Located in the old residential neighborhood of Lexington, the Waddell House is uniquely different from the previous Greek Revival I-Houses of the tour. Originally constructed in the 1840s as the pastoral home for the First Baptist Church (the oldest church in Lexington), William Bradford Waddell acquired the home by trading for stock in the Baptist Female College in Lexington in 1869. The original two-story home is made of brick, with fourteen-inch-thick walls laid in common bond. The first floor consists of a foyer, parlor, dining room, and bath. The second floor consists of two bedrooms and a bathroom. The kitchen, living room, and utility room on the first floor and an additional bedroom and bath on the second were added later. The gabled original façade of the house is certainly unique, suggesting that many styles and periods were included in the design. The clustered chimney, the vergeboards (scalloped with pendants), and the arched and molded lintels of stone and plaster all bring a distinct character to this home. Today, Waddell House is one of the most well-preserved Victorian homes in Lexington.
The Waddell family were prominent members of Lexington. William Bradford Waddell, born in Virginia, was a direct descendant of the first settlers of the Old Dominion. He partnerned with one of the most profitable freight businesses in the West, under the firm of Russell, Majors & Waddell. Established in 1855, the firm contracted with the War Department to ship supplies West. Despite his tendencies to be “deliberate, conservative, slow to make decisions, and unwilling to take long changes” (Settle, 14-15), the firm suffered financial setbacks due to the loss of freight during the Mormon Wars of 1857 and overcommitment to War Department contracts. Later, Waddell became involved in another scheme to transport goods to the West by joining Russell’s Pony Express venture, which originated in St. Joseph, Missouri.
William Bradford Waddell was an active member in Lafayette County and the Lexington community. Russell, Majors & Waddell employed numerous individuals in their freight business including notable community figures such as W. Boon Major and Ferdinand D. Smith. Waddell served on the standing committee of the Lexington Fire Company, organized the Lexington Mutual Fire and Marine Insurance Company, and served as a trustee of the Female Collegiate Institute or Baptist Female College, which was founded in 1851. William Bradford Waddell died in 1872.
William Bradford Waddell’s eldest son, John W. Waddell, continued to serve in leadership roles in Lexington. After dabbling in the freight and commodities business, John W. Waddell acquired a 530-acre farm near Lexington where he raised livestock. He branched out into the banking industry, serving as first Director of the Farmers’ Bank of Missouri and later as president of the Lexington Savings Bank. John W. Waddell became a trustee of William Jewell College.
The ownership of the Waddell House transferred to the second son, Robert Fielding Waddell, who took ownership of the home in 1882 upon the death of his mother, Susan Byram Waddell.