THE HOUSE THAT YELLOW FEVER BUILT
Jabez Demming Giddings, a Brenham founding father, arrived in a new Republic of Texas in 1838 to claim land belonging to his brother, mortally wounded in the Battle of San Jacinto. For the next four decades until his death in 1878, Giddings rose in both civic stature and economic prosperity. Giddings earned a law degree, married the sister of the Texas attorney general, established one of the state’s first banks, encouraged the development of Washington County through both civil and financial support, served in the Texas legislature, and became one of the richest men in Texas. In 1868, a yellow fever epidemic spread across the region, compelling Giddings to move his family away from the mosquito breeding habitat in the wetter lowlands of the county (the mosquito serves as vector for the viral disease) and the to the dryer and highest point in Washington County. Here, Giddings built an impressive mansion, known today as the Giddings Stone Mansion. This Recorded Texas Historic Landmark is owned and operated by the Heritage Society of Washington County and has been carefully conserved. The mansion survives as one of the state’s finest examples of 19th century transitional Greek Revival, a popular style choice of the mid-1800’s that appropriated Classic Greek features (including impressive columns) together with early Victorian, the rising design of the late 1800’s, evident in the renovations made prior to the turn of the century. The mansion is constructed of massive brick walls, stacked three and four courses deep, with stone lintels and window sills. The mansion interior is comprised of eleven rooms and two galleries, one on each floor, that cross the entire length of the mansion. A walnut staircase, fabricated in St. Louis and then shipped to Brenham, highlights finished pine floors and eight fireplaces with carved walnut mantels. J.D. Giddings and his wife lived in the house until their deaths, leaving the mansion to family members who continued to occupy the home for four generations. A separate structure was built to accommodate a kitchen (many early grand homes placed the kitchen outside the main structure to avoid uncontrollable fires), the laundry, and servants’ quarters (Giddings was a slave owner until the Civil War). Today, the Giddings Stone Mansion, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, hosts guided tours (by appointment only) and is available for private weddings and family celebrations.
Giddings Stone Mansion
Contact the property well in advance if you would like a private tour.
Group tours of 10 or more are given Monday-Friday.