James Moreau Brown built Ashton Villa in 1859 with the help of a brick mason slave named Aleck. A statue commemorates Union Gen. Gordon Granger, whose forces occupied Galveston at the end of the Civil War. Granger is credited with ordering public readings of the Emancipation Proclamation on June 19, 1865, officially ending the practice of slavery in Texas nearly two and a half years after President Lincoln gave the order and just two months after the president's death. The anniversary of Granger's announcement has grown into the international celebration of emancipation known as Juneteenth. Ashton Villa, operated by the Galveston Historical Foundation, is now the site of Galveston's annual Juneteenth celebration, which includes a parade down Martin Luther King Boulevard. The Galveston Island Visitor Center is located in the carriage house of Ashton Villa.
Ashton Villa is not open to the public for tours. The house is available for rentals.