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Stunning Italian Renaissance 40-Room Mansion

110 S Chelsea St, Sistersville, WV 26175


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This beautiful Italian Renaissance forty room mansion was designed and its construction personally managed by famed architect Edward Franzheim of Wheeling WV. It was built as a wedding present from Mr. E. A. Durham, president of Wiser Oil, to his wife, Ada, and incorporated several items that they had purchased on a recent trip to Italy. Its construction was begun in about 1921 and completed in 1925. The exterior walls are 14 inches thick made up of a laced 12 inch clay block wall with 1 inch of plaster on the interior and 1 inch of stucco adorned by decorative Indiana Limestone elements on the exterior. It was built using all the best labor and materials available at that time. It has 10 fireplaces, all of which have natural gas available to them. Two of the fireplaces are marble; one white Carrara and one black, both imported from Italy together with a large bank of leaded Venetian glass which is a backdrop for the landing of the grand staircase. There is also a fully functional three stop elevator built by Shepard Warner Elevator Company of Cincinnati, Ohio. Sistersville was a small river town incorporated in 1829 until the wealth of one of Americas first oil booms produced an expansion of great proportions. Prior to the early 1890s, only a few substantial buildings existed, but a boom in construction – from the jerry-built shack of the transient worker to the massive and pleasing lines of eclectic commercial and residence units in brick and frame – resulted from application of a new found well of material resources. Sistersville, it seemed, had been at the heart of Americas first oil boom. Oil was discovered nearby in 1891, and for the next decade, Sistersville was one of the nations biggest producers of crude oil. In fact, at the turn of the century, Sistersville is said to have had the highest per capita income in the nation. The Sistersville of today, with a population of about 1,300, only about 1/10th of its boom peak population, remains much the same as the little town which existed by 1910. Signs of wealth appeared in the turn of the century commercial and residential buildings. This home, the last to be built, is described by the WV State Antiquities Commission as – the most elaborate and eloquent of the homes constructed as a result of the rich oil strikes of the 1890s – and has been lovingly cared for by all of its owners, the sellers being only the 5th to own it. Residents enjoy complete city services, a fully staffed hospital, outstanding public schools, public parks, abundant recreational opportunities, a private country club and convenient shopping. Located midway between and approximately an hours drive from the business and commercial centers of Wheeling and Parkersburg, WV, Sistersville also offers easy access to many of the nations major metropolitan areas. Within an easy drive are: Pittsburgh, Columbus and Charleston, WV. Less than a single day’s drive are: Washington D.C., Baltimore, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Cleveland and New York City. Air service to all points is also available close by.

So many features: tons of storage, closets, and entertainment space, beautiful landscaping, several covered porches and a huge open terrace, 9 ft German silver sink in Butler’s Pantry, a wine cellar with space for 400 bottles, Mahogany paneling in the Living Room, quarter sawn Oak paneling in the Billiard/Family Room, elevator, two 100A electrical services with wire in conduit throughout, crystal chandeliers in the Foyer and Dining Room, porcelain flowered custom light fixtures in the Master Bedroom and Sun Porch, copper gutters and downspouts, a 9ft x 24ft greenhouse, and only a couple of blocks from the Ohio river. All built to the highest standards of the 1920s. The gas fired low pressure steam boiler (new in 2009) heats the home very efficiently. The gas bill budget is only $162 per month and includes the hot water heater (new in 2015), 2 stoves and all the fireplace heaters. Square footage: as measured from outside perimeter of walls enclosing heated areas: Basement 3,584 sf – 8ft ceiling height First Floor 3,784 sf – 10ft6in ceiling height Second Floor 3,505 sf – 9ft ceiling height Attic 520 sf – 7ft ceiling height Total 11,393 square feet

*Room Count:

*For Floor Plans, Elevations and Perspectives created from the Original Blueprints go to:

*Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. Text:


The home is being sold fully furnished except for a few personal items yet to be determined.


  • Property ID
  • 5
  • 6
  • Square Footage
    11393 sqft
  • Lot Size
    0.64 acres
  • Other
  • Icon
    Year Built

Updated on July 23, 2020 at 9:20 am


  • Address: 110 S Chelsea St.
  • City: Sistersville
  • State/county: West Virginia
  • Zip/Postal Code: 26175
  • Country: United States

Contact Agent

Daniel Marrin
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