Phelps-Tavenner House; Wood County Historical and Preservation Society
“A view of the Phelps House from the Little Kanawha River.”
Col. Phelps Headstone, located at Tavenner Cemetary
Outside of the Phelps-Tavenner house
Original walls showing where a staircase was located was discovered when the paneling was removed in the Hugh’s Room
Paul Bibbee of the Wood County Historical and Preservation Society reads the order establishing the prices Hugh Phelps could charge at his tavern, the first “ordinary” in Wood County
Backstory and Context
Built sometime between the late 1790s to early the 1800s, by Colonel Hugh Phelps, this home is the oldest remaining structure in Wood County, West Virginia. This Federal Style two-story house features walls that are three layers thick and coated in stucco. The home's gable roof cut stone slab foundation offers a model for how the durable homes of the wealthy were constructed to last during this era.
The home was built for the family of Hugh Phelps, a merchant who also served as a colonel for the 113th Regiment of the Virginia militia, Phelps also served as the sheriff of Wood County as well as an early judge for the county. This home also served as the first courthouse of Wood County, the fist of four different locations, before the current courthouse was built in 1899. It is also possible that Phelps also ran an inn and tavern out of this home for a time.
Hugh Phelps died on September 6, 1823 and the property was purchased by Thomas Tavenner, another judge, sheriff, and colonel in the Virginia militia, Tavenner also served as a judge and was a deputy sheriff of Wood County. He was also was elected to the Virginia Legislature.This home remained in the Tavenner family until 1940 when Thomas Tavenner's last grandchild died.
The Phelps-Tavenner House is currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is noted to be the oldest residential building still standing in Parkersburg. The Wood County Historical and Preservation Society currently owns the property and is working to restore the house back to its original state. The organization have since replaced the roof with a newer composite material to give the appearance of the "shaker shingles" that would have been on the original house back in 1800. according to a news article written in 2017, the society is turning the home into an educational center, a place where Parkersburg residents as well as history lovers can go to learn more of the fascinating history that lies in Parkersburg, WV. The house is open to the public as well as during special WCHPS events. It is also available for private tours and may be used for meetings of other small groups.
Wood County Historical and Preservation Society. The Phelps-Tavenner Research Center, WCHPS. July 10th 2015. Accessed March 31st 2020. https://www.wchps.org/.
Mancini, Jess. "Phelps-Tavenner House in Parkersburg to be Educational Center." Parkersburg News and Sentinel (Parkersburg) January 29th 2017. .
Wood County Courthouse, woodcountywv.com. Accessed March 31st 2020. https://woodcountywv.com/history.html.
Accessed March 31st 2020. https://nationalregisterofhistoricplaces.com/.