10 Historic Districts To See This Year

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Miss Riggle operated taverns and a bordello along the National Road
Miss Riggle operated taverns and a bordello along the National Road
Photo credit: Generic1139 via Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

Washington County has a diverse history – as the national frontier in the 1700s, a major transportation route along the National Road in the 1800s and part of America’s industrial heartland in the 1900s.

The diversity is reflected in historic districts in western Washington County, the pike towns that can still be seen today, remains of the industry in the Mon Valley that helped grow America into a world power, and a district that shows how people who grew affluent from that industry lived.

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Western Washington County

When the area was first settled by Europeans in the late 1700s and early 1800s, Washington County was the country’s western frontier. Three historic district exist in or near southwest Washington County.

The Taylorstown Historic District in rural western Washington County is the same size as it was laid out 227 years ago. There were a general store and dry goods store, a hatter’s shop – even on the frontier, hats were a fashion necessity, a blacksmith, mills to process grain and lumber, a woodworking shop, tavern with rooms and a church. Early buildings were made of logs covered in clapboard.
Brick buildings were built.
In the late 1800s, Taylorstown boomed when oil fields were drilled.
Nearly 50 surviving buildings – most of them houses – can be seen today. The Washington County History & Landmarks Foundation (WCHLF) designated it as a historic district.
The West Alexander Historic District is located in West Alexander. It is designated as an historic district by the WCHLF.
The West Middletown Historic District, situated in West Middletown, is designated an historic district by the WCHLF.

Pike Towns

Pike towns grew up during the boom times of the National Road. Like the business districts that build up around interchanges with interstates today, they serviced the people who passed through until the arrival of trains and then a modern road system displaced them. Three historic districts in Washington County were pike towns.

The Scenery Hill Historic District, just 19 minutes from Washington, is the nearest pike town. More than ninety residences, taverns from the heyday of the National Road, related service facilities and retail stores can be seen. Century Inn, formerly Hill’s Tavern, and the Ringland Tavern, which is not in use, are must see buildings.
There’s quite a view of the countryside.
The WCHLF designated it an historic district and it’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Beallsville Historic District, southeast of Scenery Hill, has nearly 100 National Pike era buildings, including a Methodist-Episcopal church built in 1874, taverns and the house of a toll keeper. Their architecture reflects the trends when they were built.
See an historic cemetery where burials have taken place for nearly two centuries.
Look for an original cast iron milestone installed along the National Road around 1835.
The WCHLF designated Beallsville as a historic district. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Centerville Historic District, southeast of Beallsville, was halfway between Uniontown and Washington on the National Pike. Remaining buildings of the pike town include the John Rogers Tavern and the Zephania Riggle Tavern, shops and residences. The 94 buildings in the district provide a good example of a stage coach stop when people and goods traveled by coach, horseback or on foot.
There’s not much commercial activity today.
The Washington County History & Landmarks Foundation designated it as an historic district. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Mon Valley

The Charleroi Historic District is the largest historic district in the county with nearly 1700 structures built in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Union halls, clubs, churches and brick retail stores can be seen. Most of the buildings are two-story wood houses with gables.
Poured concrete homes, which were trendy 100 years ago, were constructed in Donora for middle management at the American Steel and Wire Company. They were located as far away from the pollution from the zinc works as possible. They make up the Cement City Historic District.
People live in many of the homes today.
Cement City was designated an historic district by the WCHLF. The PA Historical and Museum Commission installed a marker. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Photos of the construction of the development can be seen at the Donora Historical Society.
When Marianna was built above Tenmile Creek more than a century ago, it was considered a model company town for the Marianna Mine, which exploded in 1908, killing 152 people who mined coal. Electricity was provided to the houses. There were indoor bathrooms with hot water.
More than 200 homes that are pretty much how they were 100 years ago can be seen in the Marianna Historic District. People reach them by driving what the WCHLF referred to as tight, winding roads. A company store, churches and public hall also still stand.
The WCHLF designated the district as a historic district.


While oil, gas, coal and glass provided jobs to thousands of people in Washington County, a few people grew wealthy. They moved into stately Victorian homes in East Washington in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

More than one hundred Victorian houses make up the East Washington Historic District, providing a last bastion of Victorian-era architecture to be seen in the county. The bulk of the houses reflect the character of the neighborhood as it was a century ago.
It is designated as a historic district by the WCHLF and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The growth of Washington County from a frontier to a major route into the westward expansion of America, to a mineral-rich resource and manufacturing center can be seen today through a progression of historic districts. Visiting the historic districts in 2022 will remind people of the history of America as reflected in the county.