Side A: John Anderson Ward had this Federal style house constructed from 1823-1825 on land inherited from his father, Urbana’s founder Colonel William Ward. The Colonel’s will stipulated that a local mason use 26,500 bricks to build the house and be paid $80.00. The original house is thought to have had four rooms, two rooms each on the first and second floors and both divided by central hallways. John and his wife Eleanor Ward reared seven children in the house, two of whom became nationally recognized artists, John Quincy Adams Ward and Edgar Melville Ward. The farmstead, consisting of 172 acres, was also the site of a huge feast held in honor of General William Henry Harrison’s visit to Champaign County during his 1840 presidential campaign. Twelve 300 foot-long tables were spread across the lawn where thousands of people from the surrounding countryside dined on barbecued beef and lamb and drank barrels of cider.
Side B: Two of John Anderson Ward’s sons, John Quincy Adams and Edgar Melville, were born and reared here and both achieved artistic fame. John demonstrated an early talent for sculpting, using blue modeling clay from the family farm to create birds, animals, and buildings. At age 19 he left for New York City to study under Henry Kirke Brown, a renowned sculptor, and in 1861 completed the bronze statue The Indian Hunter for the city’s Central Park. As a pioneer and leader in his field, he was recognized as the Dean of American Sculpture. Edgar specialized in paint and was known for depicting craftsmen and realistic everyday life. He trained in Paris at the Ecole des Beaux and is known for such works as Locksmith, Lace-Makers, Motherly Care, and Brittany Washerwomen. He went on to become the director of the National Academy of Design in New York City where he served for twenty years.
Sponsors: Guild Galleries Interiors, Champaign County Bicentennial Historical Marker Committee, and The Ohio Historical Society