The McFaddin-Ward House Museum serves as the city's cultural and historic center offering house tours of the three-story home and hosting special events.
The historic home is a 12,800 square-foot Beaux Arts Colonial Revival style house and its structure and furnishings reflect the lifestyle of the prominent family who lived in the house for seventy-five years. The three-story home has been restored to the period 1906-1950 when the McFaddins and Wards lived in the home. With its four massive Ionic columns and colonnade-lined porch, the house graces a full city block. Two massive, 120-year-old Live Oak trees shade the porte-cochere while anchoring the 40,000 square feet of spacious lawns, flower beds and rose gardens. Behind the home is a two-story carriage house, complete with servants' quarters, a gymnasium and hayloft, and horse stalls.
The museum can make the rare claim that the vast majority of furnishings on display are original to the home, as most historic homes lose their contents through inheritance, back taxes, or updating. On view are the largest concentration of Robert Mitchell furniture, many Dresden and sterling silver pieces, priceless oriental rugs, and family heirlooms.
The architecture of the home has been praised in several important books, such as University of Virginia architectural historian Richard Guy Wilson's definitive book "The Colonial Revival House" with the museum's façade featured on the front cover of the book.
In addition, the magnificent home has been added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971 and it was named a Texas State Historic Landmark 1976. The home has been featured on TV's Arts & Entertainment's America's Castles as a Lone Star Estate, a program that showcased only three Texas homes. Among the various magazine and newspaper articles about the house is the Arts & Antiques magazine with a multi-page photo spread for its Summer 1991 issue.
The McFaddin-Ward House Museum is blessed with its dedicated cadre of volunteers who guide groups, retelling family stories and offering insights to a gracious lifestyle from a century ago. The tour guides strive to give the kind of tour that, after spending ninety minutes in the home and on its grounds, tourists depart having been treated as house guests. The tours are a mere $3 per person and often the museum offers open houses when the public can visit the first floor for free.
Twice a year, new objects are put on display. Because Christmas was a favorite holiday for the family, the museum is dressed in fresh flowers and decorated with family holiday items for two months. During the summer and fall months, the curatorial staff sets never-before-seen objects on display in the home's twenty-plus rooms.
Through its varied offerings, the museum delightfully educates children and adults about a gracious lifestyle during a pivotal time in Texas. The McFaddins owned the land where the world's first oil gusher blew in, which in turn began the petroleum industry and revolutionized travel. Virtually all of the museum's programs are free and always open to the public, and range from holiday celebrations, open houses, lectures, book clubs, children's events, teas, and much more. Each summer, the museum trains teens for its Junior Interpreter program where the young people learn to escort groups on tours and volunteer in the museum's many programs. Each fall, qualified adults complete the docent training class and join the other experienced guides in their volunteer social events and continuing education courses.
The museum does scholarly work as well. It mounts major history and museum conferences, with attendees coming from across the state and nation. The museum staff authors historic and reference books. One of the most popular books is a compilation of family recipes whose title came from Mamie Ward when she commented about a family dish: "Perfectly Splendid."
The Home's History
The McFaddin-Ward House was built in 1905 - 1906 in the Beaux-Arts colonial style architecture in Beaumont, Texas on fashionable Calder Avenue. Di Vernon Averill commissioned architect Henry Conrad Mauer to build the house, which was sold the next year to Di's brother, William Perry Herring McFaddin and his wife Ida Caldwell McFaddin. The couple moved into the house in 1907 with their three children: Mamie, age 12, Perry, Jr. age 9, and James Caldwell, age 6.
In the year of their move, the family built a substantial carriage house and added a breakfast room, conservatory, and additional bedroom to the rear of the house. When the McFaddins' daughter Mamie married Carroll Ward in 1919, the newlyweds moved in with the McFaddins and lived there their entire married life. Before Mamie McFaddin Ward died in 1982, she created a foundation to preserve her beloved house and its contents. The house opened as a museum in 1986. It is one of the few Texas historic homes accredited by the American Association of Museums.
Touring the House
Open Hours: 10am-4pm Tue-Sat; 1pm-4pm Sun. Closed Mondays and Holidays. $3/person. A highly-trained and devoted volunteer-docent escorts small groups through the house. Guided tours at 10am, 11am, 1:30pm, 2:30pm. Allow 2 hours. The Carriage House is open only on the weekends. Tours start at the Visitor Center, 1906 Calder at Third Street, Beaumont TX 77701.
Group and bus tours are welcomed and need to make prior arrangements for visiting the home. Children must be 8 years or older and accompanied by an adult. The historic home is handicap accessible on the first floors of the house and carriage house. Be sure to call for a tour appointment time to avoid disappointment. 409-832-2134