-bays across the first and second floors. One of the first floor openings is an entrance to the kitchen. This door is surrounded by a one- story, one-bay wood porch with wood columns identical to the ones on the original front porch. The porch's cornice matches the cornice of the house. The tops of the columns are made to look like carved brackets. One side of the porch has been enclosed as a windbreak with a shed enclosure. The porch sits on a brick foundation.

The rear or west elevation of the Warden House has three asymmetrically placed bays. To the north is a circa 1960 porch with iron railings and posts. A set of modern French doors open from the dining room to this porch. Directly above these doors is a window at the second floor. To the south of the doors are three double sash windows, one at each of the three levels to light the servant stairway. To the south are two windows placed directly above one another.

The three-bay north or Walnut Street elevation has a clipped gable section extending about a foot beyond the rest of the house. The gable end has a wood cornice with carvings supported by two wood brackets at the top and paired wood brackets at the bottom. In the gable end is a one-over-one double hung window. East of the gable end of the roof are two dormers. Below on the second floor is a center bay with a very long Queen Anne colored glass window lighting the landing of the interior stairway. This window has red and blue lights with some etching. Flanking the Queen Anne window is a double-hung window to the east and a set of narrow two-over-two double hung windows with a shed roof supported by carved wood consoles to the west. Under the Queen Anne window there is a paneled door from the main hall. This served as the original carriage entrance to the house. Above the door is a an original shed roof on carved wood brackets. West of the door is a bay window with three double-hung sash windows. The roof of the bay window is covered with a standing seam metal roof and iron cresting. The cornice of the bay is highly decorative with carved wood details and carved brackets. Below the windows of the bay are inset rectangular brick panels. To the east of the door is a double-hung sash window.

The first and second floors of the Warden House are planned around L-shaped central halls. The main entrance to the Warden House is from Church Street where double doors open into a vestibule with original walnut wainscoting below and modern wood panelling above. A second set of double doors with etched glass lights opens into the central hall. One of the etched glass lights was replaced with frosted glass. Flanking the central hall are parlors to the north and south. The rear portion of the hall contains a stair and access to a dining room measuring 18 feet by 18 feet, half bath, servant's stair, and kitchen as well the door historically used as the carriage entrance.

Interior details include walnut trim and deep, molded plaster cornices. Most floors are oak parquet. Door and window frames have deep molded wood trim and corner blocks with rosettes. The doors each have five raised panels, two long vertical rectangular panels above separated by a horizontal rectangular panel at the middle and two square panels across below. The doors also have brass knobs and elaborate hinges. Ceiling height on the first floor is twelve feet. The current owners of the house, the DAR, have made no major changes to the house other than converting one of the upstairs bedrooms to a library for research. The downstairs rooms still function as parlors, dining room, and kitchen. The remaining upstairs rooms have many pieces of original Warden furniture. These rooms are used for special events such as the Christmas house tour.

The first floor hallway is papered in a bold, late-nineteenth-century inspired flowered wallpaper hung circa 1930. The main stair is at the north end of the hall under an archway supported by molded consoles. A glass chandelier is suspended from the ceiling and lights the back portion of the hall. At the north end of the hall, is a set of double doors with four raised panels each. The doors open to Walnut Street, serving as the aforementioned carriage entrance. The open string stair rises in a single flight of seventeen steps to a landing lighted by the large Queen Anne style window and continues in a second, shorter flight to the second floor hall. The walnut stair has a molded wood handrail that begins at a square newel post which is turned forty-five degrees in plan. The post is carved and has an elaborate round newel cap. Concealed beneath the main stair is a small modern half bath accessible by a door on the underside of the stair.

Tall, paired paneled doors open into the 15 foot by 15 foot north parlor, which contains an original late-nineteenth-century baroque mantelpiece of white marble flanked by modern bookshelves to the south and a door to the rear hall on the north. A simple cornice extends around the room. Circa 1960 wooden valances cap the windows. Across the hall, the original walnut double doors of the 15 foot by 19 foot south parlor have been removed and are stored in the carriage house. The original mantel has been replaced with one from the early twentieth century. There are no bookshelves in this room, but other appointments are the same as the north parlor.

On the west wall of the rear hall are two doors. One door opens to the dining room, and the other door opens to a closet. The 18 foot by 18 foot dining room has a very deep cornice, a picture rail, and a chair rail. At the north end of the room is a bay window with circa 1960 wood valances. In the center of the floor of the room is a bell for the person at the head of the table to summons servants. The mantel in the dining room is the same as the neo-colonial one in the south parlor. A modern set of French doors lead from the east side of the room to the rear yard. On the south side of the room is a built-in china closet. It fills in a former passageway to the kitchen. Also on the south wall of the dining room is a paneled walnut door that leads into the small hall which contains the servant stair to the second and third floors. The servant stair has a railing which is similar in style to the one in the main hall with a square newel post, but of much simpler design. To the south of the back stairs is a door leading into the kitchen, and to the east of the back stairs is a door to the main hall.

The 17 foot by 15 foot kitchen has painted walls lined with some original built-in cabinets and some modern wall-hung cabinets. The built-in cabinets are wood and have raised paneled double doors above and drawers below. On the south wall is a wood paneled door with molded surround.

On the second floor, as on the first, the rooms are planned around an L-shaped central hall. At the top of the stairs is an arch supported by molded consoles. All the doors on this floor have five raised panels, glazed transoms, and corner blocks with rosettes. All windows also have corner blocks with rosettes. The three bedrooms and the current library on this level are papered and have a simple narrow cornices and baseboards. On the east end of the hall, directly above the front door is a 7 foot by 11 foot wardrobe room filled with walnut cabinets and some freestanding wardrobes. To the north and the south of this room are bedrooms with simple painted slate mantelpieces and closets on the same wall as the fireplaces. A door on the west side of the 19 foot by 15 foot south bedroom leads into a modern bath. At the west end of the second floor hall are two more doorways. One opens into an 18 foot by 18 foot bedroom that has a hand-cut flower border extending all the way around the room. In all other respects, this room has the same details as the other bedrooms. The other door in the hall leads to the servant's hallway with stairs. On the south end of this small hall is a door into a 9 foot by 15 foot room that is currently used as a library by the present owners. The room has original paneled interior shutters on the windows.

The narrow servant stairway, which is lit by several windows, is the only access to the third floor. The third floor has a central hall and four main rooms. The hall has varnished wallpaper on the walls and ceiling. The doors all have glazed transoms and simple trim. Two of the four rooms have painted plaster while the other two are papered and have fireplaces with simple mantels. Baseboards on this level are very deep. All the dormer windows have original raised paneled shutters. A portion of one room was converted into a modern bath. Located between the two bedrooms on the north side of the hall is a storage room filled with built-in wood and free standing closets and wardrobes similar to the wardrobe room on the second floor.

A raised paneled door on the north wall of the kitchen opens to the basement which extends underneath the entire house. The basement has a main hall with several rooms opening from it that house the gas-fired furnace, a gas-fired clothes dryer, and other mechanical systems. The room directly under the kitchen has an opening in the foundation of the chimney said to be the remains of an original cooking fireplace.

The property includes two original outbuildings currently used for storage. Along the alley forty feet south of the house is a contributing one-story gable-roofed wood frame summer kitchen. The building sits on a stone foundation. A porch runs the length of the facade. The roof of the building is clad in standing seam metal. The kitchen has a five-bay facade with original two-over-two double-hung wood sash windows. Inside are two rooms separated by a large brick oven accessible from both sides. The interior has wood floors and simple wood finishes. Little if any changes have been made to the building. Southwest of the house approximately eighty feet is a contributing two-story wood frame carriage house with a gable roof of asphalt shingles. Windows are four-over-four double-hung sash. It also has a stone foundation. The first level is a large undivided space used for carriage storage. On the east wall is a toilet and sink. The second floor was reportedly used by the driver as a living space. It has a modern garage door on the north elevation but otherwise has not been altered. There is no evidence of formal landscaping on this property. The Samuel Warden House together with its outbuildings stands in an excellent state of preservation having undergone only minor changes since its construction in 1886. The most obvious of these changes was the removal of the original one-story front porch and the erection of a two-story portico. The porch, while different in period than the rest of the house, does have the same detailing around its frieze as the house. The interior still retains the look and feel of an elegantly detailed late-nineteenth-century style house.


The Samuel Warden House is an important local example of late nineteenth-century Second Empire style architecture built by a Mount Pleasant businessman/entrepreneur. The Warden House is one of the many high style houses constructed as a result of the wealth the coal and coke industry brought to small communities throughout the Western Pennsylvania. This house is was typical of the houses of its time with elaborate interior detailing including marble fireplaces, servant's quarters, chandeliers, carriage entrances, and servants call boxes. Today, the Warden House is one of the best preserved of the houses surviving from the late nineteenth century in Mount Pleasant.

Mount Pleasant, a town laid out in circa 1797, became a borough in 1828. The early development of the town was the result of agriculture and transportation related activities along the Glades Pike (Route 31). With the completion of the Mount Pleasant and Bradford Railroad in 1871, Mount Pleasant became an important industrial area. A nine foot vein of coal lies under Mount Pleasant, which is part of the Connellsville Coke Region. The stimulus of coal and coke in this area brought Mount Pleasant tremendous industrial growth in the late nineteenth century. Many farmers across the region were selling their land to coal developers and moving to towns to work in factories. It was during this period of industrial development in the 1880s that many large Church Street houses like the Warden House were built in Mount Pleasant. Church Street became an area with numerous late nineteenth century higher style houses. Not only was growth seen in the factories and housing, but in churches and schools as well. Population in Mount Pleasant grew from 4,114 in 1879 to 8,091 in 1882.

The real impetus for industrial development of the area, though, was the introduction in the Pittsburgh area of the Bessemer process in 1859, which required coke as a fuel. Many of the older families in the Mount Pleasant area had begun developing coal mines and small coking complexes on their property, or selling their property to industrial developers who did so. This was later followed by the onset of the Panic of 1873. The Panic allowed some operators, who had retained enough wealth, to buy out their various competitors, and accumulate the assets for larger production. Henry Clay Frick, for instance, started his business career as a clerk in his uncle's store on Main Street in Mount Pleasant. He was able to corner the largest share of the small coking complexes in the region by 1890 and eventually built a multi-million dollar industry around them.

It became clear that the greater Connellsville area, including Mount Pleasant, was not only a major producer of coke, but also that it had some of the best metallurgical coal reserves in the world. A network of small mining and coking complexes developed along rail lines that followed the lines of the Connellsville portion of the Pittsburgh Coal Seam, running northeast to southwest along the western foot of the Chestnut Ridge (the western most ridge of the Alleghenies). The network of mining towns was approximately thirty miles long and only three miles wide, with major centers of capital and commerce at the larger towns evenly distributed along the length of the seam at Uniontown, Connellsville, Scottdale, Mount Pleasant, Greensburg, and Indiana.

The Warden family was one of many local families to assist in the late nineteenth century transition from agriculture and the transportation industry to multiple small-scale coking plants to large scale, capital-intensive industry. They were one of the first families to build a large house on the fringe of the existing, densely-built, linearly-planned town of Mount Pleasant. Essentially they established a larger-than usual Mount Pleasant house on a lot initially large enough for some farming, with proportions and appointments that reflected the growth of wealth and industry that the entire Western Pennsylvania region experienced between 1880 and 1920.

The first member of the Warden family, Samuel, emigrated to the United States from Northern Ireland in 1745, settling in York County. He was one of the pioneer settlers of the Mount Pleasant area, building a cabin on a three hundred acre tract of land in what is now East Huntington Township, Westmoreland County, between 1768 and 1770. The farm is located approximately a mile from Mount Pleasant. He was a founding member of Middle Presbyterian Church, established in the area in 1776. His third son, Paul Warden, was born at the Warden Farm near Mount Pleasant in 1784, and became a farmer. As Paul's enterprises grew, he acquired several farms in North and South Huntington Townships. According to John Jordan's History of Westmoreland County, Warden, in partnership with W. B. Hayes and Thomas Shaw, developed one of the first shafts for mining coal (as opposed to opening a mine by the drift or slope methods) west of the Allegheny Mountains at the edge of Irwin, at what is now the mining village of Shafton.

Samuel Warden, builder of the Church Street House, was the oldest son of Paul and Mary Warden. He was born in August of 1822. Although he started his career in farming, he was one of many locally prominent coal operators in Westmoreland County. In the 1870s Warden developed mine fields and coke ovens at Alverton (Stonerville), near Mount Pleasant. Samuel Warden and Company opened coke works and built twenty company buildings in Alverton to serve the seventy-two coke ovens. The company later became part of the Southwest Coal Company. Warden was also involved with the Morewood Mines and Cokeworks with 470 ovens near Mount Pleasant, United Coal and Coke Works also near Mount Pleasant, and H.C. Frick's Standard and Standard Shaft coal mines and coking works. Standard was for many years the largest of the beehive oven type operations in the world. Evidence of Warden's prominence in Irwin is found in the 1876 Atlas of Westmoreland County which includes a section of Irwin near Shafton called Wardentown, a plan of lots for workers of the Shafton Mine to build houses. Other miscellaneous Warden holdings listed in his ledger books were the Mount Pleasant Brewery and the National Foundry and Pipe Works.

The 1876 Atlas of Westmoreland County indicates that the Warden family owned three large farms in East Huntingdon Township outside of Mount Pleasant. In addition to his involvement with the emerging coal industry and farming, Warden served as burgess of Mount Pleasant between the years of 1889-1890 and was one of the organizers of the First National Bank of Irwin. He later served as a director of First National Bank of Mount Pleasant for nineteen years. Warden was interested in education and was involved in the board of the Western Pennsylvania Classical and Scientific Institute in Mount Pleasant. He served on these boards with prominent contemporaries like Henry Clay Frick, C.S. Overholt, and Reverend Peter Loucks.

Warden also had extensive land holdings in the Borough of Mount Pleasant in addition to the farms in East Huntingdon. The 1867 Atlas of Westmoreland County indicates that Warden owned a house and lot at the south end of Church Street. In 1876 Warden was living in a simple five-bay two-story vernacular frame dwelling with Greek Revival details on the east side of Church Street. Much of the land bounded by Walnut Street, Church Street, and College Street was owned by Samuel Warden and later divided into individual building lots. It was called the Warden Plan. Warden, after much success in business, purchased property on the west side of South Church Street in 1881 from Barbara Tintsman and Peter Sherrick for $1650. Warden built the present brick dwelling at 200 S.Church St. in 1886 when he was in his early sixties. It is across the street and to the north of his previous house. The brick dwelling reflected Warden's prominence in the community and in business. It is a large house with high ceilings, walnut detailing, marble fireplaces, two parlors, a large dining room, a separate servant's stair, pantry, kitchen, summer kitchen, carriage house, and a finished third floor with several servants' rooms. The main hall of the house also has a separate carriage entrance. The dining room of the house had a servant's bell near the center of the floor for the person at the head of the table to ring. Servant bells were located in other rooms all connected to a call box in the kitchen. According to the 1891 Sanborn map of Mount Pleasant the Warden property included a summer kitchen, carriage house and outhouses. These outbuildings were erected with the house circa 1886.

Warden lived in this house until his death in August of 1894. According to Warden's will the house and its contents passed to his wife Margaret. Margaret also received a horse and buggy, two cows, a gold watch, and insurance in the New York Life Insurance Company for twelve thousand dollars. Warden's will gave Margaret a vacant lot on Church Street, a lot on the south side of East Walnut Street, and a lot adjoining the Mount Pleasant reservoir. His five children shared equally in the remainder of his assets including his 165 acre farm in East Huntingdon Township and a 120 acre farm in North Huntingdon Township near Irwin which was gradually sold and divided into lots. He directed his executors to continue to sell lots for a period of ten years. The money from the sale of lots would go to his children. An inventory and appraisal of Samuel Warden's estate in September of 1894 totaled $127,755.44.

The Warden House is located on a street surrounded by other Greek Revival and Italianate houses of the mid to late nineteenth century. Many of these houses can be considered examples of high style architecture. The house the Wardens formerly lived in is an example of simple Greek Revival. It is an intact five-bay 2 112 story frame house with a rear ell, brick end chimneys, and a five-bay one story porch. Typical of houses of this period, the house is based on the central hall plan. The house at 1 15 South Church Street is a painted brick five- bay house with Greek Revival & Italianate details. It has a low hipped roof, tall narrow windows, and carved wood brackets at the eaves. This house retains good integrity. The William Johnston House at 138 South Church street is a circa 1874 common bond brick 2 112 story house with five-bays, stone quoins, and round headed windows with sandstone sills and architraves. It also has a wide overhanging roof with carved wood brackets. This house, with a somewhat more irregular floor plan, begins to resemble the Warden House and other later Mount Pleasant houses which were built as a result of the industrial growth in the area. Several major additions were made to the side and rear, but otherwise the integrity is good.

Another high style example is the Sam Neel House at 22 First Street. This brick 2 1/2 story house is very similar to the Warden House with its five-bay facade, bay window, carved wood brackets at the eaves, and carriage entrance. It has stone lintels and sills for most of the openings. It was built between 1860 and 1879. Unfortunately the Neel house has been severely altered with new windows, repointed brick, and a new roof. It has also been converted to a multiple dwelling. Another contemporary to the Warden House is the Shupe House is located at the 36 Main Street. This elaborate 2 112 story frame Queen Anne rivals the Warden House in both high style detailing and size. The eighteen-room Shupe House was built in circa 1880. It has a wraparound porch, a hipped roof of slate, large brick chimneys, gable ends with carved festoons, wood shingles, and quarter-round windows. Between the two gable ends of the facade is a third floor balcony. The Shupe House has several additions to the rear and side elevations to convert the first floor into a candy store. It still retains many original Queen Anne details. In general, Mount Pleasant houses were typical of coal and coke era houses built by wealthy businessmen. They are large scale with carriage entrances, servants quarters, walnut detailing, marble fireplaces, and many times had outbuildings including a carriage house or separate kitchen. The Warden House remains the most intact with extant outbuildings and a good degree of integrity.

Samuel N. Warden, a son of Samuel Warden (the builder of the house), married Pearl Carter in the Church Street house. They continued to use the house as their residence. Samuel N. was an ordained Presbyterian Minister, but his chosen profession was law. He in many ways continued his father's business dealings and managed the estate. He died in 1935. Pearl C. Warden lived in the house until her death in 1960 when, as instructed by her will, the house passed to her sister Hazel Gilkey. Hazel and her husband, Robert never lived in the house. In 1963, with a significant contribution from the estate of DAR member Bess Cook, the Warden House and its contents were purchased by the Braddock Trail Chapter of the National Society, Daughters of the American Revolution.

The Braddock Trial Chapter is the only such DAR chapter to own and operate a chapter house in Western Pennsylvania. At the time of the purchase, the house was essentially untouched. The Chapter removed the original front porch, which was badly deteriorated at the time, replacing it with the present portico on large square columns. Other changes to the house have been minor, ranging from the installation of some new kitchen elements, new French doors from the dining room to a new metal shed-roofed patio in the rear, and installation of a built-in china cupboard and a Colonial Revival mantelpiece in the dining room, all circa 1960. The second and third stories retain a remarkable amount of integrity, the only changed details being a new bathroom on each floor, added circa 1950, and the installation of radiators in the panels below the sills of the second story bay windows. The summer kitchen and carriage house are currently used for storage. The outhouses were torn down sometime after 1914.

The Samuel Warden House is an important surviving example of the wealth coal and coke brought to towns in Western Pennsylvania similar to Mount Pleasant. It reflects the beginning of the emergence of high- architecture style of the late nineteenth century. The house has seen little change to its overall footprint and still has many defining traits of the era.

Nearby Neighborhoods

Street Names
Church Street South