Historic Hotels of America®
The Penn Wells is now a member of the Historic Hotels of America®, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The Penn Wells Hotel is one of more than 295 hotels and resorts throughout the country that is recognized by Historic Hotels of America for preserving and maintaining its historic integrity, architecture, and ambiance.
To be selected for membership in Historic Hotels of America, a hotel must be at least 50 years old; have been designated by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior as a National Historic Landmark or listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places; and have been recognized as having historic significance.
The Penn Wells Hotel sits on the site of Wellsboro’s first tavern erected in 1816. After the original structure was destroyed by a fire in 1866, A.P. Cone constructed what would later be known as the Penn Wells Hotel in 1869. The four-story brick building was renamed Coles House in 1885 when it was purchased by J.S. Coles. Upon the death of J.S., his brother William took over the Hotel and made major renovations, including refacing the original brick. In March 1906, a fire destroyed the Hotel’s 4th story. William Coles renovated the Hotel again and operated it as a three-story hotel until his death in 1920.
Between 1920 and 1925, the Hotel floundered as multiple plans to refurbish failed to come to fruition. In 1925, local businessmen — including the great-grandfather of current owner Ellen Dunham Bryant — formed the Wellsboro Hotel Company for the purpose of maintaining a vibrant hotel in the center of Wellsboro. After debating refurbishment or construction of a new two story colonial structure, refurbishment prevailed and a complete renovation of the hotel interior and exterior began. The Hotel was renamed the Penn Wells.
“We view the inclusion of the Penn Wells Hotel in the Historic Hotels of America as a wonderful tribute to generations of individuals who have maintained the Hotel’s historic value,” said Shawn Bryant, CEO of the Wellsboro Hotel Company. “We like to say that the Hotel is ‘a step back in time’ and preservation of that history is central to our mission. We are grateful to be included with other fine hotels that similarly represent and respect America’s history while actively meeting the current needs of travelers and communities.”
Learn more about the history of the Penn Wells Hotel & Lodge.