James Dunn Houston was born November 18, 1851, in DeWitt County, Texas. He was one of six children born to James Andrew Dunn and Julia A. Harris Houston, native Mississippians. James Dunn came to Gonzales County in 1864. When he was eighteen years old he engaged in the cattle business and drove his herds north to Kansas for pasturage. On December 2, 1873, he married Dora Chenault, daughter of Felix Chenault of Tennessee and Eliza Polk Chenault of Texas.
It took Dunn several years to build his home at 619 St. Lawrence Street. Construction on the red brick structure was begun in 1895 and completed in 1898. The Queen Anne Victorian style house has fifteen main rooms, five bathrooms and several halls and walkways. It has an indoor conservatory and each of the main rooms has its own individually designed fireplace. The floors throughout the first story are oak hardwood with an original parquet pattern. Light fixtures in the family dining room, banquet room, living room and foyer hang from elaborately carved medallions matching the molding around the rooms. Two wall murals painted on canvas, purchased in New Orleans when the house was built, still grace the foyer.