Joseph Collins Wells, Architect [1814-1860]
Joseph Collins Wells [†] was born in 1814 and educated in England. He moved to New York in 1839 and established a highly successful architectural practice there. In addition to designing townhouses in New York, residences on the Hudson and Staten Island, and in the Berkshires and Connecticut. Wells designed First Presbyterian Church (1846) on Fifth Avenue between 11th and 12th streets in Manhattan, and Henry Ward Beecher's Church of the Pilgrims in Brooklyn (1849). In Connecticut, Wells' most noted work is Roseland Cottage, the Gothic Revival summer residence he designed in 1846 for Henry C. Bowen of Woodstock and New York City. Between 1847 and 1851 Wells designed Stevens Castle (no longer extant) on Prospect Hill in Bridgeport. The project involved remodeling a Greek Revival house into a turreted Gothic cottage.
Wells was one of the most important promoters of the architectural profession in America at mid-19th-century. One of thirteen who attended the first organizational meeting of the American Institute of Architects at Richard Upjohn's office in February 1857, he was also one of forty-nine to sign the A.I.A. constitution. In April of the same year, Wells was elected a Fellow of the A.I,A. and served as Treasurer in 1859. (Upjohn was elected President.) Wells died in 1860 on an English steamer bound for Liverpool.
† Jack A. Gold, Architectural Historian and John Herzan, National Register Coordinator, Jonathan Sturges House (The Cottage), Fairfield County, CT, nomination document, 1984, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.