Do you love to visit famous historic houses? Upon first glance, houses don’t seem all that spectacular. It’s just a building; it’s just shelter. But, what if the house could talk? Every house has a story to tell and the history you could learn from a single house is astounding. Take my house, for instance, my dogs get to run down a ramp into their own fenced in area in the backyard, all because one of the many previous owners had a blind dog. Compared to Johnny Cash’s house, however, my house isn’t that spectacular. Many houses are more interesting than mine. Houses owned by celebrities, politicians, or royalty all have a life of their own and thousands of stories to tell. Here are 25 Famous Houses You’ll Want to Visit.
American Gothic House
Otherwise known as the Dibble House, the American Gothic House was made famous by Grant Wood’s painting entitled “American Gothic.” People who visit it are encouraged to take a picture before they visit the visitors center which is a museum with exhibits dedicated to the painter and the community around the house.
Abraham Lincoln’s Springfield Home
While it’s not much to look at on the outside, Abraham Lincoln’s house in Springfield has proven to be a tourist hot spot. This house hosted many of Lincoln’s guests, parades, rallies, and other political functions before he was elected, making it a piece of American history.
The Greenbrier is a luxury resort located in West Virginia. It’s had many famous political figures that have stayed at the hotel over the years, including Dwight D. Eisenhower and 25 other presidents, but the Greenbrier is most known for “The Bunker.”
For those who don’t know, the U.S. government approached the Greenbrier to build a nuclear bomb shelter in 1950 in case of a nuclear holocaust. Although the bunker was kept stocked with supplies for 30 years, it was never used as an emergency location. In fact, the government never acknowledged its existence. It only became known to the public after a 1992 story published by The Washington Post.
Frank Lloyd Wright House and Studio
Famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright built this house at the ripe old age of 22. It’s also where he and other artists designed many notable structures, including the Robie House, Unity Temple, the Laura Gale home, and the Larkin building.
Benjamin Franklin House
Located in London, England, this is the only remaining house that the founding father lived in before moving to Philadelphia. Franklin lived and worked from this residence for sixteen years. It now is the home of a “Historical Experience” aimed to teach history to kids. Many schools take trips there to experience what the house has to offer.
This is the site of Benjamin Franklin’s home and while it only has architectural remains of the home, it’s interesting to see the foundations that are now embedded in the ground. Nearby is also a museum dedicated to the founding father.
This ranch house located in North Dakota was Theodore Roosevelt’s main ranch house he used before his time in office. Roosevelt once said that if it wasn’t for his time at Elkhorn Ranch in North Dakota, he never would’ve become president.
The Gonzalez-Alvarez House in St. Augustine, Florida is the self proclaimed “Oldest house in the United States.” While there are a few other contenders for that title, it’s still quite the experience to visit its two museums and go on one of the many tours inside one of America’s oldest house.
Located in Suffolk, England, Kentwell Hall dates back to at least 1,086 CE. It’s been the backdrop to countless movies and television shows and since 1978 house been host to annual re-enactments. It also hosts an annual Halloween event called “Scaresville,” all adding up to a fun stop for any historian.
This house was built in 1831 for Samuel Hermann and is now known as one of, if not the best preserved house in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Entering this house is like stepping into old New Orleans as even most of the furniture and items seen in the house belonged to either the Hermann or Grima families.
Woodrow Wilson House
The Woodrow Wilson House was the residence of the Twenty-Eighth President of the United States, Woodrow Wilson after he left office. Wilson also died in the upstairs bedroom in 1924.Wilson made several modifications to the house, including a billiard room, as well as a library of over 8,000 books.
Oak Alley Plantation
Built between the years of 1837 and 1839 by George Swainey for Jacques Telesphore Roman in Louisiana, the plantation gained fame for its beautiful architecture and breathtaking grounds, including the famous oak trees lining the walkway to the front of the house.
Alloa Tower was the home of medieval royalty in Scotland. It’s one of Scotland’s largest remaining medieval tower houses in the entire country. After falling into disrepair, it was rescued by the Clackmannanshire Council and restored to its former glory in a project that took six years to complete. It is now in the care of the National Trust for Scotland.
Hogarth’s House is the former residence of the 18th-century English painter William Hogarth. It now houses a historic museum. Two floors of the house are open to visitors and the top floor houses a study and research room for use by appointment.
Johnny Cash’s Boyhood Home
I have to be honest, this is not the most impressive house on this list, but as a colossal Johnny Cash fan, this is a personal favorite. It may not be much to look at but to see where The Man In Black spent his formative years would be like a religious experience for his biggest fans.
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
The Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, previously known as Villa Vizcaya, is the former villa and estate of businessman James Deering located in Miami, Florida. The design of the villa was influenced by Veneto and Tuscan Italian Renaissance making every nook and cranny of the grounds breathtaking. The house was converted into the Dade County Museum of Art in 1953 and has operated as such since.
Vizcaya was made one of America’s Eleven Most Endangered Historic Places due to the threat of a proposed high-rise development on neighboring property.
Martin Luther King's Birth Home
Built in 1895, the birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr., is one small house that now makes up Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park. If you visit the park, you can see multiple places that were significant to King throughout his life.
Palace of Versailles
The Palace of Versailles was originally built as a two story hunting lodge for King Louis XIII. Over the years, it was built upon and was eventually made into a place where royalty would stay from 1682 to 1789.
It is now a world heritage site and is a bigger tourist attraction than the Eiffel Tower. In fact, it’s the second most visited place is France behind only the Louvre.
Mark Twain House
Mark Twain is one of the best writers in American history. This is the house where Twain wrote most of his best work such as “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” “The Prince and the Pauper,” “Life on the Mississippi,” “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” “A Tramp Abroad,” and “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.”
The Mark Twain House has been named one of the ten most historic houses in the world.
Walt Disney’s House
This is the house where Walt Disney raised his two children and worked on many creative projects. It’s only been opened for a few select special events but if you’re lucky enough to be able to get a chance to tour it, you’ll see a glimpse of what Walt’s private life was like.
As a massive Walt Disney fan, this would be like a dream come true for me. I’d probably die of dehydration due to the amount of tears I’d shed while walking around the fairytale like house.
Otherwise known as the Robert E. Lee Memorial, Arlington House is a mansion located in Arlington, Virginia and was once home to the confederate general himself. During the American Civil War, the Arlington National Cemetery was added to ensure that the general would never be able to return to his home.
It’s a strangely calming and haunting feeling looking out over the cemetery and it’s a must see location for any American Civil War buff.
Mount Vernon was George Washington’s plantation from 1732 to 1799. That alone is enough to warrant a spot on this list. Mount Vernon has been open to the public since 1850. While there, you can see the original house, the farm, and even an operational blacksmith shop.
The Anne Frank House
The Anne Frank House Museum was built around the same apartment where Anne Frank wrote her diary while hiding from the Nazi’s during World War II. It’s a museum that offers little other than empty spaces, but the house has so much historical meaning that just being in its presence is awe inspiring.
When fans and journalists were constantly crowding Elvis Presley’s house, he bought the more secluded “Graceland,” a farmhouse in Memphis, Tennessee for $102,500. Elvis lived in Graceland until he famously died in one of its bathrooms in 1977. Today, Graceland is the second most visited house in the United States, just behind the White House.
Winchester Mystery House
The Winchester House is one of America’s most haunted houses. After Sarah Winchester’s family tragically died, she was told it happened due to a curse placed on the Winchester family because of the Winchester Rifle that took thousands of lives. To atone this curse, Sarah built a house for herself and all of the spirits that fell to the weapon.
The house was constantly under construction. Areas of the house would be built and then rebuilt to appease the spirits that dwelled in the house, according to Sarah. Anyone who visits the house must be accompanied by someone who knows the house well as many hallways and doorways lead to nowhere. To this day, it’s unknown how many rooms the house holds.