“A view of the Phelps House from the Little Kanawha River.”
Painting by Marj Teague, a descendant of Hugh Phelps.
The Phelps-Tavenner Research Center
The Wood County Historical and Preservation Society purchased the oldest house in Wood County, WV, in June 2015. Built by Col. Hugh Phelps circa 1800, the Phelps-Tavenner House is the most historic property in Wood County, relating specifically to the pioneers of the area. The Phelps-Tavenner Research Center is located at 2401 Camden Avenue.
The home was the gathering place for many of the political, economic and social events of the day. Hugh Phelps himself served as sheriff of Wood County , was an early justice for the county and a colonel in the 113th Regiment of the Virginia Militia. Phelps also operated a tavern, or “ordinary,” most likely in his house, where travelers and influential men of the area, enjoyed food, conversation and “spirits.” Wood County was formed in Hugh Phelps house and it served as the first Wood County Courthouse. Col. Thomas Tavenner purchased the house when Phelps died in 1823. It was owned by Tavenner’s family until the last grandchild died in 1940. Tavenner was also a militia officer and prominent early settler of the area, having roles in local and state government. He served as justice of the peace, was on the Wood County court, served as deputy sheriff and was elected to the Virginia Legislature. The Phelps-Tavenner House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and, according to the nomination form, is the oldest residential dwelling still standing in Parkersburg at its original location. The house is of the Federal style and sits on a foundation of cut stone. The original brick construction was three layers thick, which has since been covered with a stucco finish. In the 1940’s many modernization's to the house were made and its early 19th century outbuildings were torn down. The WCHPS is in the process of returning the house, as closely as possible, to its original appearance.
We have a new roof!
The aging asphalt shingle roof was replaced with a modern, composite material that resembles the “shake shingles” that would have originally been on the house.
Phelps-Tavenner Research Center
Since purchasing the house, the society is restoring where possible and renovating where necessary. The Resource Barn has been created to house the genealogical and local history library. It is separate from the house. A summer kitchen with a working fireplace has been built on the site of the original summer kitchen. A garden/tool shed has also been recently created along with a kitchen garden and a raised flower garden.
The house is open to the public on Wednesdays from 9:00 am – 1:00 p.m., during special WCHPS events. The house and the Resource Barn may be used for meetings of other small groups as well as private tours and research purposes. Please contact us for more information.
The ordinary, or tavern, that Hugh Phelps offered would have been in this room. Traces of the twisting stairs that led to the second floor and splotches of the original plaster over the fireplace have been left exposed.