Side A: Niles’ industrialist James Ward, Sr. built the house that shares his family’s name in 1862. The house has a low-pitched roof, wide, bracketed eaves, and rounded window and door openings, all characteristics of the Italianate style. John R. Thomas, another industrialist, acquired the house in 1887. His daughter Mary Ann Waddell, wife of Jacob Waddell, lived there until 1969. In 1978, the Thomas family deeded the property to the city of Niles and it became the home of the Niles Historical Society. The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.
Side B: James Ward, Sr. moved to Niles in 1842 and built the James Ward & Company iron rolling mill. Ward, Sr. was murdered in 1864 and James Ward, Jr. took over and expanded his late father’s business interests. Economic downturns in the 1870s and early 1880s forced the closing of Ward’s enterprises in Niles. John R. Thomas founded the Niles Firebrick Company in 1872. It manufactured bricks that lined furnaces used to smelt iron and steel and remained one of the city’s important industries until the 1960s.