The U.S.A. is home to some of the most intriguing and unique museums on the planet, and many of them are run from historic homes that once served as the dwellings of key figures from the past. Flying under the radar of many tourists from overseas, these historic homes have been superbly maintained to preserve their stories and are ideal to visit if you’re a history fan.
Lived in by famous political figures, musicians, and authors, and designed by legendary architects, designers, and businessmen, these are 10 historic homes in the United States that every American should visit at least once.
Writers, readers, and anybody even remotely interested in literature should visit the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West, Florida. The house still contains some of the author’s original furniture and one of the most notable is a collection of chandeliers.
This house is also a must if you’re a cat person since it is home to between 40 and 50 cats. These are polydactyl kitties—meaning they have six toes—and they are the descendants of the original cats that the author had while he lived in the house.
You don’t have to leave U.S. soil to visit a real castle. Harvard-educated Newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst wanted to build such a dwelling after being inspired by his travels to Europe, so he employed architect Julia Morgan to build his regal and otherworldly home on his family land in San Simeon, California.
Spanning over 90,000 square feet, Hearst Castle started being built in 1919 and construction continued on through 1947. As if the actual building isn’t impressive enough, it also contains a famous collection of art and artifacts.
The home lived in by Margaret “Molly” Brown, also known as the Unsinkable Molly Brown as Titanic fans would know, is now known as The Molly Brown House. Visitors to this museum will discover no less than 10,000 artifacts, including period pieces that give insight into the early 20th-century life, and pieces to do with Brown herself.
The museum offers tours that reveal many interesting details about the Brown family and aim to separate myths and legends from the truth. The focus isn’t on Brown’s survival of the Titanic, but instead on her philanthropic efforts.
One of the most unique homes on this list, Körner’s Folly was constructed in 1880 by Jule Gilmer Körner, an interior furniture designer and decorator. The quirky home features 22 rooms, a number of decorative murals, 15 different fireplaces, and a huge range in ceiling heights. In some rooms, the ceiling is just over five feet high, while in others, it reaches 25 feet.
Stretching across 6,000 square feet, the home was originally used to showcase Körner’s portfolio of interior design. According to House Method, the designer remodeled the house twice—once in 1890 and then again in 1906.
If you’re going to visit a historic home, why not one lived in by a President of the United States? This plantation mansion was designed by Thomas Jefferson as his own home before he co-designed the White House. Construction on Monticello began in 1769, and the home was altered years later between 1796 and 1809 after Jefferson returned from Europe and wished to add a few Roman Neo-classical features.
While touring the museum, you’ll learn about the many inventions of Jefferson that changed the course of modern life. It’s definitely worth a visit!
The former home of Ima Hogg, a philanthropist, and daughter of former a Texas governor, Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens is located in Houston, in the River Oaks neighborhood. The museum contains an array of works of art and antique furnishings, as well as beautiful gardens through which guests love to stroll.
The time to visit Bayou Bend is during the holidays because it hosts a Christmas village every year. You’ll find activities for families along with festive decorations, live actors and theatrical effects to create the magic of the holidays.
For music fans, the Queens home of Louis Armstrong is a must. The iconic jazz musician lived here from 1943 until his death in 1971 with his wife Lucille. Following the death of her husband, Lucille gave the City of New York ownership of the house in order to create a museum dedicated to Louis.
Guests are taken on guided tours that last for 40 minutes and display audio clips from recordings made by Louis, as well as the musician practicing his trumpet and doing everyday things like eating dinner and socializing with friends
Although the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings House is a lot less grand than the other historic homes on this list, it is no less historically significant. The home, located in Cross Creek, Florida, belonged to the Pulitzer Prize-winning author during the time that she wrote her famous book The Yearling.
The Yearling was adapted to film twice—once in 1946 and once in 1994—and a movie was also made about Rawlings’ life in 1983, starring Mary Steenburgen. The author released her memoirs under the name Cross Creek, which contains information about the town and its residents.
The most famous historic home of them all, every American should go to Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee, at least once. The former home of pop culture phenomenon Elvis Presley, Graceland sees flocks of tourists from all over the world every year coming to pay their respects to The King.
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Aside from the mansion, there are also several adjacent museums to visit which contain an impressive collection of memorabilia and artifacts from the singer’s life. If you really can’t get enough, there are guest quarters offering an overnight experience available.
For a historic home with a creepy feel, look no further than the Witch House in Salem, Massachusetts. The home was built in 1675 and belonged to Jonathan Corwin, an infamous judge during the Witch Trials. He ruled over the trials of all 19 victims, and the home remained in his family for the next two hundred years.
You can tour the Witch House between May and November, with most people choosing to visit in October. The home still contains period furniture and is located near the historic Old Town Hall.