Standing Tall in Beaumont Since 1906, Home’s Large Columns Being Restored
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With scaffolding in place to support the two-story portico, the four columns were removed on Aug. 6. Replacement shafts, milled from old-growth cypress, will be installed along with newly cast bases and capitals.
McFaddin land grant, behind the main house, on North Street. Mauer, a La Grange native, was one of several architects attracted to Beaumont in the boom years following the discovery of oil at Spindletop in 1901, south of Beaumont. Anthony Lucas brought in the Spindletop strike on land leased from Mrs. Averill’s brother William Perry Herring McFaddin (1856-1935) and others. When the house was nearly completed in 1906, it was sold to Mrs. Averill’s brother, W.P.H and his wife Ida Caldwell McFaddin (1872-1950). They and their children, Mamie, Perry Jr., and James Caldwell, moved in early 1907. In 1919 Mamie married Carroll Ward, and the newlyweds took residence in the house. The house was entered into the National Register of Historic Places in 1971 and was designated a Texas State Historic Landmark in 1976. Opened as a house museum in 1986, it is one of the last Beaux Arts-styled houses open to the public and is one of the few house museums in which the home’s original furnishings are intact and on display where the owners intended. G e r a l d
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Photos by Donda Thomasson courtesy McFaddin-Ward House Museum
The latest stage in the ongoing restoration of the 1906 McFaddin-Ward House in Beaumont will return the Beaux Arts Colonial Revival structure’s four 22-foot-tall Ionic columns of the front porch to their original condition. A century of exposure to the tropical Gulf Coast climate has rusted iron anchors and rotted cypress column, capital, and base components. Oak Grove Restoration Company of Laytonsville, Maryland, is directing the work. Oak Grove project manager Hank Handler explains that most of the original material in the colossal columns will be kept and new parts will be milled from reclaimed old-growth cypress, preferably “river-recovered” logs harvested more than 100 years ago and only recently extracted from river bottoms where they had settled during transport to mills. Handler said the original two-story columns were manufactured circa 1906 using 2,000- to 3,000-year-old timbers. A dendrochronology test on a selected replacement timber, he said, indicates that the log was milled in 1853 and is estimated to be about 3,500 years old. Handler said molds will be made from a “good” capital to make plaster replicas for those too deteriorated to repair. The current restoration campaign began in 2002 with replacement of the roof and continb e a u m o n t
ued with a 2007 project to restore the adjacent carriage house. Oak Grove also accomplished those projects. The house and its contents were first restored in 1983-1986 after its last resident Mamie McFaddin Ward (1895-1982) provided for the home to be transformed into a museum. She established the Mamie McFaddin Ward Heritage Foundation to preserve the house and its original furnishings and to continue her charitable works. Her grandfather, William McFaddin (1819-1897), was granted land in southeast Texas for his service at the Battle of San Jacinto, and he acquired adjacent land from the heirs of Noah Tevis, one of Beaumont’s first landowners. He built a home in 1859 on the former Tevis property for his family of nine children. McFaddin expanded his land holdings into a cattle empire, and several generations of McFaddins were prosperous in cattle, rice farming, milling, and later, in oil. McFaddin’s daughter Di (1851-1908) and her husband W.C. Averill were living in the original family homestead when it burned in 1905, escaping with only their bed clothes and few items. Determined to build a new home as wellappointed as their previous one, the Averills hired local Beaumont architect Henry Conrad Mauer (1873-1939) to design a grand house with modern comforts on McFaddin Avenue. A befitting carriage house was located on the original
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