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The home popularly known as Ward Castle was one of the most unique structures in Westchester County when it was completed in 1876. It was built by William E. Ward, who was a partner in the Russell, Burdsall & Ward Bolt and Nut Company in Port Chester. Ward desired a home built of fire-resistant concrete, and he hired architect Robert Mook to design such a house for him. Construction, which Ward personally oversaw, began in 1873, and took three years to finish. Some area residents who were skeptical of Ward's idea originally called his home Ward's Folly. Once the structure proved to be stable, it became popularly known as Ward's Castle, and is believed to be the first residence in the United States to have been built entirely out of concrete. The home remained in the Ward family to 1972, and was the home of the Museum of Cartoon Art from 1977 to 1992. It is now a private residence.

  • Ward's Castle.
  • Ward's Castle in 1989.
  • Ward's Castle as the Museum of Cartoon Art in 1978.
  • Ward's Castle as the Museum of Cartoon Art in 1978.

William E. Ward (1821-1900), a native of Indiana and a member of the Society of Friends, moved to Port Chester in 1845. He was involved for a time in the manufacturing of wooden screws, and later became a partner in Russell, Burdsall & Ward Bolt and Nut Company. In 1873 Ward decided to build a home in what was then an inincorporated part of the Town of Rye, but is now part of the Village of Rye Brook. Ward hired architect Robert Mook of New York City to build a fireproof structure made only of reinforced Portland cement and iron "I" beams and rods. Wood was to be used only for decorative details as well as doors and window frames. The plan received a great deal of publicity, with skeptics referring to the proposed structure as "Ward's Folly." When the structure stood solid after it was completed in 1876, however, it became known as "Ward's Castle." The house also included a heating system and a self-contained water supply system.

William E. Ward died in 1900, and Ward's Castle was inherited by his son William Lukens Ward. The younger Ward served one term in Congress from 1897 to 1899, and headed the Republican Party in Westchester County from 1896 until his death in 1933. Although he never served in any public elected office other than his one term in Congress, Ward dominated county politics, and was one of the most powerful Republican county chairman in New York. Ward Pound Ridge Reservation, Westchester County's largest park, was named for him in 1938.

William Lukens Ward's daughters resided in Ward's Castle until 1972. The home was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976, and the following year it became home to the Museum of Cartoon Art. After the museum relocated to Boca Raton, Florida, in 1992, the house returned to its original role as a private residence.

"Death of William E. Ward." The Port Chester Journal (Port Chester, N.Y.) March 8th 1900, 1.

Gobrecht, L.E. National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form: William E. Ward House. June 15, 1976.

Williams, Gray. Picturing Our Past: National Register Sites in Westchester County. Elmsford, N.Y. Westchester County Historical Society, 2003.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Westchester County Historical Society. Photo by Gray Williams.

Westchester County Historical Society.

Westchester County Historical Society.

Westchester County Historical Society.