Massachusetts Hotel Unveils Name Change and Rebranding

February 16, 2024  | 

Southbridge, MA — The Southbridge, Massachusetts-based Southbridge Hotel & Conference Center has completed a name change and rebranding to the historically rich Wellsworth Hotel.

The change of name, brand reconfiguration and new website pays homage to the historic and entrepreneurial spirit of George Washington Wells, who was the owner of what became one of the largest and most respected optical companies in the world – the American Optical Company, locally known as “AO.”

Wells believed that everyone who needed them – not just the elite – should have access to eyeglasses. Thus, he changed history by bringing eyeglass manufacturing to the U.S. in the late 1800’s, by converting a textile mill in Southbridge, Massachusetts, into an optical factory, which houses the Wellsworth Hotel today. The company used the Wellsworth trademark starting in 1911 until 1927. The evolution of the Wellsworth brand began as a type of lens, the Wellsworth Crookes, then extended onto a frame, the Wellsworth Windsors aka “the most beautiful spectacle in America,” and then to AO’s ahead-of-its-time lifestyle magazine, The Wellsworth.

In fact, the historic landmark holds such reverence that the American Optical Historic District will be formally designated to the National Register of Historic Places during a plaque ceremony at the hotel on January 25, a major step toward preserving the area.

“As the pandemic changed the way people travel, growing a larger mix of business and leisure travel clientele came into a stronger focus,” said Charles “Chip” Norton, owner of the hotel. “The hotel embodies a distinctive hybrid of hospitality with storied history, top-notch amenities and a state-of-the art-conference center. The rebrand better tells this story and carries it forward as we continue to attract new leisure guests and business clients.”

Embracing the best elements of the former Southbridge Hotel & Conference Center, the Wellsworth Hotel draws on the original brand ethos that balances beauty, form, and function with rich historical significance. The property features 203 guest rooms and suites, a fitness center with a racquetball court and basketball court, indoor pool, outdoor courtyard, restaurant, lounge and more.

Accredited by the International Association of Conference Centers (IACC), the hotel’s event and meeting space is a hub for innovation and gathering of minds. Steve Gardiner, general manager, added “the Wellsworth Hotel offers 24,000 square feet of flexible meeting and conference space. We’re also centrally located between all the major cities in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island creating an optimal setting for organizations, corporations, and associations across the Northeast to host business functions, whether intimate or large in size.”

The property’s meeting and event spaces include a ballroom, a 250-seat auditorium and multiple breakout rooms. The space can accommodate almost any setting, from a 500-person company retreat to a VIP board meeting. Ergonomic chairs, high-speed Wi-Fi, and audiovisual equipment and technicians will help support any company gathering.

For more information, visit

About the Wellsworth Hotel

Situated in the quaint town of Southbridge, Massachusetts, the Wellsworth Hotel gracefully blends historic touches with a modern feel and resort-style amenities, making an ideal setting for business and leisure travel. Formally home to American Optical Company, an eyeglass and optics manufacturer and innovator for 160 years, today, the property features more than 200 guest rooms and suites infused with modern comforts and traditional New England character. The historic landmark is designated to the National Register of Historic Places. Hotel amenities include a fitness center with indoor pool and basketball court, lounge, restaurant, and outdoor courtyard, as well as 24,000-square-feet of state-of-the-art meeting space. The hotel is accredited by the International Association of Conference Centers (IACC). For more information, visit

This is a press release submitted by the Wellsworth Hotel and previously published elsewhere. Do you have a press release for your organization that you’d like to distribute? Fill out our contact form.

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