A.Z. Wells and Emogene Slack were married on December 9,1896 and moved to Wenatchee in 1902. In 1919 they purchased W.T. Clark’s “Cobblestone Castle” on Fifth Street. One can imagine them adding to their early furnishings over the next 31 years of their living in the stately home. When the college acquired “Wells House” in 1950, upon A.Z.’s death, Mrs. Wells left several furniture items in the house for the college’s use. As the campus developed with more buildings, the college began moving out of the house and by 1970 announced the home would be demolished. Soon the remaining furnishings were auctioned off, except for one large buffet that was given to the museum.
While the newly formed Wells House Committee lobbied the college Board of Trustees to not demolish the house and give it to the Committee (finally deeded to them in 1975), the house was extremely vulnerable. It was broken into and vandalized, resulting in damage and theft. Additionally, water damage from freeze damaged plumbing and flooding from vandalism resulted in damage to ceiling and wall plaster, graffiti sprayed on walls and broken interior doors all created repair challenges for the Committee. Worse, was the loss of the living room chandelier, stained glass windows and bookcase cabinet doors all stolen from the home.
Over the years a few furnishings were returned and today remain in the house — a set of four oak chairs from the Welles were recently repaired and the dining room buffet given to the museum was returned and now sits proudly in the dining room. Also known is Mrs. Wells’ 20-piece silver set, a gift made to the Wenatchee YWCA, kept and protected by that organization. A remarkable “find” was the photo collection of the W. T. Clark family held by a relative in Montana. Photo collections from Judy Johnson and Mary Sands, early students living in Wells House, are the only interior photos of the house known about today showing light fixtures and stained glass cabinet doors, now missing.
The latest find was the discovery of a photo taken in 1973 showing two members of the Wells House Committee holding a pottery vase belonging to Mr. and Mrs. W.T. Clark, the original builder/owners of the home. Despite continued research, this vase has not been located.
The Wells House Committee, with support from the Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center, is undertaking preservation work on the house with grant funding from a state of Washington Capital Heritage Grant and private donations. This work will upgrade the electrical service and lighting, repair plaster ceilings and walls, improve bathrooms and replace a section of wood flooring. Additional improvements will include painting and refinishing the main level floor and stairs. Grants and fundraising will be sought for additional work both inside and outside on the 108-year old house which has never gone through a major renovation.
With this current restoration work, the Wells House Committee is more driven than ever to find items from the years of the Clark family, the Wells family and the years the ‘Castle’ housed the first classes and woman’s dorm for the college. The public’s help is crucial in finding any former furnishings that were in the house as well as memories and photos of the interior. Stained glass bookcase doors, stained glass windows, the chandelier from the living room, light fixtures (sconces) are special items we hope to find. If you have any information that would help us locate these historically important items, please contact Anna at the Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center at 888-6241.
Kris Bassett is president of the Wells House Committee. Wells House is an affiliate of the Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center and is available for renting for events and small parties inside, and weddings and larger events outside. For more informationabout renting Wells House, contact the museum at 888-6240.
Teri St. Jean and Jean Towers provided research assistance for this piece.