Ward Place was originally called “North Center Street.” During most of the 19th century, the large American Hotel was situated on the south corner of Ward and Main. At that time, the street was largely undeveloped – little more than a lane. The barns and sheds belonging to the Hotel stretched along the south side and there were three buildings on the north side. The lot at 15 Ward Place was an "engine house” (fire house), and at 11 Ward Place was a carriage shop. On the north side of the street, or land as it was then, J.B. Hall lived on the corner of Main with a tenant house to the east. A carriage shop was located at 11 Ward Place and an engine house at 13 Ward Place. A disastrous fire in 1885 destroyed the American Hotel; its barns were torn down and lots were sold for building purposes.
The street name was changed to Ward Place late in the 19th century after Dr. Ferdinand Ward and his wife Jane who resided on the southwest corner of the intersection of Ward Place and Second Street. Dr. Ward was a long time minister of the Central Presbyterian Church.