Jim Thompson House

Jim Thompson House
Jim Thompson House

Hugging the Saen Sab Canal, the beautiful teakwood house stands at the end of a nondescript lane in central Bangkok, encompassed by a ‘jungle landscape’ of tropical trees and shrubs. Once it was home to Thailand’s most famous American resident, adventurer, entrepreneur and art collector James H W Thompson, who as founder of the now legendary Thai silk company named after him, is credited with reviving Thai silk – a dying cottage industry at the time – and introducing it to fashion capitals of the world.

His sprawling residence, in reality a complex of six traditional Thai-style teak houses, was acquired by him in different parts of Thailand and then transported by barge to Bangkok; the oldest house, now the living room, is 175 years old, while the rest range between 75-150 years.

Jim Thompson House

Architecturally, they are in the simple style of Thai homes of the time, broader at the base and slightly tapered at the top, increasing the stability of the house and aiding ventilation. And like any traditional house no nails were used in the construction. Instead the wall sections were hung together on the wooden frames using only wooden joints and pegs. It took skilled Thai craftsmen 11 months to ensure that seamless interconnectivity transformed the six separate entities into the sum total of an elegant dwelling that sits elevated in the lush garden Thompson fondly referred to as his “jungle”.

Today, with Thompson’s eclectic collection of art, artefacts and antiques within, it echoes his love affair with Southeast Asian, and in particular Thailand’s, art and cultural heritage, making it a key pit stop on the tourist map.



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