MCFADDIN-WARD HOUSE. Before her death in October 1982 Mamie McFaddin Ward set plans to turn the McFaddin home, located at 1906 McFaddin Avenue in Beaumont, into a museum, a project for which she established the Mamie McFaddin Ward Heritage Foundation. The museum includes the house, carriage house, and collection, which the McFaddin family acquired between the 1890s and 1940s. It exemplifies the manner of living of a wealthy Southeast Texas family between 1907 and 1950. In July 1983 the board hired its first director, and the museum opened in March 1986. The collection is devoted to the decorative arts and is composed of an estimated 12,000 items ranging from Midwestern manufactured furniture, Oriental rugs, and American and English silver, to Continental European porcelain and Italian sculpture. The house itself was designed in 1905 by Henry Conrad Mauer of Beaumont in a blend of Victorian and Greek Revival styles, which also betrays a strong French beaux-arts influence. The lot for the house and carriage house, also designed by Mauer, comprises a full city block. Part of the land had been purchased in 1853 by Mamie Ward's grandfather, William M. McFaddin, and part had been granted him by the Republic of Texas. McFaddin's daughter, Di (McFaddin) Averill, and her husband, Col. W. C. Averill, commissioned the house after their previous home burned down in January 1905. They moved in during the summer of 1906, but soon decided the house was too large for them. Mrs. Averill persuaded her brother, William Perry Herring McFaddin (Mrs. Ward's father), to exchange homes with them. After McFaddin and his wife, Ida Caldwell McFaddinqv, moved in in 1907, they added several rooms, including the breakfast room and conservatory. They also decorated the interiors in a variety of styles, as was the fashion at the time, drawing on Colonial Revival, French Louis XV, and Renaissance Revival themes. During her tenure as lady of the house from 1950 to 1982, their daughter Mrs. Ward added to the collection, but she did not redecorate any of the rooms.
Since the McFaddins were careful to preserve documents about the house, family, and collection, the museum's archives are a major source for local and regional history. The archives (more than 200 archival boxes) are composed of the papers of the principal family members as well as blueprints, maps, plats, and abundant business ledgers. There are also oral histories collected by the staff. In 1985 the board commissioned a visitor center. In February 1909 the house was featured as the cover story for the Houston-based Southern Orchards and Homes, which claimed that "the building stands today...as one of the best in Texas." It has since been the subject of books and other magazine feature articles. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971 and five years later received a registered Texas historical marker (see TEXAS HISTORICAL COMMISSION).
Jessica Foy and Judith Linsley, The McFaddin-Ward House (Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1992). Martha S. Reed, "New Museum Is Part of Southeast Texas History: The McFaddin-Ward House," Metropolitan Beaumont, March-April 1986. Ann Richardson, ed., The Grand Homes of Texas (Austin: Texas Monthly Press, 1982). Ann Ruff and Henri Farmer, Historic Homes of Texas (Houston: Lone Star, 1987). Sandy Sheehy, "Beaumont: Treasures of a Golden Age," Texas Homes, July-August 1979. Mamie McFaddin Ward Papers, McFaddin-Ward House Museum, Beaumont. Rosine McFaddin Wilson, "The McFaddin Family," Texas Gulf Historical and Biographical Record 16 (1980).