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Vienna, Wood County, was first settled in 1773 when Dr. John Briscoe arrived with his sons and slaves, but it was an unsuccessful attempt. The eruption of Dunmore’s War the following year drove the Briscoe party back to their former home in eastern Virginia.

Dr. Joseph Spencer of East Haddam, Connecticut, secured a large tract of land and permanently settled Vienna in 1794. While the origin of the name is unknown, it possibly originated from a Revolutionary War battle in which Spencer participated in Vienna, New Jersey. In 1795, the Virginia General Assembly incorporated 100 acres of the Spencer farm as a town. Like many western land speculations, it did not prosper. Few of the surveyed lots sold. Vienna failed in 1799–1800 in an attempt to become the county seat of Wood County.

Spencer and his heirs sold off his holdings, and Vienna remained mostly farms until the early 20th century. Then new means of transportation such as the Ohio River Railroad (1884), the Interurban streetcar line (1902), and improved roads encouraged the growth of both industry and population. By 1940, Vienna had five glass factories, a canning company, a silk mill, and, in 1902, West Virginia’s first country club. When incorporated as a city in 1935, Vienna’s population hovered around 1,500. Twenty-five years later, it had jumped to 9,300 due to a growth spurt following World War II. In 1972, Vienna, which adjoins north Parkersburg, became home to the Grand Central Mall, West Virginia’s first shopping mall. Vienna had a population of 10,676 in 2020, making it West Virginia’s 13th largest city.

Written by Ray Swick


  1. Black, Donald F. History of Wood County. Marietta, OH: Richardson Printing, 1975.

  2. Vienna Historical Committee. Vienna, Virginia 1794, Vienna, West Virginia 1994 Bicentennial. Parsons: McClain, 1994.

  3. Lewis Summers' Journal of a Tour from Alexandria, Virginia, to Gallipolis, Ohio, in 1808. Southern Historical Magazine, (Feb. 1892).