John Quincy Adams Ward and Edgar Melville Ward, were two of seven children reared in this house owned by John Anderson Ward and his wife Eleanor. Both brothers would achieve artistic fame.
John Quincy Adams Ward demonstrated an early talent for sculpting, using blue clay from the family farm to create birds, animals, and buildings. At age 19, he left for New York City to study under Henry Kirke Brown, a renowned sculptor. In 1861, John completed the bronze statue "The Indian Hunter" for Central Park. Other notable works include: George Washington in front of the Federal Building in New York; Shakespeare in Central Park and President James Garfield in Washington DC. As a pioneer and leader in his field, he was recognized as the Dean of American Sculpture.
Edgar Melville Ward specialized in paint and was known for depicting craftsmen and realistic everyday life. He trained in Paris and is known for such works as The Blockmaker, The Gun Shop, and The Coppersmith. He went on to become the director of the National Academy of Design in New York City where he served for twenty years.
The Federal style house, in which they spent their childhood, was constructed from 1823-1825 on land inherited from Urbana's founder Colonel William Ward. The Colonel's Will stipulated that a local mason use 26,500 bricks and be paid $80.00. The farmstead consists of 172 acres in Champaign County.