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 as a designer and textile colorist, he contributed substantially to the industry's growth and to the worldwide recognition accorded to Thai silk. He gained further known through the construction of this house combining six teak buildings which represented the best of 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, and 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 commonly found on many old Thai buildings. The chandeliers were electrified as a 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 procedures were followed during construction of the house, and on a date in the spring of 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 it to the public with proceeds donated to Thai charities and to projects directed at the preservation of Thailand's rich cultural heritage.
On March 27th 1967, Jim Thompson disappeared while on a visit to the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia. Not a single clue has turned up in the ensuing years as to what might have happened to him. His famous Thai house, however, remains as a lasting reminder of his creative ability and his deep love of Thailand. In 1976, the Thai Court appointed administrator for the property of Jim Thompson received permission from government ministries of the Kingdom of Thailand to legally establish the James H W Thompson Foundation.
By virtue of its presence and the dictates of its charter the Foundation is committed to the preservation of Thailand's rich artistic and cultural heritage. The foundation supports a wide variety of research, publication and seminar projects in furtherance of this aim. All these activities require funds, and the James H W Thompson Foundation welcomes any contributions.
Last tour begins at 4:30 PM
Thai House Museum
opposite The National Stadium
6 Soi Kaseman 2
Rama I Road, Bangkok
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