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The Wells Inn

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1894–1895, W. B. O'Neil (architect), O'Neil and John Rea (builders). 316 Charles St. (southwest side of Charles St., between Wells and Chelsea sts.)
  • (West Virginia Collection within the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division)

Opened at the height of the oil boom, this three-story hotel presents a businesslike mien to the street with two-bay end pavilions projecting beyond a three-bay central section. Walls are faced with hard-pressed red brick, and all windows, which are paired above the first story, have sandstone lintels. A finely detailed brick cornice provides a handsome finish. The rather solid one-story entrance portico in front of the central section replaces a more delicate original porch.

Ephraim Wells, grandson of Charles Wells, built the structure as the Wells Hotel, the town's premier hostelry. When it opened, all twentyeight guest rooms were advertised as “furnished in first class style,” although some, for “state guests,” were decorated more richly than others. During the twentieth century, the building went through a series of owners, several remodelings, and other vicissitudes. A grandson of the builder purchased it in 1965, restored it, and reopened it as the Wells Inn. It has closed and reopened several times since, but as of this writing continues as a fine, increasingly rare example of a small-town, turn-of-the-century hotel.

Writing Credits

S. Allen Chambers Jr.


What's Nearby


S. Allen Chambers Jr., "The Wells Inn", [Sistersville, West Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

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