Heritage Society plans home tours DEK:Staff report

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The Heritage Society of Washington County will open its three historic homes for tours Sunday, April 9, 2017, from 1 p.m.-4 p.m., hosted by Heritage Belles in period dress.

On tour is the Giddings Wilkin House, thought to be the oldest standing house in Brenham, built in 1843 by J. D. Giddings for his bride, Ann Tarver. They had 8 children in the home and lived there until 1870. Originally a 2-room dog-run style, the house was expanded and now has 2 stories and 9 rooms. It has a reservoir roof, one of only three in Texas, and is furnished with original and period pieces to depict life in the mid 19th century. Historic clothing and artifacts are also on display.

Also on tour is the 1870 Giddings Stone Mansion, the second home built by J. D. and Ann Giddings on the highest point in Washington County. It is one of the finest examples of Greek Revival residential architecture in Texas. The house features 13-foot ceilings and has 10 rooms, 8 fireplaces, a cantilevered staircase and leaded glass windows. A separate kitchen and servant quarters are also included on the tour.

The Ross Carroll Bennett House was built in 1898 and is a 3-story Victorian fully furnished with original and period antiques. Built of cypress wood scored to simulate stone blocks, the house has 10 rooms, including 5 bedrooms and 3 baths. All the bedrooms have built-in closets, very unusual for a Victorian house. Also of note are the cupolas on all floors, original fretwork, rare reeded paneling and wainscoting in the downstairs hall, and pocket doors.

Tickets are $20 per person and children under 10 are $5. Tickets are available at all three sites or may be purchased in advance at www.giddingsstonemansion.com. The houses are open to the public for spring and fall tours and are wheelchair accessible. Private tours may also be arranged by contacting the Heritage Society at 979-836-1690.

Brenham/Washington County is located halfway between Houston and Austin on Hwy. 290 and is the home of Blue Bell ice cream, Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site – “Where Texas Became Texas,” more than 40 bed and breakfast inns, wineries, Brenham’s Main Street District and more.

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