Famous historic homes in every state
The United States traditionally has been referred to as a "melting pot," a trope that has garnered criticism in recent years for promoting acculturation and failing to celebrate the diversity of the population. Some have suggested "salad bowl" as a more accurate metaphor, and it is one that can equally be applied to the nation's domestic architecture, which is perhaps best characterized by a rugged individualism as opposed to the hybridization of disparate architectural elements. As Maya Angelou perceptively observed, "the ache for home lives in all of us," a phrase that has meant very different things to different people.
Modest or palatial, there is no shortage of noteworthy homes in the U.S. Log cabins constructed by industrious pioneers have dotted the landscape alongside traditional Native American dwellings ever since immigrant Swedes introduced them to the New World in 1638. The unprecedented personal fortunes amassed by the so-called "Robber Barons" at the close of the 19th century gave way to the construction of a staggering number of Gilded Age estates.
The ravages of time spared neither the sumptuous nor the humble. Stately mansions, often prohibitively costly to maintain in the modern era, were frequently neglected; simple structures were forgotten, discarded by their owners, and damaged by natural elements. However, the tireless efforts of architectural preservationists and local historical societies have saved many of these homes from demolition, leading to their inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places and thereby safeguarding them for future generations.
Safety.com created this state-specific list of significant homes from architectural, government, and various news sites. Today, due to COVID-19, many historic house museums are closed to the public. Scroll through the list to visit architect Frank Lloyd Wright's masterwork, newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst's castle, and one of the last surviving sod homes in the Great Plains—without leaving the comfort of your own home.
Alabama: Ivy Green, Tuscumbia
Ivy Green, an unassuming white clapboard house built in 1820, was the birthplace and childhood home of disabled rights activist Helen Keller. The iconic water pump, where the deaf and blind Keller first learned to communicate with her devoted teacher, Anne Sullivan, still stands on the site, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1954.
Alaska: Oscar Anderson House, Anchorage
Shortly after his arrival in Anchorage in 1915, entrepreneur and businessman Oscar Anderson constructed this one-and-one-half story bungalow. Surrounded by tents and one-room log cabins in what was then known as Ship Creek, this modest, timber-framed home was the height of luxury. Currently a museum, the Oscar Anderson House was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.
Arizona: Taliesin West, Scottsdale
Legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright may have cut his teeth in the Midwest, but he was drawn to the dramatic landscape and endless sunshine of the American West in his later years. To escape the brutal cold of winters at his home base of Taliesin in Wisconsin, he migrated his school to Scottsdale during the winter months and called the residence Taliesin West. Built of local stone, redwood, and cement, the compound remains open to the public despite the closing of the School of Architecture earlier this year.
Arkansas: Quigley's Castle
Albert Quigley promised his wife a new house built from the timber felled on their own property. When he failed to deliver, Elise Quigley—with the help of her five children—razed the wooden shack they called home. Construction on the new dwelling, designed by Elise, began in 1943. Encrusted with stones, fossils, crystals, and arrowheads, Quigley's Castle is a popular destination for visitors to the Ozarks.
California: Hearst Castle, San Simeon
Designed by Julia Morgan, Hearst Castle was commissioned by newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst in 1914. The 60,000 square foot Mediterranean Revival masterpiece hovers on a hilltop a quarter-mile from the Pacific Ocean and boasts 164 luxuriously decorated rooms. Hearst and his long-time mistress, Marion Davies, hosted lavish parties at the estate, attended by Hollywood's glitterati. The house and surrounding grounds are now part of the California State Parks system.
Colorado: Molly Brown House, Denver
Designed by prominent architect William Lang for silver magnate Isaac Large and his wife Mary, this imposing hybrid Queen Anne/Romanesque Revival home was sold to J.J. and Margaret Brown in 1894. Dubbed the "Unsinkable Molly Brown" by the popular press after surviving the Titanic disaster, the socialite's vivid account of the tragedy gripped the nation and catapulted her to national attention. In 1970, a grassroots group known as Historic Denver saved the neglected edifice from the wrecking ball, restoring the home to its original glory.
Connecticut: Mark Twain House, Hartford
American satirist Samuel Clemens—better known as Mark Twain—commissioned Edward Tuckerman Potter to design his American High Gothic home in 1873. A masterpiece of the aesthetic movement, the interior surfaces of the home were decorated by Louis Comfort Tiffany. Twain wrote some of his best-known works in the house, including "Tom Sawyer" and "Huckleberry Finn." Sadly, the Clemens family was forced to abandon their happy home due to financial troubles and the premature death of daughter Susy in 1896.
Delaware: Nemours, Wilmington
American industrialist Alfred I. DuPont commissioned Nemours in 1907 as a wedding gift for his second wife, Alicia. Christened Nemours in honor of the DuPont family's ancestral homeland, the magnificent French Neoclassical Revival home boasts 77 rooms set on 300 manicured acres. The estate opened to the public after DuPont's death and received a $39 million facelift in 2005.
Florida: Ernest Hemingway Home, Old Town Key West
Ernest Hemingway wrote some of his best-known works, including "Death in the Afternoon" and "To Have and Have Not" in the 1851 Spanish Colonial home he shared with his second wife, Pauline Pfeiffer. The couple spent several years restoring the dilapidated house, adding Key West's first in-ground pool in 1937.
Georgia: Mercer House, Savannah
Originally built for Confederate General Hugh W. Mercer, antique dealer Jim Williams purchased the stately eclectic home at 429 Bull Street in 1969. Twelve years later, Williams was accused of murdering a man in the study. The lurid crime inspired John Berendt's bestselling book, "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil," which spawned a film directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Kevin Spacey. A popular tourist spot, Mercer House is currently owned by William's sister and is open for public tours.