Pratt-Wells House, c.1907

704 E. Franklin Street

 

Built by Joseph Hyde Pratt in 1905, the Pratt-Wells House is located on land originally owned by the University of North Carolina. Pratt graduated from Yale and moved to North Carolina in 1897 to accept the position as the State Mineralogist. In 1906, he became the State Geologist. Lecturing for some years at UNC on Mineralogy, Pratt became a professor of Economic Geology in 1904. In the first decade of the 20th century, Joseph Pratt sought to improve roads across the state and became a leader in the North Carolina Good Roads movement. Joseph Pratt enlisted in the United States Military during WWI. Upon returning, Pratt continued his efforts to improve infrastructure in North Carolina and served as an engineer with the Civil Works Administration and the U.S. Geological Survey. In 1952, Dr. Warner Wells, a neurosurgeon returning from Japan to accept a position at UNC, purchased the home. Wells found fame when he translated the diary of Dr. Michinika Hachiya, whose writings documented the 1945 Hiroshima bombing. The translated version released as Hiroshima Diary in 1955 became a best seller.