Travel

Jim Thompson House

August 11, 2017

Tips and What to Expect:

  • In most significant rooms, where art pieces date close to a millennium, no photos are allowed.
  • Foot wears are not allowed. There are dedicated shoe cabinets secured by locks given to tourists before the start of the tour
  • Entrance fee is THB150 only and purchasing it from the house museum itself is no sweat.
  • Accessbile throught he MRT but you have to walk some 100 meters more. Unless you are armed with a map or are travelling in group (unlike me) best if you take the more expensive Grab or Uber.
  • Be aware of the Tuk Tuk Scam. Read about it here on my previous blog post.
  • Try the restaurant! C’mon, you’re already there. The customer service and the food is worth every baht.
  • If money is not an issue, a genuine silk scarf or any silk item, I should say is the one must-have souvenir from Jim Thompson House or from Bangkok itself. Prepare THB3500-5,000.
Facade of Jim Thomson House
Facade of Jim Thompson House located at Rama I Rd, Khwaeng Wang Mai, Khet Pathum Wan, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10330, Thailand

You are now in the Thai home of Jim Thompson, an American who was born in Greenville, Delaware, in 1906. A practicing architect prior to World War II, he volunteered for service in the U.S. Army, campaigned in Europe and was later sent to Asia. However, the war ended before he saw action. He was sent to Bangkok a short time later as a military officer and fell in love with Thailand. After leaving the service, he decided to return and live here permanently. The hand weaving of silk, a long-neglected cottage industry, captured Jim Thompson’s attention, and he devoted himself to reviving the craft. Highly gifted a s designer and textile colorist, he contributed substantially to the industry’s growth an dot the worldwide recognition accorded to Thai silk. He gained further renown through the construction of this house combining six teak buildings, which represented the best in traditional Thai architecture. Most of the houses were at least two centuries old and were easily dismantled and brought to the present site, some from as far away as the old capital of Ayudhya. In his quest for authenticity, Jim Thompson adhered to the customs of the early builders in most respects. The houses were elevated a full story above the ground a practical Thai precaution to avoid flooding during the rainy season. The roof tiles were fired in Ayudhya employing a design common centuries ago but rarely used today. The red paint on the outside walls is a preservative often found on many Thai buildings. The chandeliers were in the concession to modern convenience, but even they belong to a past era, having come from 18th and 19th century Bangkok palaces. All the traditional religious rituals were followed during construction of the house, and on the spring day on 1959, decreed as being auspicious by astrologers, Jim Thompson moved in The house and the art collection soon became such a point of interest that he decided to open his home to the public with proceeds donated to Thai charities and to projects directed to the preservation of Thailand’s rich cultural heritage. On march 26th 1967, Jim Thompson disappeared while visiting to the Cameron highlands on Malaysia. Not a single valid clue has turned up in the ensuing years as to what might have happened to him. His famous Thai house, however, remaining as a lasting reminder of his creative ability and his deep love of Thailand. In 1976, the Thai court appointed administrator of the property of Jim Thompson received permission from government ministries of the Kingdom of Thailand to legally established the James H,W. Thompson foundation. By virtue of its presence and the dictates of this charter, the foundation is committed to the preservation of Thailand rich artistic and cultural heritage. The foundation supports a wide variety of research, publication and seminar projects in furtherance of this aim.

Guided tours of Jim Thompson House
Guided tours of Jim Thompson House are separate for Thai and English-speaking guests.
Headless Buddha and Spirit House
Centuries-old headless Buddha found inside JTH. It cannot be kept at home as damaged Buddhas are believed to bring bad luck. They are however regarded as holy and is a sure historical treasure kept inside JTH Museum. On the right, a spirit house can is located right beside a river, as in other native houses in Thailand.
Spirit house offerings
Food and water are offered to spirit houses in Thailand and JTH is not an exemption.
vases displayed at Jim Thompson House
Ceramic vases – some with noticeable cracks – which also date to numerous centuries back are displayed inside the museum.
The stages of producing silk from cocoons to coloring.
The stages of producing silk from cocoons to coloring are displayed and demonstrated.
thai silk produced at Jim Thompson House
Thai silk is one of the reasons why Thailand is described as amazing!
In the movie, “The King and I”, the silk costumes used are reportedly crafted from the Jim Thompson company. JTH premise itself houses a store where authentic silk can be bought.
Jim Thompson Restaurant
The restaurant’s ambiance, food presentation, and customer service are worth the price. Definitely a must-try when in Bangkok especially when an hour of historical tour is done.
People. Money. Ghosts
Curiosity led me up these stairs to brave the interactive museum currently on display that time with the creepy theme of People, Money, and (well) Ghosts.
Jim Thompson House
Jim Thompson House as picturesque.

From the flyer attached to the receipt of the entrance fee, one can find the following bits of history:

You are now in the Thai home of Jim Thompson, an American who was born in Greenville, Delaware, in 1906. A practicing architect prior to World War II, he volunteered for service in the U.S. Army, campaigned in Europe and was later sent to Asia. However, the war ended before he saw action. He was sent to Bangkok a short time later as a military officer and fell in love with Thailand. After leaving the service, he decided to return and live here permanently.

The hand weaving of silk, a long-neglected cottage industry, captured Jim Thompson’s attention, and he devoted himself to reviving the craft. Highly gifted a s designer and textile colorist, he contributed substantially to the industry’s growth an dot the worldwide recognition accorded to Thai silk.

He gained further renown through the construction of this house combining six teak buildings, which represented the best in traditional Thai architecture. Most of the houses were at least two centuries old and were easily dismantled and brought to the present site, some from as far away as the old capital of Ayudhya.

In his quest for authenticity, Jim Thompson adhered to the customs of the early builders in most respects. The houses were elevated a full story above the ground a practical Thai precaution to avoid flooding during the rainy season. The roof tiles were fired in Ayudhya employing a design common centuries ago but rarely used today. The red paint on the outside walls is a preservative often found on many Thai buildings. The chandeliers were in the concession to modern convenience, but even they belong to a past era, having come from 18th and 19th century Bangkok palaces.

All the traditional religious rituals were followed during construction of the house, and on the spring day on 1959, decreed as being auspicious by astrologers, Jim Thompson moved in The house and the art collection soon became such a point of interest that he decided to open his home to the public with proceeds donated to Thai charities and to projects directed to the preservation of Thailand’s rich cultural heritage.

On march 26th 1967, Jim Thompson disappeared while visiting to the Cameron highlands on Malaysia. Not a single valid clue has turned up in the ensuing years as to what might have happened to him. His famous Thai house, however, remaining as a lasting reminder of his creative ability and his deep love of Thailand.

In 1976, the Thai court appointed administrator of the property of Jim Thompson received permission from government ministries of the Kingdom of Thailand to legally established the James H,W. Thompson foundation.

By virtue of its presence and the dictates of this charter, the foundation is committed to the preservation of Thailand rich artistic and cultural heritage.  The foundation supports a wide variety of research, publication and seminar projects in furtherance of this aim.

 

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