The Giddings Wilkin House Museum
The oldest standing home in Brenham, the Giddings Wilkin House is important historically and architecturally. It offers a glimpse into the early lifestyle of Brenham’s most important citizen of the 19th century and the innovations he brought to the region.
Originally a two-room dog-trot with an upper sleeping loft, the house was enlarged and remodeled several times. It now has two floors and eight rooms and has been restored to depict life in the mid 1860’s.
The house is fully furnished with period and original Giddings and Wilkin family pieces, including a 3 piece Eastlake bedroom suite. Also on display are many photos, paintings, garments and other artifacts from the two families.
Of significant note is the rain-harvesting roof that was also a reservoir for storing water. Pipes delivered water from the roof to the cistern outside the kitchen. This early form of plumbing was unheard of in Texas at the time. The cistern, probably the first in Brenham, is still visible next to the home.
A brief history…
Jabez Deming “J.D.” Giddings built this house for his bride, Ann Tarver. This is the home where all their children were born, and they also raised the children of George and John James Giddings, J.D.’s brothers. The house was remodeled and enlarged several times to accommodate so many children.
A yellow fever epidemic struck Washington County in 1868, killing many citizens. After learning that the deadly disease was carried by mosquitoes, J.D. decided to remove his family from low-lying areas where mosquitoes live and breed.
After moving to the Giddings Stone Mansion, J.D. sold this home to the John Bush Wilkin family, who owned it until 1945. Ever since, the original home has been known as the Giddings Wilkin House.
Learn More of This History…
“The J.D. Giddings Legacy and Homes” (PDF) – feature article by Sharon Brass, September 2014.
Photos: Scott Hill, Brenham Portrait Gallery (brenhamportraitgallery.com)