The Wells House :: 337 W 10th St

.The Ca. 1870 Italianate Style home at 337 W 10th Street still retains much of it’s original exterior elements including columns, windows, bracketing and clapboard.

This Italianate home on the south side of W 10th Street was built ca. 1870 and would remain in the same family until 1991 (121 years). It was originally occupied by Captain John L. Wells and his wife S. Adelia Chambers-Wells. John was born May 20th, 1841 in Harborcreek to Jarvis Wells, who was a chair maker, and his wife Polly Chambers. Adelia was also born in Harborcreek: her father was Stewart Chambers and was a very successful farmer. John and Adelia are both descendents of the Chambers family: their grandfathers were brothers and they are both descended from Colonel Benjamin Chambers who was the founder of Chambersburg, PA in Franklin Township.  

Portrait of Col. Benjamin Chambers, one of the pioneer residents of Pennsylvania (via Ancestry)

Col. Benjamin Chambers was born in 1708 in Antrim, Ireland and came to America when he was around 21 years old. He settled in what would become Chambersburg by 1734 and was considered the first non-indigineous settler in Franklin County, PA. He was granted 1000 acres (and his brother, John, 400) by William Penn. He chose the area at the junction of Falling Springs and the Conococheague and built a log cabin, grist and saw mills utilizing the nearby creeks.

“Fort Chambers” was constructed by Benjamin Chambers ca. 1756 and this portion still stands at 52 W King St in Chambersburg PA

In 1756, during the French and Indian War, he built “Fort Chambers” (for his family’s own protection) portions of which are still standing at 52 W King St in Chambersburg.  The remaining building still has the original log walls and flooring. According to History of Franklin County Pennsylvania (published in 1883): “During the controversy between Lord Baltimore and the Penns, concerning the boundary between Pennsylvania and Maryland, he (Chambers) went to England to assist, by his evidence and advice, in the adjustment of the difficulties involved. From England he went to Ireland, his native soil, where he induced many acquaintances with their families to remove to his new settlement.”

It is from this pioneer lineage that John Wells and Adelia Chambers were born. This also likely contributed to the ease of their fortune. It was John and Adelia’s shared Great Grandfather was Ezekiel Chambers Sr. who came to settle in Harborcreek. Ezekiel and his sons Benjamin and Ezekiel Jr. are mentioned in A Twentieth Century History of Erie County as being among the earliest settlers of Harborcreek, shortly after it was organized in 1800. Ezekiel Sr., who served in the American Revolution, would die shortly after moving to Harborcreek in 1803. The family acquired large tracts of land along Buffalo Road and worked farms there. The land was eventually sectioned off for each Chambers child and their families. This is how John Wells’ parents and Adelia Chambers’ parents happened to both be settled in the same area of Harborcreek.

From the Will of Benjamin Chambers (grandson of Col. Benjamin Chambers) showing the plots of farmland and property to be divided among the family along Buffalo Road in Harborcreek. (via PA Wills and Probates)

John L Wells served in the Civil War in the 111th Regiment of the PA Volunteer Infantry. Upon returning to Erie and marrying Adelia, they initially lived together in a boarding house operated by Kate and Hortense McCarter on 4th and State.  Shortly thereafter, they moved into the home on 10th Street and their family would remain there for over a century, until 1991. John was a pension attorney for the US Government. He also worked in real estate and insurance. He and Adelia had two sons, Raymond and Herbert. Herbert was a paint salesman for Glidden Paints and lived on Rankine Ave in Lawrence Park with his wife Rena.  

Louise Wells, appearing in the Erie Times News March 22, 1928

Raymond ended up living at his parents home at 337 W 10th for the remainder of his life with his wife, Louise. Raymond was also a travelling varnish and paint salesman for Glidden, but he was also a vocalist and musician. In his youth, he often traveled to New York to practice with professional musicians including Professor William J. Parsons (originally from Union City), who also spent some time in Erie at the Wells’ home on 10th Street to give vocal students in Erie a chance to have a lesson with the professional. Raymond performed many concerts in Erie at different churches (often accompanied by Mrs. Charles Colby on piano), concert halls, and venues, as well as offering private voice lessons out of the family home. Raymond’s wife, Louise, was also a singer and a very active local actress, and one can imagine that the home on W 10th Street was often filled with their beautiful songs.

Louise died in 1951 and Raymond remarried. Both couples were childless. Raymond died in 1969 and his second wife remained in the home on 10th Street until her death, when the house then passed to family friend, Emma Maeder-Bussard in 1991, which is the first time the home was not owned by a Wells in its entire history. Shortly thereafter, the home was converted to offices. It is now the Family Law Group LLC offices.

Published by olderieonfoot

I run the Instagram @olderieonfoot about the beautiful old places in my town, Erie PA

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