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Brennan House Historic Home

Itís a moment in time -- a snapshot of early 19th century Louisville. Carefully gathered and preserved, the collection at the Brennan House Historic Home is significant and unique.

The 17-room, three-story Italianate home was built in 1868 and was occupied by the Brennans, an Irish immigrant family, from 1884 to 1969. It is the last remaining private residence in what is now Louisvilleís business district.

Richly furnished with a Victorian interior, the Brennan House has remained virtually untouched. The contents of the collection are entirely original to the Brennan family. Very few houses in the country have original collections of its caliber.

Among the first Louisvillians to have electric lights, the Brennansí collection includes a Tiffany Chrysanthemum Lamp signed by Louis Comfort Tiffany himself. Other items of interest include an 18th century Dutch clock by Rodderdam, a Louis Vitton steamer trunk, and a large collection of William Sadler prints.

The highlight of the collection is a massive Renaissance Revival bedroom suite, manufactured in Louisville by J.W. Davis in 1876. It is so significant that, according to Brennan House Interim Executive Director Marianne Zickhur, the Smithsonian has made repeated offers to obtain it.

In 1912 one of the Brennan children, John A.O. Brennan, added a doctorís office to the north side of the home, from which he worked. Medical instruments from 1912 to 1963 are displayed there.

Of the eight Brennan children, there were no heirs.

Today the house is owned by a non-profit organization and is a popular site for weddings. It is listed on the National Register of Historic places and was designated a Louisville Landmark in 1975.

Additional facts:

  • Thomas Brennan, the family patriarch, was recognized as a mechanical genius. Awarded 27 first prizes for his inventions, including two at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893, Thomas was the co-owner and vice president of Brennan & Co., SouthWestern Agricultural Works, manufacturing firm of farm machinery. Thomas Brennan also assisted in building the first locomotive engine for the L&N Railroad.
  • Thomasí wife (and mother of eight), Anna Bruce Brennan, was a direct descendant of Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland.
  • Albert Brennan was the treasurer for the New York Yankees baseball team from 1934-1950. In 1911 he was Jacob Ruppertís (then owner of the Yankees) personal assistant. There is a photograph of Albert at the Brennan House in which he sits alongside Babe Ruth.
  • Dr. John A.O. Brennan was also a physician for the jockeys at Churchill Downs.
  • Napoleon Bruce Brennan was so named because Anna Brennanís grandfather was in Napoleonís Army.
  • The prized J.W. Davis bedroom suite was purchased at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition.
  • Stained-glass family crests found throughout the Brennan House were by Louisville artist Bernard Alberts.
  • The law library includes many rare first-edition volumes.
  • There are a total of four Tiffany lamps in the Brennan House collection, but only one is signed by Louis Comfort Tiffany. The three others are thought to be done by his apprentices.
Program 222
Behind the scenes with Antiques Roadshow in Louisville, plus visits to the Louisville Antique Mall and the Brennan House Historic Home. (#222)