Individual Membership: $20.00
Family Membership: $30.00
Patron Membership: $50.00
Business Membership: $100.00
Lifetime Membership: $500.00
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5-Year Strategic Plan
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
guided tours may be arranged by contacting the Niles
or calling: 330.544.2143.
Calendar of Events
Story Walk in Stevens
The theme of the Story Walk in the month of May is “Niles
Audra Dull at the McKinley Memorial Library directs
this project for which the Niles Historical Society’s
Sandy Bilovesky provided pictures and dialogue of
early Niles.Take time to visit the park and enjoy a little
bit of history.
Sunday, May 16, 2021, 3:00 PM at the McKinley Memorial Museum.
High Tea catered by Quintealia’s Tea Parlor.
Call for reservations: Ami at 330-652-4273
Saturday, June 5, 2021 at 10:00 AM
Sunday, June 6, 2021
2:00 PM – 5:00 PM.
Last tour starts at 4:00 PM.
Protective Masks required.
In Memoriam: History
of Niles Street Names
Tuesday, May 18, 6 P.M.
In this virtual program, Ralph Tolbert of the Niles
Historical Society will delve into the history behind some
Niles street names. Many Niles natives gave their lives for
their country during World War I, and their city honored their
sacrifices by naming streets after them.
This is a virtual program, so you will need internet access
and an email address to participate. Call Audra Dull:
(330) 652-1704 ext. 3 or email email@example.com to register.
Presentation will be recorded and later available on YouTube.
Notes: May — June 2021
Spring is here and is absolutely beautiful
and welcome! As we pass from winter to spring and an improved
COVID the Niles Historical Society is ready to resume activities.
This issue of the Niles Register includes articles contributed
by our members. Lynda Ralston was intrigued by the
story of the Ahlstrom piano highlighted in the last issue
and presented the research on the history of the piano.
Joan Matheny approached the Society to present a story
of Ed Vargo’s achievements. Joan, Ed Vargo and
Bill Browning contributed the information for this article.
Dick Bullock was also instrumental in this endeavor.
The Society will gladly publish stories of the accomplishments
of current or former residents of Niles. Contact: Anna
Marie Beagle 330.719.5716 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Update on the Ward-Thomas
Currently the Society is working to improve the condition
of the Ward-Thomas property. The work crews of Niles City
have removed several dead trees from the property. Dave
Martin, our grounds keeper has been clearing away debris
from fallen branches. Volunteers are needed to help weed and
plant the flower beds.
The Westenfield Room, the old carriage house, which serves
as a meeting space is currently closed due to an extensive
mold issue. A bidding process with companies that perform
mold remediation is ongoing. The plan is to improve the space
with proper insulation, painting, flooring and temperature
– humidity control.
Also discussed at the April 17 meeting was performing necessary
repairs to the greenhouse. Caulking of the windows is a continuing
issue. Companies that perform this service will be sought
for bids on the project.
The barn roof is leaking. Mayor Steven Mientkiewcz
is investigating ways to repair the roof. The Society thanks
Mayor Mientkiewcz for his cooperation. By lease contract the
Society is responsible for maintaining the inside of the structures
and the flower beds. The City of Niles which owns the property
is responsible for maintaining the physical structures, trees
Advisory Committee sought:
It is necessary to form a committee to determine the direction
to take with the monies in the New Building Fund account that
was begun in 2011. The Society requires an improved space
for education, research and storage of the collection. At
this time there is not adequate space or temperature and humidity
control to accept any more physical donations.
There is a proposed rendition
for a facility that would be expensive to build and maintain.
The amount of money in this fund is not adequate to cover
the expense of this lofty plan. The Board of the Society seeks
input from members on how to best use the building fund monies
to provide an improved space.
I implore members to weigh in
on this discussion. Average attendance at meetings is approximately
ten members who should not be making this enormous decision
for an organization with over three hundred members.
Please contact Anna Marie Beagle at 330-719-5716 or email@example.com
for further discussion.
Thank you, Anna Marie Beagle,
the Buildings and Garden
The yearly membership drive is
underway with fees of $20 for individuals, $30 for families,
$50 for patron level, $100 for businesses and organizations
and $500 for life memberships. Memberships support the society's
programs and includes the bimonthly newsletter.
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. Click
on link below:
Try one of
the many Niles Historical books.
Books vary in price.
Sample of book content
Pictorial History of the Buildings of Niles Ohio'
pages and 400 high resolution photographs
your book call: Sandy at: 330.652.8329
Niles Historical Society Office at: 330.544.2143
or Email Us
$40.00 local pickup or $45.00 shipped
To save on shipping costs, all
of the listed books are available for purchase at any Ward-Thomas
Museum open house.
Shipping/Mailing costs are $5.00 for each book ordered.
Please make checks out to: Niles
Send your name, address and phone number, and check to cover
Niles Historical Society
P. O. 368
Niles, Ohio 44446