Bregant House

The house at 517 Fourth Street in Council Bluffs was built for Jean and Inez Bregant, who were respectively 45 and 42 inches tall.  The couple worked as sales and promotional representatives for the nationally-popular Woodward Candy factory.

     The interior of their home was specially designed to accommodate the physical stature of its occupants.  The fireplace mantle was to other people about waist-high.  The china cabinet, light switches, doorknobs, windows, bathtub, thermostat and other features were also scaled to meet their needs.

     To ensure the survival of this unique part of local history the house was purchased by Preserve Council Bluffs and has been refurbished.

About 1906, Jean and Inez operated the neighborhood store owned by Inez’ parents and located on North 8th Street in Council Bluffs.  On one occasion, while at the John G. Woodward and Company factory ordering candy for the store, Jean and Inez met John Woodward.  Sometime after, Mr. Woodward hired Jean and Inez to represent the company and by 1907, they were known as the “Candy Kids”.  For seven years, they traveled across many states, demonstrating and selling “Woodward Candy” and handing out postcards featuring their likeness, as advertising for John G. Woodward and Company.

In the summer of 1905, Jean Bregant and Inez Lewis were actors in the same Vaudeville troupe at Coney Island, New York.  The story goes… Jean invited Inez to dine with him one evening and they became engaged shortly thereafter.  They traveled to Council Bluffs and were married on Christmas Day, 1905; she was 17, he was 35.  They continued to work in Vaudeville as a couple, before returning to Council Bluffs in 1906.

In 1908, Jean and Inez purchased the parcel of land south of Inez’ parents home, and in 1911, the construction began on their home. The home was completed in 1912 and was custom built to fulfill their needs. Jean died in 1944 and Inez lived in the house another 25 years until her death in 1969.

The Bregant house is located on the east side of the street at 517 4th Street, Council Bluffs, Iowa.

The Bregant home was built as a one bedroom Craftsman bungalow.  It’s situated so far back on the lot, that passersby are likely to miss it.  It features a low-pitched roof and open porch; true to bungalow style. The home retains its original lapped wood siding and beveled, leaded glass windows. Notice that the fireplace chimney towers several feet above the home at 515 South 4th St. That home was once owned by Inez’ parents. The original back porch was altered at some time, giving the home a potential second bedroom.  This house is located so close to both of the neighboring houses that the eaves would literally touch if the houses were the same height.

As previously stated, the house was custom designed to fulfill the special needs of the Bregants; you will find that the light switches, door knobs and medicine cabinet are a bit lower than most homes.  The home’s walls are of finished plaster and were always covered in wallpaper; several layers were removed during the restoration.  All of the home’s wood floors have been refinished, and wallpapers have been replaced and the beveled glass windows and doors restored.  Both the living room and dining room feature picture molding just below the ceilings.  We do know that the Bregants had average-sized furniture to accommodate their guests.

The living room features original oak flooring and a fireplace mantel that would be waist-high for the average adult.  Flanking the fireplace are low, built-in benches.  The bench on the left camouflages the air return, while the right side’s seat opens and serves as a firewood storage box.  On either side of the chimney, there is a beveled, leaded glass window and the south wall of the living room features a beveled, leaded glass “piano window”.  On the front of the house, there are additional windows featuring both beveled, leaded glass and others with a decorative wood, in a similar style.