The site of this home was chosen for its proximity to the Durham family's oil sources. In fact, the home itself had an oil well in the backyard. This well was in use until it was capped in 1948. The Durhams were originally from Ohio but moved to West Virginia to be close to their assets. As other oil investors relocated to the area, the Durham home became a social center for the wealthy. There is documentation of numerous large parties, balls, and galas held in the Durham's residence.
Though Sistersville was settled by Charles Wells in 1800, the town was not incorporated until 1839. Between 1890 and 1920, the population of Sistersville increased from 469 to 3,238 people. This increase in population was due largely to the introduction of the Ohio River Railway to the area in 1884. Just a few years later oil was discovered in the area, adding to the region's population and commercial boom. The E.A. Durham House was built on the tail end of this economic boom, which began to decline early in the 20th century.