Introducing The Wellsworth

In January 2024,after 23 wonderful years as Southbridge Hotel and Conference Center, we’re excited to showcase our new name: Wellsworth Hotel, a symbol of our commitment to innovation, excellence, and renewed vision. Wellsworth pays homage to American Optical Company, founded by George Wells more than 160 years ago in the location that our hotel now sits. We honor the legacy with preservation of the American Optical historic clock tower, façade, foyer, and elegant marble staircase.

On January 25, 2024, our property was further recognized by the United States Department of The Interior with a listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Both of these events play homage to the history of this property and the town.

The Wellsworth Hotel was chosen to highlight our historical connection to the American Optical Company.  Wellsworth was the name of American Optical’s lifestyle magazine in the 1900’s. The name originally comes from a type of lens, the Wellsworth Crookes.

In 1916, AO hired Edgar “Doc” Tillyer as AO Director of Research. Tillyer was a true man of science, with a vast breadth of knowledge and contagious enthusiasm for optics, respected worldwide by experts in the field. Shortly afterwards, Tillyer hired Dr Estelle Glancy as his right-hand person for matters relating to lens design. Dr Glancy was a brilliant & distinguished mathematician & scientist in her own right. Once Tillyer & Glancy had a design and working prototypes, they were challenged to transform the large and bulky focimeter into an easy to operate, compact & economical device. But before this could happen, the focimeter needed calibration for accuracy. Prior to his employment at AO, Tillyer produced a complete set of accurate, standardized lenses for the National Bureau of Standards. This set was used to calibrate the Lensometer.

In 1916, American Optical were preparing  to commercialize their Lensometer, marketed as the “Wellsworth Lensometer”. However, the release was paused due to the beginnings of WW1. The Wellsworth Lensometer was eventually introduced in 1921 – 5 years later. American Optical continued to improve and refine its 1921 Wellsworth Lensometer. By 1938, AO launched the “Junior Lensometer” with innovations including a table fixture and an ink dotting device. This was the most successful selling Lensometer in history.

Later,  AO made a frame called the Wellsworth Windsors, which was known as “the most beautiful spectacle in America” during it’s time. 

The Wellsworth Hotel authentically and effortlessly embodies the defining features of an historic boutique hotel with the amenities of a luxury property and state-of-the-art conference center.

We encourage you to contact us for more information about our accommodations, event or meeting options and see how we have preserved the AO history throughout the Wellsworth.