Looking back: Looking ahead … Phelps-Tavener Research Center is open for work News, sports, jobs

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 Conservation Society. Study hours have recently been extended to include Saturday. The small building on the right is the summer kitchen. It, as well as the stone and brick fireplace have been restored on the same foundation 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 answers. Over the years, members of the Historical Society and others have donated a wide range of resources. The last six years have been spent sorting and cataloging books, newspaper clippings, photographs, atlases, lexicons and family stories. We believe that we now have them organized enough to be able, hopefully, to help you find the information you need. Saturday hours have been added to make it easier for those who wish to do research but cannot come to our regular hours on Wednesdays (9 a.m. to 3 p.m.).

The collection of the Phelps-Tavener Research Center has over 300 books of local interest, many of which are rare. We have 400 family stories available – some with significant amounts of information. We have over 600 files of articles and photos on such topics as government, disasters, churches, schools, businesses and all topics in between. Maps, rare atlases, cemetery information, lexicons, etc. are available for research purposes. As a bonus, our bookstore has local history books and brochures for sale.

If you or perhaps a student from your family want to explore a topic in local history, please visit the Phelps-Tavener Research Center for research and / or a tour of our beautiful Phelps-Tavener House on Wednesdays from 9 am to 3 pm or on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Can’t do those classes? Call Bob Enoch at 304-483-9863, Dottie Bibi at 304-489-1629 or Diana Hill at 304-699-5231 for special arrangements.

About the Phelps-Tavener House: The nomination in the National Register shows that the house was built by Col. Hugh Phelps around 1810. The Historical Society believes it is closer to 1799 and that this is the house where were the first county commissioners elected and in which Wood County was established. Phelps was the son-in-law of Captain James Neal and accompanied him in 1785, creating the first permanent settlement in present-day Parkersburg.

Colonel Phelps (1766-1823) was the second high sheriff of Wood County. Early Wood historian and genealogist John A. House considers Phelps to be “Economic Mind of the Little Kanawha Colony, Chief Spirit of the New District.”

After the death of Phelps in “Sick season” of 1823 and the death of his wife (daughter of Capt. Neil) in 1824, their brick home was purchased by Thomas Tavener (1776-1857). Tavener, deputy sheriff at Phelps, became chief sheriff in 1821. About Tavener, Wood County historian Stephen Chester Shaw writes, “Tavener, during his stay in the county, filled a wide sphere of public life, having a strong energetic constitution and natural business habits. He was a man of quick sensitivity and strong feelings, sympathetic to the suffering of their plight. “

The Tavener family lived in a brick house built by Hugh Phelps until 1940.


Bob Enoch is president of the Wood County Historical and Conservation Society. If you have comments or questions about rear-view items, please contact him at: [email protected] or by mail at WCHPS, PO Box 565, Parkersburg, WV 26102.

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