Joseph C. Wells

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"Old First" in Greenwich Village

Joseph Collins Wells (1814–1860)[1][2] was an English-born architect who practiced in New York City from 1839 to 1860. He was a founding member of the American Institute of Architects, and several of his works have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Two of his works, the Henry C. Bowen House and the Jonathan Sturges House, have been designated as U.S. National Historic Landmarks. He also designed First Presbyterian Church ("Old First"), a New York City Landmark in Greenwich Village.

Life and career[edit]

Wells was born in England in 1814 and emigrated to the United States in 1839.[1][3] His first known work in the United States is the Jonathan Sturges House in Connecticut.[2] By 1840, Wells had formed a partnership with architect William Ranlett in New York City; that partnership lasted one year.[3] Wells has been credited with designing some of "the earliest Gothic Revival cottages in this country", a style later popularized by Andrew Jackson Downing.[2]

In February 1857, Wells was one of 13 architects who met to form an organization to "promote the scientific and practical perfection of its members" and "elevate the standing of the profession."[4] The organization became the American Institute of Architects.[4][5] Others at that meeting included Richard Morris Hunt, Charles Babcock, Richard Upjohn, his son Richard Mitchell Upjohn and Leopold Eidlitz.[6]

A number of his works are listed on the National Register of Historic Places,[7] and two, the Henry C. Bowen House and the Jonathan Sturges House, are U.S. National Historic Landmarks.


Wells' works include:

The Villard Houses are sometimes misattributed to Wells, but they were in fact built more than 20 years after he died, and were actually designed by Joseph M. Wells (1853–1890) of the McKim, Mead & White firm.[17]



  1. ^ a b "Collections on Display". Historic New England. (providing year of birth and death)
  2. ^ a b c "Jonathan Sturges House". CT Trust for Historic Preservation. (providing middle name and years of birth and death)
  3. ^ a b "William Ranlett". The Hermitage Museum. 
  4. ^ a b "History of the American Institute of Architects". The American Institute of Architects. 
  5. ^ "History of The American Institute of Architects". American Institute of Architects. Archived from the original on 2 March 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-04. 
  6. ^ Stanton, Phoebe B., The Gothic Revival & American Church Architecture: An Episode in Taste 1840–1856, the Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 1997 p. 321
  7. ^ a b c d e "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09. 
  8. ^ Ochsner, Jeffrey Karl (1982). H. H. Richardson: Complete Architectural Works. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press. p. 41. ISBN 978-0-262-65015-1. 
  9. ^ Breiner, David (January 5, 1993). "(Former) Century Association Building". New York: New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. p. 2. 
  10. ^ New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission; Postal, Matthew A. (ed. and text); Dolkart, Andrew S. (text). (2009) Guide to New York City Landmarks (4th ed.) New York: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-470-28963-1, pp. 55–56
  11. ^ Norval White, Elliot Willensky, Fran Leadon (2010). AIA Guide to New York City. Oxford University Press. p. 149. ISBN 0195383869. 
  12. ^ "Luzerne County Courthouse". Luzerne County. 
  13. ^ Herschensohn, Michael J.; Reed, Roger (February 1980). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: Aurora Village-Wells College Historic District". Retrieved 2008-08-03.  and Accompanying 33 photos from 1977–1980
  14. ^ AIA Guide to New York City, p. 610.
  15. ^ James L. Yarnall (2005). Newport Through Its Architecture. UPNE. p. 55. ISBN 1584654910. 
  16. ^ "Tribeca South Historic Disrict Extension, Designation Report". New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. November 19, 2002. pp. 42–43. 
  17. ^ "McKim, Mead, White (and Wells)" Architects and Artisans (25 January 2011)

External links[edit]