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 330.544.2143

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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


The Niles Historical Society will be hosting an author talk and book signing on Wednesday May 24 at 7:00 PM at the Ward-Thomas Museum, 503 Brown St. in Niles.

Writer Larry Brough will discuss his book The Electric Pullman: A History of the Niles Car & Manufacturing Company. This car company produced railway cars in Niles from 1901 until 1917.

Mr. Brough was born in Newark, Ohio and grew up there and in Cleveland. He is a graduate of Case Institute of Technology (now Case Western Reserve University) and Xavier University in Cincinnati. He has authored three published books, two on electric interurban car builders and an award winning one on the Great Lakes automobile carriers of the early 20th century. He currently resides with his wife, Shirley, in Newark.

Railroad enthusiasts and local historians can purchase his book for $30.00 at the event. There will be a $5.00 donation and light refreshments will be served.


Erie Street view of the Niles Car & Manufacturing Company, makers of one of the finest lines of plush electric cars of the area.

Erie Street view of the Niles Car & Manufacturing Company, makers of one of the finest lines of plush electric cars of the area. This building was located on the block bounded by Erie, South Cedar, Allison Avenue and Mason Street. the plant operated for 16 years before being converted to truck chassis production.PO1.1434

2017 Niles Historical Society Officers

President — Anna Marie Beagle
Vice-President — Dave Martin
Treasurer — Patty Burgess-Fisher
Secretary — MaryAnn McMahon
Corresponding Secretary — Ruth Van Huffel

Sandy Bilovesky, Fremont Camerino, Nancy Malone

Front: Sandy Bilovesky, Freemont Camerino, Nancy Malone

Front: Sandy Bilovesky, Fremont Camerino, Nancy Malone
Back: Dave Martin, Patty Burgess-Fisher, Anna Marie Beagle, MaryAnn McMahon


Niles Historical Society

2017 Scheduled Meetings/Events

May 5, 2017

Meeting Cancelled

Open House Tours
May 6, 2017, 2-5pm

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