"When I enter an old home, especially the really historic ones, I can't help but wonder about the lives of the those who lived there during the early days."
In late May I had the opportunity to attend a tour of historic homes, a mausoleum and an old hotel in Wenatchee. I wrote a little about it in my Wenatchee Valley Museum Testimonial post on May 29th.
One of the homes we toured was The Wells House, built in 1909. The architectural style is described as: Juxtaposition of craftsman and Tudor with a castle-style tower made from locally sourced stone.
The original owners of the home were William & Adelaide Clark. William Clark engineered the construction of the Highline Irrigation Canal, which is one of the most important sources of agricultural and residential irrigation water in the area to this day. He also was instrumental in building the first bridge across the Columbia River in Wenatchee.
The Clarks owned the home for a relatively short time, selling it to A.Z. and Emogene Wells in 1919. Below is an excerpt from a 2014 article that was published in the local Wenatchee World newspaper. I would give you a link but it won't work unless you are a subscriber. This gives a very interesting history of transfer of ownership and how it became such an iconic part of the Wenatchee Valley College campus to this day.
"A.Z. was born in Missouri in 1869, grew up in South Dakota and in 1896, married Emogene Slick. In 1902, they came to Wenatchee where A.Z. went into business with his nephew, Al Morris in Wells and Morris Co. In 1914, the partnership dissolved and A.Z., along with J.M. Wade, formed Wells and Wade Hardware and Fruit Company. My father, Roland Cranmer, later started Columbia Fruit Company with James Wade, J.M.’s nephew. The Wells and Wade partnership was dissolved in 1937.
After Mr. and Mrs. Wells bought the castle, A.Z. built a patio and outdoor fireplace and it was the scene of many social gatherings. The Wellses were very active in the community, where A.Z. was a leader, belonging to the Wenatchee Commercial Club and raising money for the Columbia River Bridge.
There has always been some controversy about A.Z.’s name. It has been settled that his first name was Alfred. Some think the Z stands for Zachariah, but since his wife and close friends called him Zebbie, I think Zebulon is more likely. It may always be a mystery! The Wellses had only one child, who died at birth. They also owned 900 acres of orchard between Wenatchee and Canada, part of which became the community of Azwell, near Wells Dam.
Prior to his death, the Wellses had established the A.Z. Wells Foundation for nonprofit community causes. This foundation is still active today and the Central Washington Hospital Foundation showed its gratitude by naming a special annual award, the Spirit of A.Z. Wells Award. This year’s recipient is Rudy Pauley.
A.Z. and Emogene lived in the house for 30 years and in 1949, donated the property to the Wenatchee School District for the campus of Wenatchee Junior College. A.Z., being very persuasive, convinced the owners of the surrounding land to sell to the school district and this is now Wenatchee Valley College.
In 1950, Zebbie and Emogene planned a four-month trip around the world. They got as far as West Palm Beach, Fla., where Mr. Wells died suddenly. His body was returned to Wenatchee, where many prominent businessmen were listed as pallbearers and honorary pallbearers at the funeral. Emogene died in 1973, at the age of 98. The last of an important family in our valley was gone."
Although a part of the Wenatchee Valley College, many community and private events are held at The Wells House throughout the year.