Look Back: Looking Forward… Phelps-Tavenner Research Center open to commerce | News, Sport, Work

The Resource Barn, part of the Phelps-Tavenner Research Center at 2401 Camden Ave. in South Parkersburg, is owned and operated by the Wood County Historical and Preservation Society. Research hours have recently been expanded to include Saturdays. The small building on the right is the summer kitchen. It, and the stone and brick fireplace have been rebuilt on the same foundations as the original. (Photo provided)

If you have questions about local history or your family history, the historical society is available to help you find the answers. Over the years, historical society members and others have donated a vast assortment of resources. The past six years have been spent sorting and cataloging books, newspaper clippings, pictures, atlases, scrapbooks and family stories. We believe we’ve now organized them sufficiently so that we can hopefully help you find the information you need. The Saturday time has been added for the convenience of those who wish to do research but cannot come during the normal Wednesday hours (9:00 to 15:00).

The collection of the Phelps-Tavenner Research Center contains over 300 books of local interest, many of which are rare. We have 400 family stories available, some with substantial amounts of information. We have over 600 files of articles and images on topics such as government, disasters, churches, schools, businesses and all in-between topics. Maps, rare atlases, cemetery information, scrapbooks, etc. are available for research purposes. As a bonus, our book shop offers local history books and brochures for sale.

If you, or perhaps a student in your family, want to explore a topic of local history, visit the Phelps-Tavenner Research Center for research and / or a tour of our beautiful Phelps-Tavenner home on Wednesdays from 9am to 3pm. : 00 or Saturday from 10:00 to 13:00 Are you unable to respect these times? Call Bob Enoch at 304-483-9863, Dottie Bibbee at 304-489-1629 or Diana Hill at 304-699-5231 for special arrangements.

About the Phelps-Tavenner House: The National Registry appointment indicates that the house was built by Colonel Hugh Phelps, around 1810. Historical society believes it was closer to 1799 and that this is the same house where the first commissioners were of selected county and in which Wood County was created. Phelps was the son-in-law of Captain James Neal and accompanied him in 1785, establishing the first permanent settlement in what is now Parkersburg.

Colonel Phelps (1766-1823) was the second high sheriff of Wood County. Wood County’s first historian and genealogist, John A. House, considered Phelps the “Little Kanawha colony master, New Shire spirit master.”

After Phelps’ death in “Sick season” in 1823 and on the death of his wife (Captain Neal’s daughter) in 1824, their brick house was bought by Thomas Tavenner (1776-1857). Tavenner, deputy sheriff under Phelps, became High Sheriff in 1821. Of Tavenner, Wood County historian Stephen Chester Shaw writes: “Tavenner, during his residence in the county, held a broad sphere of public life, possessing a strong and vigorous constitution and natural trading habits. He was a man of quick sensitivity and strong feelings, who sympathized with the suffering in their anguish ”.

Members of the Tavenner family lived in the brick house built by Hugh Phelps until 1940.


Bob Enoch is president of the Wood County Historical and Preservation Society. If you have any comments or questions about Look Back items, please contact him at: [email protected] or by post at WCHPS, PO Box 565, Parkersburg, WV 26102.

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