14 Most Famous Historic Houses in the US (with Pictures)
The United States may be one of the youngest countries in the world, but it has a rich history. The country hosts a range of beautiful and historic homes, most of which have been home to millionaires, presidents, and famous personalities.
Some of these homes are established around the colonial era, while some look modern. However, two things are common in all of these historic homes: they all have striking architecture and a diverse style, which also makes them unique from one another at the same time.
If you are going to visit the US, be prepared to have a rich experience at all of these historic homes. From industry tycoons’ country retreats to former presidents’ birthplaces, there is a list of historic houses in the US that you must visit once in a lifetime.
The 14 Famous Historic Houses in the US
1. Lincoln Home National Historic Site
|413 S 8th St, Springfield, IL 62701
Located in Springfield, Illinois, Lincoln Home National Historic Site was the residential space for former President Abraham Lincoln in the 18th century. The Lincoln home was originally the Greek Revival style house, bought by Abraham and Lincoln for $1,200. An interesting fact about this famous historical house in the US is that it was the only home Lincoln has ever owned!
The home consists of two floors, with 12 rooms in total. The Lincoln Home National Historic Site is free to visit, but the management also accepts donations. To make the most of your trip, you must arrive at the Visitor Centre front desk early. However, you might not get the visiting chance every time. So, it is better to book 6 months in advance.
If you become fortunate enough to visit this historic house, you will also love the four-block neighborhood. If you’re lucky, you may also be joined by costume volunteers to make your trip even more fun.
|1491 Mill Run Rd, Mill Run, PA 15464
Fallingwater has the perfect blend of modern architecture and nature. This famous house is comparatively newer than the rest on this list and is built by the renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Fallingwater is situated in Laurel Highlands, Pennsylvania, which also served as the Kaufmann family’s vacation home.
The house is built over a waterfall and resembles a diving board in architecture. Frank Lloyd used the best material in the construction of this house. The local sandstone, luxurious artworks, and perfect furnishing—all these things make this site a must-visit.
Edgar Kaufmann donated falling water to the Western Pennsylvania Conservation. Because of this, Fallingwater is now included in the UNESCO World Heritage site and is currently open as a museum to the public. Since 1964, more than 6 million visitors have witnessed the beauty of this house. It is also surrounded by the Bear Run Nature Reserve, an area with 5,100 acres of land.
|931 Thomas Jefferson Pkwy, Charlottesville, VA 22902
Since 1987, Monticello has been a UNESCO World Heritage site. Former President Thomas Jefferson used to live here. In fact, Monticello is built on Jeffersons’ land in Albemarle County, which he inherited at age 26. It is also close to Jefferson’s birthplace.
It took more than 40 years for Monticello to design and rebuild. Initially, it was a 5,000-acre plantation land where 400 to 500 people used to work as slaves. The name Monticello comes from Italian, which means little mountain. Monticello is actually built on top of a mountain.
From this house, you can enjoy the spectacular views of the Blue Mountains. If you are visiting Monticello for the first time, the good news is that this historic house offers guided tours throughout the year. However, tours of outdoor gardens are available from April to October only.
4. Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum
|907 Whitehead St, Key West, FL 33040
Whether you are a leader or not, you know the famous American writer Ernest Hemingway from the mid-19th century. The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum is his former home, built in a Spanish Colonial style. It is located in the Florida Keys.
When Hemingway and his wife purchased this place, it was not how it is today. After the renovation, the property became ideal for living. The unique part about the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum is its six-toed cats.
Upon the visit, you will find around 60 cats living on the property, who are actually the offspring of Snow White—Hemingway’s polydactyl cat. So, if you are a cat lover, you are in for a treat.
5. Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
|3251 S Miami Ave, Miami, FL 33129
Villa Vizcaya was the residential space for James Deering and his family. James Deering was the International Harvester Company’s Vice President who made his name in the agriculture machinery industry over the years. The Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is located on Biscayne Bay, currently known as the Coconut Grove area in Miami.
The famous designer Paul Chalfin was friends with James Deering. He took part in the house’s construction, which is why you will find a striking similarity between the villa and the Veneto region of Italy.
The house was built from reinforced concrete but later renovated with a modern water filtration system, an automated telephone switchboard, and a central vacuum system. You will also find a fountain garden, mangrove shore, maze, Secret Garden, and the classic gondola dock at this historic house in the US.
6. The Breakers
|44 Ochre Point Ave, Newport, RI 02840
The famous mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, the Breakers has been included in the National Historic Landmark list since 1994. This historic place is located near the Atlantic Ocean, offering the most memorable experience to visitors. The mastermind behind the construction of the Breakers is Richard Morris Hunt.
At the time of construction, Richard seemed inspired by the Italian Renaissance style and the 16th-century palaces present in Turin and Genoa. The total cost of the mansion was $7 million, commissioned by Cornelius Vanderbilt II in the late 80s.
Upon visiting the 70-room place, you will be awestruck by the platinum-leaf walls and ceilings of the Morning Room. An interesting fact is that they were meant to be silver-leaf but got changed to platinum after a thorough analysis performed in the Winterthur Museum laboratory in Delaware. Platinum-leaf walls are a primary reason why the surface of this mansion has not been tarnished till today.
7. Ca’ d’Zan
|5401 Bay Shore Rd, Sarasota, FL 34243
Ca’ d’Zan is a Venetian Gothic-themed historic house in the US that used to be the home of John and Mable Ringling. John was a famous circus owner who, along with his wife, used to spend winter in Ca’ d’Zan. It is located in Sarasota and is one of Florida’s most popular tourist attractions.
The name of this mansion came from the Venetian dialect, which means the “House of John.” You will be amazed by the beautiful Ringling Rose Garden, the eccentric glazed exterior tiles, an Aeolian organ consisting of 2,289 pipes, and of course, the 82-foot-tall Belvedere tower.
8. Nemours Estate
|1600 Rockland Rd, Wilmington, DE 19803
The Nemours Estate is one of the most famous historic French houses in the US. It is a neoclassical mansion built over a 300-acre property owned by Alfred I. DuPont in Wilmington. The name of this historic house was inspired by a French town that Alfred’s ancestors represented in the French States General.
The house consists of five floors with 105 rooms in total. Alfred intended to give the Nemours Estate to his second wife, Alicia. Alfred included many of his inventions in the Nemours Estate’s interior to give the mansion a personal touch. Upon visiting the house, you will definitely love the vintage cars of the Chauffeur’s Garage.
Not only the interior but the exterior of the Nemours Estate is also beautiful. In fact, its outside garden is the largest formal French garden in all of North America. Both the mansion and the gardens are open for public visits. However, you must pre-book your ticket.
9. Longwood Mansion
|140 Lower Woodville Rd, Natchez, MS 39120
The Longwood Estate is located in Mississippi and is different from the Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania. The mansion has a unique appearance. It is an Octagonal house with an onion dome on the top. The Longwood Mansion is also included in the National Historic Landmark list and is popular as Nutt’s Folly.
Samuel Sloan constructed this mansion for Dr. Haller Nut and his wife. In the beginning, the home’s top levels were not finished. Soon the civil war started, and construction work was stopped completely. During this time, pneumonia hit Dr. Nutt, and he passed away.
As a result, the Longwood Mansion has an eccentric contrast between the completed basement and the unfinished upper floors. You can easily visit the mansion anytime through Natchez Pilgrimage Tours.
10. Biltmore Estate
|1 Lodge St, Asheville, NC 28803
The Baltimore Estate is not only the largest home in America, but it is also now a most-visited museum in North Carolina. The mansion is the family property of George Vanderbilt and is currently owned by his offspring. This historic house is established over 178,926 square feet of land.
Baltimore house is inspired by the French Renaissance, consisting of 43 bathrooms, 35 bedrooms, and 65 fireplaces. George hired Richard Morris Hunt and Frederick Law Olmsted to construct this place.
The Baltimore Estate also includes formal and informal gardens, a winery, an outdoor pool, a fitness center, a hot tub, and much more. If you visit this historic house in the daytime, you will receive a complimentary wine-tasting experience.
11. Oheka Castle
|135 W Gate Dr, Huntington, NY 11743
The Oheka Castle was more than a luxurious hotel in the beginning. It was the home of Otto Hermann Kahn, who was a banker and philanthropist. The castle’s name is derived from the initials of Otto’s name—O-He-Ka. It is built above an artificial hill, consisting of 127 rooms and formal gardens.
You may know this historic house from the opening sequence of the movie Citizen Kane. Oheka Castle is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a Historic Hotels of America member. In fact, this house used to be the second-largest private residence in the entire US.
12. Mount Vernon
|3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Hwy, Mt Vernon, VA 22121
Mount Vernon used to be the former residence of George Washington and his wife, Martha. It is located in Fairfax County, Virginia, on Potomac’s banks. An interesting fact is that both Washington and Martha are buried in the house’s family vault.
Mount Vernon has mesmerizing garden landscaping, personally supervised by George Washington himself. He used to love a naturalistic English style, and Mount Vernon depicts it clearly. Along with the house, you will also love various historic outbuildings, including many stables and a blacksmith.
|Elvis Presley Blvd, Memphis, TN 38116
Built in the Classic Revival style, Graceland is the former home of Elvis Presley. The mansion is designed elegantly, set on 13 acres of land in Tennessee. Lisa Marie Presley, the daughter of Elvis, now owns the property.
Upon visiting the mansion, you will be welcomed by living quarters, Meditation Garden, Trophy Building, a Jungle Room Tiki bar, and Racquetball Building—all through an interactive iPad-guided tour. That’s not it; you will also witness separate exhibits, including Memphis Entertainment Complex and Elvis’ personally owned custom jets.
If you are a food lover, the good news is that there are multiple eateries in Graceland, such as Glady’s Diner and Vernon’s Smokehouse.
14. Hearst Castle
|750 Hearst Castle Rd, San Simeon, CA 93452
Another famous historical house in the US is Hearst Castle. It is a National Historic Landmark popular as the Big House or La Casa Grande, owned by publishing tycoon William Randolph Hearst. It is located close to the Pacific coast in San Simeon, California.
The Hearst Castle is the best example of classic Mediterranean Revival architecture, designed by Julia Morgan. The two major highlights of the castle are the Neptune Pool present outside and the Roman Pool inside.
You may recognize the Neptune Pool from the movie Spartacus. It was the entrance of Crassus’ Villa! You also may need to make reservations at Hearst Castle to visit.
Whether you live in the US or plan to visit the country soon, you should not miss visiting the above famous historic houses. From the Ernest Hemingway Museum to Lincoln Home National Historic Site, every property has its unique architecture and design to offer amazing experiences.
Many of these historic houses offer the public free visiting facility. However, you must check in with the management before visiting.
Featured Image Credit: Jumpstory