Iconic buildings from every state
Iconic buildings from every state
Each state in the country has bragging rights to iconic buildings, many often highlighting its past and present.
From the colonial homesteads of New England to the frontier towns of the West, America's buildings trace the country's history, regional differences, and the endurwwing influence of the people who made the continent their home long before the arrival of the Europeans.
New York City's skyscrapers celebrated the drive of its commercial heart. The mansions along the Atlantic seaboard; in Newport, Rhode Island; and Miami drew inspiration from French chateaus. Museums gathered art collections unique to America and became attractions themselves. Other museums in the Midwest honored the region's pioneering settlers and the farms they created.
A house in Alaska is a reminder that Russia was once a colonial power in North America, while a pueblo in the Southwest remains a living community. A high school in Little Rock, Arkansas, recalls the determined group of Black teenagers willing to put their safety at risk to integrate the building and get an education alongside their white contemporaries.
Stacker compiled this list of iconic buildings from historical and government records and news articles. Some are grand—a statehouse modeled on a Roman temple and a skyscraper reminiscent of the Washington Monument. Others are modest, like a tiny church in the woods, or deserted, like a hotel in a ghost town emptied when the gold rush ended.
You'll find people's homes, national monuments, corporate headquarters, theaters and museums, and government centers in the mix. Some of the buildings are in cities; others in the country. Some represent the levers of power; others, ordinary people. Some serve as memorials, while others are whimsical.
Take a look through the list and find the building that salutes your state.
Alabama: Ivy Green
Ivy Green, the childhood home of Helen Keller, is on 640 acres in Tuscumbia, Alabama. The main house, a white clapboard, was built by her grandparents in 1820. Nearby there is a birthplace cottage, which is where Keller later lived with her teacher Anne Sullivan. Between the two buildings is the well where Keller, who was deaf and blind, made her breakthrough in communicating with Sullivan.
Alaska: Russian Bishop's House
The Russian Bishop's House in Sitka, Alaska, is a rare example of Russian colonial architecture in North America. Dating to 1842, toward the end of Russia's colonization of the Pacific Coast, it was the center of a diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church. The National Park Service took over the house in 1973 and restored it.
Arizona: Arizona Biltmore
The Arizona Biltmore, which opened in 1929 in Phoenix, was designed by Albert Chase McArthur, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright, who for a short time collaborated on the project. The hotel incorporates the "Biltmore Block" made of various types of stones, such as limestone and granite, and inspired by either palm tree trunks or musical notes. Its Catalina Pool is reported to have been a favorite of Marilyn Monroe.
Arkansas: Little Rock Central High School
Nine Black students desegregated the high school in 1957 after the Supreme Court ruled that segregated schools were illegal. The Little Rock Nine, as they became known, had to be escorted by local police (and later, federal troops) after they were initially prevented entry by an angry mob and the state's National Guard. Photographs of the students arriving at the high school under heavy guard were seen around the country in Life magazine. This is the country's only high school in operation that has been designated a National Historic Site.
California: The Getty Center
Designed by architect Richard Meier, the Getty Center looks over Los Angeles and the Pacific Ocean from the Santa Monica Mountains. Its 1.2 million square feet of beige-colored travertine stone came from Italy and its central garden changes with the seasons. The center, opened in 1997, houses the permanent collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum, including European paintings, illuminated manuscripts, sculpture, and American and international photography.
Colorado: The Brown Palace Hotel
The Brown Palace Hotel, opened in 1892 in Denver, features 26 stone-carved medallions on its exterior that show Colorado's animals. Commissioned by Henry Cordes Brown, a real estate developer, and designed by architect Frank E. Edbrooke, it was built of red granite from Colorado and sandstone from Arizona in the Italian Renaissance style. Inside, there is onyx from Mexico and intricate iron grillwork. It was the second fireproof building in the country.
Connecticut: The Glass House
Constructed in 1949 by architect Philip Johnson, overlooking a pond in New Canaan, Connecticut, the Glass House lives up to its name: exterior walls of glass and no interior walls. It brought the international style and its use of steel, glass, and concrete to American houses. Today, it is owned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and is part of a 49-acre campus with 13 other structures.
Delaware: Nemours Mansion
Alfred I. du Pont had the 47,000-square-foot mansion Nemours Mansion built for his second wife, Alicia, on 200-plus acres in Wilmington, Delaware. Completed in 1910, it was designed in a late 18th-century French style by Carrère and Hastings, a New York architectural firm. The name has its roots in the family's history; du Pont's great-great-grandfather represented the French town as a French Estates General member.
Florida: Fontainebleau Miami Beach
The Fontainebleau Miami Beach sits on 22 acres of oceanfront in Florida, designed for hotelier Ben Novack by architect Morris Lapidus. It opened in 1954 in the heart of Millionaire's Row with a 17,000-square-foot lobby, its signature "Stairway to Nowhere," six acres of gardens inspired by Versailles, and attracted such celebrities as Elvis Presley and Lucille Ball.
Georgia: Fox Theatre
Originally intended to be the headquarters for the Shriners organization in Atlanta, the Fox Theatre was inspired by the Alhambra in Spain and the Temple of Karnak in Egypt. Its exterior boasted minarets and arches, with gold leaf flourishes and trompe l'oeil inside. But before it was completed, "The Fabulous Fox" became too expensive for the Shriners. The organization leased the auditorium to William Fox, who was building theaters across the country for the new movies capturing Americans' imaginations. Fox Theatre opened on Christmas Day in 1929, showing "Steamboat Willie," Walt Disney's first Mickey Mouse cartoon. It houses the second-largest theater organ in the world, a Möller organ called "Mighty Mo."
Hawaii: Iolani Palace
The only royal palace in the United States, the current Iolani Palace in Honolulu was the residence of Hawaiian monarchs. Its cornerstone was laid in 1879. The palace—designed with electric lights, indoor plumbing, and a telephone—was home to the last ruling monarchs of Hawaii: King Kalakaua and his sister Queen Liliʻuokalani, who succeeded him when he died in 1891. She was overthrown and then imprisoned for nearly eight months in the palace. Its style is uniquely Hawaiian and is referred to as American Florentine.
Idaho: Mission of the Sacred Heart
Built by the Jesuits and Coeur d'Alene tribal members in the early 1850s, Cataldo's Mission of the Sacred Heart is the oldest building in Idaho, as well as one of the most fascinating. The interior is a triumph of folk art, boasting wood altars painted to mimic Italian marble and chandeliers wrought from tin cans. A virtual time capsule, the church has managed to avoid renovations throughout the years and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Illinois: Aqua Tower
A recent addition to the Chicago skyline, the Aqua skyscraper is notable for its wavelike balconies meant to offer views of the city's landmarks around corners and through the gaps between existing buildings. Completed in 2009, it stands at 876 feet and has 82 stories. Designed by the Studio Gang, it encompasses a hotel, apartments, condominiums, and one of Chicago's largest green roofs.
Indiana: West Baden Springs Hotel
The West Baden Springs Hotel opened in French Lick, Indiana, in 1902, replacing a smaller one that had been destroyed in a fire. It was designed with a 200-foot atrium and a fireplace that facilitated 14-foot logs. Designed to take advantage of the mineral springs in the area, it was meant to evoke Baden-Baden, the spa town in southwestern Germany known for its famous thermal baths. After the stock market crashed in 1929, the hotel gradually fell into disrepair until it was restored in the mid-2000s.
Iowa: Figge Art Museum
The Figge Art Museum in Davenport, Iowa, is housed in a glass building on the banks of the Mississippi River that was designed by British architect David Chipperfield. The museum grew out of the Davenport Municipal Art Gallery, formed in 1925. The collection includes works by Grant Wood, Frank Lloyd Wright, and other American regionalist artists.
Kansas: Museum at Prairiefire
The Museum at Prairiefire in Overland Park, Kansas, opened in 2014 as the centerpiece of a 60-acre development of homes, commercial buildings, and entertainment venues. It showcases a range of permanent and traveling exhibits, including paleontology galleries and even an alcove with Apollo and Space Shuttle Mission artifacts. The exterior of the building conjures up the prairie fires that are central to farming in Kansas, with a combination of colors and jagged shapes meant to bring flames to mind.
Kentucky: Churchill Downs
Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, opened in 1875. Col. Meriwether Lewis Clark had attended the Epsom Derby in England and wanted to develop a racetrack to showcase Kentucky breeders. Today, Churchill Downs sits on 147 acres and is recognizable by the twin spires on top of the grandstand.
Louisiana: St. Louis Cathedral
A French Quarter landmark with its triple steeples, the Cathedral-Basilica of Saint Louis, King of France, overlooks Jackson Square in New Orleans. The third church on the square, it opened to the public in 1794, is the oldest Catholic cathedral in continuous use in the United States, and contains the remains of New Orleans bishops and archbishops.
Maine: Wadsworth-Longfellow House
The colonial home of the author and poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was built in 1786 in Portland, Maine, by Longfellow's grandfather, an officer in the Revolutionary War. Longfellow grew up in the house and wrote his poem "The Rainy Day" in a small room behind the parlor. The house was bequeathed to the Maine Historical Society after the death of Longfellow's younger sister to serve as a memorial. Almost all of the household items on display in the house belonged to the Wadsworth and Longfellow families.
Maryland: Fort McHenry
An earthen forerunner of Fort McHenry was built in Baltimore during the Revolutionary War, but the British never attacked the city. Construction on Fort McHenry, named after the third Secretary of War James McHenry, began in 1798. When the British did attack the fort during the War of 1812, the sight of the American flag flying prompted Francis Scott Key to compose "The Star-Spangled Banner."
Massachusetts: Faneuil Hall
Rich in American history, Boston's Faneuil Hall is the "cradle of liberty" where Samuel Adams and others protested Great Britain's taxation without representation. The red brick building was completed in 1742 as a marketplace and meeting hall, and financed by Peter Faneuil, the son of French Huguenots and a wealthy merchant who traded not only commodities but also enslaved Africans. It was rebuilt after a fire, expanded in the early 1800s, and drew abolitionists, suffragists, and labor unions. John F. Kennedy's last campaign speech during the 1960 presidential race was televised from this location.
Michigan: Fisher Building
Detroit's art deco-styled Fisher Building, designed by architect Albert Khan, is made almost entirely of granite and more than 40 different kinds of marble. Its 441-foot tower was originally covered in gold leaf tile, but it was later replaced with green terra cotta. The building, completed in 1928, was constructed by the Fisher brothers to serve as the headquarters for their auto body company.
Minnesota: Foshay Tower
Modeled after the Washington Monument, the Foshay Tower was finished in 1929. Wilbur Foshay had made his fortune in utility companies, and for the dedication of the art deco building in Minneapolis, John Philip Sousa wrote the "Foshay Tower" march. But only two months after the opening, the stock market crashed, bringing on the Great Depression, and Foshay's check to Sousa bounced. Sousa would not allow the piece to be played until the debt was settled.
Mississippi: Medgar Evers Home Museum
Medgar Evers was assassinated outside his ranch-style home in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1963. A noted civil rights organizer, he was the first field secretary for the Mississippi NAACP and led voter registration drives and boycotts of racist businesses. The home has been turned into a museum and looks as it did when he lived there with his wife, Myrlie, and their family.
Missouri: National World War I Museum and Memorial
After World War I ended, the people of Kansas City, Missouri, raised money for a Liberty Memorial to honor those who had served in the war. In 1921, the five supreme Allied commanders came together to dedicate the site for the memorial, an Egyptian Revival-style monument that was finished five years later. Congress named it an official World War I Museum in 2004.
Montana: Hotel Meade
Hotel Meade, a two-story brick building built in 1875, and more than 50 other buildings make up the ghost town of Bannack. It was the site of Montana's first major gold discovery in 1862, setting off a gold rush, and it was the first territorial capital. But it emptied as the value of the gold dropped and miners moved out of the area.
Nebraska: Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer
The mission of this living history museum in Grand Island, Nebraska, is to preserve the spirit of the pioneers who built the first towns in Nebraska. The Stuhr Museum sits on more than acres and was designed by Edward Durell Stone, the architect of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Its 150,000-plus historical artifacts include collections of Native American and Old West memorabilia, antique farm machinery, and railroad cars.
Nevada: Luxor Las Vegas
Built in the shape of the pyramids of Egypt, and named after the ancient Egyptian city, the Veldon Simpson-designed hotel opened in Las Vegas in 1993 and has more than 4,000 rooms. Other Egyptian touches include a life-sized reproduction of the tomb of King Tutankhamen and a replica of the Great Sphinx of Giza.
New Hampshire: Franklin Pierce Homestead
Franklin Pierce, the country's 14th president, lived here from infancy until his marriage in 1834. Built by his father, Benjamin Pierce, in 1804, the two-story frame and clapboard house in Hillsborough, New Hampshire, is now a state park and a national historic site and includes a formal ballroom on the second floor. Benjamin trained county militia in the room, which now features a curved table used by the state legislature when Franklin was the speaker.
New Jersey: Ford Mansion and Washington's Headquarters Museum
During the winter of 1779 to 1780, then-Gen. George Washington used the Ford Mansion in Morristown, New Jersey, as his headquarters. The mansion is a Georgian-style home built in the early 1770s for iron manufacturer Jacob Ford Jr. He died in 1777, but his widow, Theodosia, allowed George and Martha Washington, plus their aides and servants, to occupy the house for six months. One of the earliest museums centered in a house, it was donated to the National Park Service in 1933.
New Mexico: Taos Pueblo
The Taos settlement in northern New Mexico is believed to be the oldest continuously inhabited community in the United States, with the main part probably dating to between 1000 and 1450. About 150 people live here full-time today. Made of adobe—earth mixed with water and straw—the pueblo consists of Hlauuma, the north house, and Hlaukwima, the south house. At one time, the homes had no doors or windows, only entrances at the top. The pueblo's church, the San Geronimo Chapel, replaced an original church destroyed in 1847 during the Mexican-American War.
New York: Chrysler Building
Its 185-foot art deco spire makes the Chrysler Building instantly recognizable in the New York City skyline. It was erected at the end of the Roaring '20s when developers were vying for the title of tallest skyscraper. It beat out the Bank of Manhattan Trust Building after architect William Van Alen had the spire secretly assembled inside the building and hoisted into place in the fall of 1929 after the building was completed. The victory was short-lived: The Empire State Building eclipsed the Chrysler Building spring of 1931.
North Carolina: Biltmore
This Biltmore in the Blue Ridge Mountains was the Asheville, North Carolina, country home of George and Edith Vanderbilt—a 250-room French Renaissance chateau designed by Richard Morris Hunt, the construction of which began in 1889. When it was finished in 1895, it had 35 bedrooms, 65 fireplaces, and 43 bathrooms. During World War II, the estate was used to store historic artwork from Washington D.C.'s National Gallery of Art. As part of Vanderbilt's initial plan, though one he did not live to experience, The Inn on Biltmore Estate opened to guests in 2001 and has continued to expand.
North Dakota: Bagg Bonanza Farm
The 15-acre farm in Mooreton, North Dakota, is one of the last remaining bonanza farms in the United States. Gigantic bonanza farms in North Dakota made large amounts of money and ranged in size from 3,000 acres to more than 75,000 acres. Wheat was the only crop. The Bagg farm features a fully restored 21-bedroom main house.
Ohio: Longaberger Basket Building
The former headquarters of the Longaberger Company, a basket manufacturer, is fittingly built in the shape of a giant basket. The seven-story building, which opened in 1997 in Newark, Ohio, is a replica of the company's medium market basket, but it became vacant in 2016 when Longaberger moved its operations to Frayzeburg.
Oklahoma: Price Tower
Frank Lloyd Wright built the Price Tower in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, for Harold Price as a headquarters for his pipeline construction company. Completed in 1956, the building originally was designed to be New York City apartments but was never constructed there because of the Great Depression. Wright nicknamed the building "The Tree that Escaped the Crowded Forest," a reference to its escape from Manhattan.
Oregon: Pioneer Courthouse
The courthouse is a three-story building in Portland, Oregon, designed by Alfred B. Mullett in the Italianate style. It was completed in 1875, the second-oldest federal courthouse west of the Mississippi River. With the completion of the new Gus J. Solomon Courthouse in 1933, the federal government began trying to sell the building, and Congress authorized its demolition. But the Pioneer Courthouse was spared, restored in the 1970s, and is again being used as a courthouse.
Frank Lloyd Wright's 1930s masterpiece in southwestern Pennsylvania, Fallingwater is cantilevered over a waterfall on Bear Run, an example of Wright's architecture fitting organically into its surroundings. The house was a weekend home in Mill Run, Pennsylvania, for the family of Edgar Kaufmann Sr., the owner of the Kaufmann's Department Store in Pittsburgh. The Kaufmanns were expecting to build their house across from the falls rather than atop them in order to enjoy the view. Since opening to public tours in 1964, Fallingwater has had more than 6.3 million international visitors.
Rhode Island: The Breakers
The Breakers, the most impressive of the so-called summer "cottages" in Newport, Rhode Island, was built by Cornelius Vanderbilt II, the president of the New York Central Railroad and grandson of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, who made the family fortune. The Italian Renaissance-style palazzo consists of 70 rooms and was based on palaces constructed in the 16th century in Genoa and Turin, Italy. Vanderbilt's youngest daughter opened The Breakers in 1948 to raise money for the Preservation Society of Newport County, which now owns the home.
South Carolina: The Citadel
The military college in Charleston, South Carolina, is known for the two-story Romanesque building that was designed by architect Frederick Wesner and became known as The Citadel. It was erected in 1829, featuring Doric columns and Roman arches in an interior courtyard. Wesner's design might have been inspired by the Jacques-Louis David painting "The Oath of the Horatii."
South Dakota: Mitchell Corn Palace
The first Mitchell, South Dakota, Corn Palace was constructed in 1892 to prove agriculture could thrive in the state's climate. The current Moorish Revival building was completed in 1921 as a place for residents to celebrate the harvest with a fall festival and entertainment. Its most distinctive features are its corn murals—yearly designs of grass and corn around such themes as "Mother Goose Rhymes," "Rock of Ages," and "Salute to Rodeo"—which spanned two years because of a severe drought.
Tennessee: Batman Building
The AT&T Building in Nashville, Tennessee, built in the early 1990s, got its nickname because it looks like Batman's mask. Dick Miller, designer and senior architect at Earl Swensson Associates, did not anticipate the reaction to the building because the resemblance to the superhero was not apparent on a small model, as he told the Nashville Business Journal. It is the tallest office building in Nashville and has a three-story winter garden.
Texas: Texas School Book Depository
The Romanesque Revival-style building in downtown Dallas is notorious as the location from which former President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Lee Harvey Oswald fatally shot the president from the sixth floor on Nov. 23, 1963. At the time, the building was leased by the Texas School Book Depository Company, which fulfilled orders for school books. For the following 25 years, the floor was closed to the public. Today, the renamed Dallas County Administration Building is used for offices, except for the sixth floor, which has become the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza.
Utah: Salt Lake Temple
The Salt Lake Temple, notable for its spires and angel Moroni statue, is an international symbol of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Designed by Truman O. Angell, it is the church's largest temple and took 40 years to build, with walls 9 feet thick at the base. The groundbreaking took place in 1853. Currently undergoing renovations through 2026, when completed, there are plans to offer services in 86-plus languages. Sharing Temple Square is the Salt Lake Tabernacle, home to The Tabernacle Choir.
Vermont: Robert Frost Stone House Museum
Robert Frost wrote "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" at the dining room table of the stone house in Shaftsbury, Vermont, in June 1922. He lived here for nine years. The Dutch Colonial, built in 1769, sits on seven acres with stone walls and some of Frost's heirloom apple trees. Bennington College took ownership of the house (now a museum) in 2017.
Virginia: Virginia State Capitol
The state capitol in Richmond was designed by Thomas Jefferson and Charles-Louis Clérisseau and was based on the Maison Carrée, a Roman temple in Nîmes, France. The state's General Assembly first met there in 1788. A life-sized marble statue of George Washington stands in the rotunda, and a bust of the Marquis de Lafayette is also on display.
Washington: Space Needle
Seattle's Space Needle was built for the 1962 World's Fair, the theme of which was "The Age of Space." One of the fair's organizers, Edward E. Carlson, had been inspired by a broadcast tower that he saw while on a trip to Stuttgart, Germany, and wanted something similar for the fair. He named the structure, which stands at 605 feet. From the top, visitors look out over downtown Seattle, Mount Rainier, Puget Sound, and the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges.
West Virginia: Our Lady of the Pines
The tiny Roman Catholic church bills itself as the smallest church in 48 states. Built in 1958 near the community of Eglon, West Virginia, it is 12 feet by 24 feet, with room for about a dozen people. There are three small pews on each side of the center aisle. It was built by a couple as a memorial to their parents.
Wisconsin: Cana Island Lighthouse
The 89-foot-tall Cana Island Lighthouse was built along the shores of Lake Michigan in 1869, and its beacon became automated in 1944. The lighthouse tower opened to the public in 2008, and visitors can climb the 97 steps to the catwalk. The Door County island can be reached by foot or haywagon over a causeway.
Wyoming: Sheridan Inn
Established in 1893, the Sheridan Inn was partly owned by Col. William F. Cody, aka Buffalo Bill, who auditioned new members for his "Wild West" show on the front lawn. It was financed by the Burlington Missouri Railroad and the Sheridan Land Company and was inspired by hunting lodges that the architect Thomas Kimball had visited in Scotland. Today, guests can choose from 22 themed rooms—from Buffalo Bill Cody (Rm. 201) to other key people from his life, such as Broncho Billy (Rm. 308).
Data reporting by Lucas Hicks. Story editing by Teena Apeles. Copy editing by Paris Close.