Front View of Thomas House Five images of buildings and grounds
Ohio Association of Historical Societies and Museums

Ward — Thomas Museum
Home of the Niles Historical Society
503 Brown Street Niles, Ohio 44446

E-Mail Us Phone: 330.544.2143

Mail: PO Box 368 Niles, Ohio 44446

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Individual Membership: $20.00
Family Membership: $30.00
Patron Membership: $50.00
Business Membership: $100.00
Lifetime Membership: $500.00
Corporate Membership: Call

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Built in 1862, the Ward Thomas House was the home of two prominent Niles industrial families. James Ward, who built the house, was a pioneer in the iron industry in the Mahoning Valley. He built puddling plants, Falcon Nail and Iron Company and the Russia mill for manufacturing steel.

The second owners were John and Margaret Thomas who came to this country from Wales. The Thomas family founded the Niles Firebrick Company and later, Mahoning Valley Steel. The Thomas family occupied the house until 1969 when the property was deeded to the City of Niles. Through the efforts of Clare Westenfield, a local attorney, the house became the home of the Niles Historical Society.

Formal front door of Ward-Thomas Museum

The house is now a museum consisting of fourteen rooms, many furnished in the style of the period, some with furniture owned by the Thomas family and donated to the museum. The museum collection has more than 5000 items, including many from the two families. Throughout the museum, mannequins wear life size replicas of the White House ladies’ gowns displayed at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C..

Two White House Ladies' gowns

Also on the five acre property are a recently restored barn and a 1925 green house as well a various gardens and 56 varieties of trees in the arboretum. Care of the house and gardens is done by volunteers and the house is decorated appropriately for each season.
Rebuilt green house

Proceeding from the back porch of the Ward-Thomas house, a walk-way leads to a secondary building. This building is used as a workspace for the greenhouse.

The first Sunday of each month the Thomas House is open to the public from 2 - 5 pm.
The last tour begins at 4:00 pm and ends at 5:00 pm.

Additional guided tours may be arranged by contacting the Niles Historical Society
or calling: 330.544.2143.

Building used as workspace for green house


Niles Historical Society
September 2019 Calendar

Niles Historical Society
September 2019 Calendar

Open House:

The Niles Historical Society will hold its monthly open house of the Ward-Thomas House at 503 Brown Street on Sunday, September 8 from 1:00-5:00 with the last tour beginning at 4:00.

Niles Historical Society volunteer Ralph Tolbert will present a program entitled "How Urban Renewal Changed Niles Forever" on Mon., Sept 16, 2019 at 7:00 in the Westenfield Room on the grounds of the Ward-Thomas House at 503 Brown St. in Niles.

Historical photographs from the Niles Historical Society's collection showing changes in downtown Niles from 1930-1976 will be viewed. Tolbert maintains the society's website,, produces the society's newsletter and posts on the Facebook site I Am So Niles. He has presented many programs featuring the history of Niles. Donations will be accepted and historical books will be for sale.

Thank You:


The Niles Historical Society would like to thank all those who made its recent Heritage Days and Car Show such a success.

Rick Muccio drew caricatures.
Amanda Beagle with a talent show.
Sandra Bilovesky with children's games.
Mason St. Clair with presidential memorabilia.
Anna Mae Cuchna with book sales.
Joyce Mahan in the gardens.
Diana Bauman with refreshments.
Ralph Tolbert with a slide show.
Lynda Ralston and Nancy Malone as docents.
Dave Martin
in the barn.

The many other volunteers that helped throughout the day.

Dave Petrilla for organizing the car show and social media announcements and advertising.

Anna Marie Beagle, Niles Historical Society President, for organizing the event.

Memberships Available:

Society memberships may be obtained for $20.00 an individual and $30.00 for a family. All are welcome to join. Members receive the newsletter six times/year and free admission to the Ward-Thomas Museum when open on the first Sunday of the month.

Gifts with a Niles' History connection.

Try one of the Niles Historical books.




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