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Wells-Schaff House (Welkin)

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c. 1832. c. 1935, Howard Sterling. 500 South Wells St. (northwest side of South Wells St., near the southern end of Sistersville)

One of the Upper Ohio Valley's best-preserved examples of antebellum domestic architecture, this house has a five-bay facade with nine-overnine sash on the first floor and six-over-six sash on the second floor. This fenestration pattern and the broad elliptical fanlight over the front door and side lights are Federal in style, but plain stone lintels, a three-part central window on the second floor, and a corbeled brick cornice hint at the Greek Revival, then beginning to come into vogue in the area's architecture. The one-story porch is a later addition. The house was built facing the Ohio River across a level floodplain but was later reoriented to face Wells Street. Architect Sterling, from Pittsburgh, restored the house and designed a new one-story entrance between the main block and the former rear ell.

Eli Wells, son of progenitor Charles, built the house. The family cemetery, which lies between the house and the river, contains the tomb of the patriarch. Its inscription records that he was “a practical farmer and the father of twenty-two children by two wives, ten by the first and twelve by the second.” Another inscription discloses that number 20 was named Twenty Wells. No wonder the name Wells, most of whose bearers made money by drilling oil and gas wells, occurs so often in Sistersville's annals.

Writing Credits

S. Allen Chambers Jr.


What's Nearby


S. Allen Chambers Jr., "Wells-Schaff House (Welkin)", [Sistersville, West Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

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