The Bregant House, sometimes known as “The Little Peoples’ House” has been restored and is now open for tours in Council Bluffs.
Location: 517 4th Street, Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Who lived in this house?
It is a custom-built home, sized specifically for Jean and Inez Bregant back in 1912. Jean was 46” tall and his wife Inez was 42”. Jean was born in Austria and worked as a singing comedian in Europe before coming to the US in 1904. Inez was born in Denver, Colorado, but grew up in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Jean and Inez met during the summer of 1905 when they were both actors in “Midget City” in Coney Island, New York. At the time, Inez was 17 and Jean was 35. They quickly engaged and while traveling back to see her parents, they were married in Council Bluffs, Iowa on Christmas Day in 1905.
They returned to their Vaudeville troupe for a few years, before returning to Council Bluffs and purchasing the land where the home would be built.
It’s not a children’s playhouse
It’s a one-bedroom Craftsman bungalow that sits on the back of a lot. But don’t mistake it for a children’s playhouse, it was built specifically to meet the needs of Jean and Inez. Many of the features such as the light switches, fireplace, doorknobs, etc were scaled for the couple. Overall, there are only 5 rooms: a living room that’s 15 by 12 feet, a dining room 15 by 11 feet, then a bedroom, a kitchen, and a bathroom.
Another unique item to the Bregant House – the clawfoot bathtub that measures only 36 inches long, 19 inches wide, and 19 inches deep. When Inez wintered in Florida, she rented out the house. It’s reported that one of the winter tenants got stuck in the tub for 60 hours and had to wait for help to get out. The original tub is still in the bathroom and can be seen during the tour.
Is everything in the Bregant House small?
No. In fact, Inez answered this question directly in a 1959 interview, “Some people think I furnish my house entirely with small furniture. I don’t. It would be foolish. I do quite a bit of entertaining, and all my friends are of ‘normal’ size.”
What did the Bregants do for a living once they moved to Council Bluffs?
Jean and Inez ran a grocery store in Council Bluffs. One day they visited a local candy factory to restock items for their store. When they happened to meet the owner, John Woodward, he was impressed with the Bregants and offered them a new career promoting his products. The Bregants were known as the ”Candy Kids” and were featured in nationwide advertisements for Woodward Candy. They were also referred to as the “smallest salespeople in the world” as they frequently traveled and made appearances for Woodward.
A few other interesting notes on the Bregant family….
- They drove around Council Bluffs in an adapted 1928 Buick Victoria
- When they retired, they gifted $42,000 to the city of Council Bluffs which was used to build a carillon in Fairmount Park.
- An anonymous couple donated $50,000 — $45,000 to purchase the house and $5,000 for renovation. It’s currency owned and managed by Preserve Council Bluffs.
How can you tour the Bregant House in Council Bluffs, Iowa?
Thirty-minute tours are typically available on the weekends and require reservations, which cost $5. Tickets can be purchased online at: https://fareharbor.com/embeds/book/preservecouncilbluffs/items/