McFaddin-Ward House Reopens Following Completion of Major Electrical Upgrade
Beaumont, TX; Oct. 25, 2023 – The McFaddin-Ward House invites the community to “come see the historic home in a whole new light” following the culmination of an extensive electrical upgrade project which has spanned more than nine months and has seen the complete conversion from the house’s original knob and tube wiring to a state-of-the-art commercial electrical system.
“Prior to the upgrade, the 118-year-old house, built of heart pine and cypress wood, utilized the original knob and tube wiring from its construction more than a century ago, which posed a potential threat to the home’s integrity,” said Tony Chauveaux, McFaddin-Ward House executive director. “This was the largest restoration project undertaken by the museum since the roof was replaced in 2001, and it was vital to ensure the McFaddin-Ward House endures as one of Beaumont’s primary historical and educational resources for years to come. We assembled a remarkable team who performed exemplary work while preserving the integrity of the home.”
The museum brought in Oak Grove Restoration Company, experts in historical restoration headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, to lead the expansive project and direct the work of Beaumont’s Newtron Electrical Services, a division of the Newtron Group – one of the nation’s leading electrical construction companies, who was tasked with installing the new wiring; Crenshaw Lighting, an award-winning Virginia-based custom lighting and historic restoration lighting manufacturer, who was responsible for refurbishment and rewiring of the house’s heirloom light fixtures; and Rutledge Paint Company of Vidor who oversaw plaster repair work and painting.
“The McFaddin Ward House chose Oak Grove Restoration because it is the premier restoration company for national historical landmarks, national parks, and registered properties in America,” said Leslie Wilson, McFaddin-Ward House board president. “Using local contractors, Oak Grove kept to its high standard and produced another premier restoration.”
With decades of experience working at the McFaddin-Ward House including restoration and replacement of the slate, copper, and lead roof, extensive porch, and massive front columns, the team at Oak Grove understands the significance of the site and went above and beyond to preserve and protect the home during the course of the electrical work.
“We have a whole section when we bid a job, and it’s called protection, and when we work at the McFaddin-Ward House, it becomes extremely elaborate,” said Hank Handler, Oak Grove vice president. “Each job is different, and in this case one of the most important things we had to do was purify the air. We couldn’t let dust get into the building and [brought in] negative air machines. They had huge filters inside, so we knew we wouldn’t be introducing any dirt into the environment.”
Over nearly nine months of exemplary work, the teams from Oak Grove and Newtron Electrical Services successfully installed a state-of-the-art commercial electrical system powering all three floors of the house including porches, added six new master control switches in the Security Office that will allow museum employees to turn on power for all light fixtures and receptacles in the house by flipping just two switches per floor, and removed and reinstalled the house’s 98 heirloom light fixtures, which were shipped to Virginia for refurbishment by Crenshaw Lighting.
Restoration work at Crenshaw Lighting spanned three months and included replacing outdated parts with new lamping materials to match the originals, minor repairs and welding, and a thorough cleaning of every fixture and crystal adornment using liquid cleansing baths and sonic non-abrasive washing.
“We didn’t revise anything; anything replaced was replaced to match the original,” said Jesse Showalter, a craftsman at Crenshaw Lighting with 25 years of experience in custom lighting and restoring historical light fixtures. “It was time-consuming because there were so many historical fixtures. You can probably take a fixture down in 30 minutes, but the process of rewiring, cleaning, and putting in new parts will take three or four days per fixture, especially the big chandeliers.”
Free tours of the McFaddin-Ward House will resume Oct. 25, and visitors will enjoy an interpretation centered around a fall theme with some special Thanksgiving-themed items displayed from the collection, as well as some exciting new surprises, including the addition of LED lighting in every upper-cabinet doorway in the Butler’s Pantry and restoration of the Breakfast Room’s iconic bronze maiden-topped, alabaster fountain, which will be flowing for the first time in the museum’s history.
“It will be wonderful to open our doors again to welcome visitors – just in time for the holidays,” Wilson said. “One of our goals is to ensure this museum remains a beacon of tourism for Southeast Texas and a center for education and learning for our school children and adults alike, including teacher curriculums, adult lecture series and docent training. How thankful we are that the Mamie McFaddin Ward Heritage Foundation is in place to assure a solid future for this museum and community.”
The McFaddin-Ward House offers free docent-led and self-guided audio tours. Audio tours are available for the 1st floor of the Main House, Carriage House, and Gardens. Museum hours are Wednesday – Saturday, 9 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. and 12:30-2:30 p.m. on Sunday. Docent-led visits are available Wednesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. All tours begin at the Visitor Center at 1906 Calder Avenue in Beaumont. The museum encourages reservations, but walk-ins are always welcome. To make your reservation, call (409) 832-2134.
Built in 1905-1906 in the distinctive Beaux-Arts Colonial style, the McFaddin-Ward House reflects the lifestyle of the prominent family which lived in the house for 75 years. The museum features free tours, educational programming, year-round events, a carriage house, and gardens.