Traveling through the country, you can find history and insights into the nation’s culture everywhere by looking at many examples of early homes. Think about planning a road trip to see these nine houses all over the country!
1. Arrowhead, Pittsfield, Massachusetts
This modest house was built in 1785 in Pittsfield in the Berkshire region of western Massachusetts. It served as author Herman Melville’s home from 1850 to 1863. These are considered Melville’s most productive years, and they saw him working on such classics as The Confidence Man and Moby Dick. Today, visitors can look out the window of Melville’s writing room and see Mount Greylock in the distance. Legend has it that this mountain, when covered in snow, inspired Melville to write Moby Dick, his best-known work about a giant white whale.
2. Moody Mansion, Galveston, Texas
The Moody family were titans of the cotton industry in the antebellum American south, and their Moody Mansion in Galveston is a prime example of Romanesque architecture. Built in 1895, the manor features 31 rooms and five balconies spread over four floors. The property is available for rental, and its several dining rooms and parlors are ideal for staging a Victorian-era themed event. When not in used for special occasions, tours are given of the property and its historically significant art and furnishings.
3. C.A. Nothnagle Log House, Greenwich Township, New Jersey
The oldest still-standing log home in America, the Nothnagle Log House was built in 1638. This house is so old that even some of its building materials were brought over from Europe. The fireplace bricks, for example, are believed to have been made in Finland in the 1590’s and likely were stowed in a transatlantic ship as ballast. The original cabin measured 16 feet by 22 feet, which was a large-sized residence for the time. Over the past 380 years, additions have been made to the structure, which now includes a two-story living area.
4. Fairbanks House, Dedham, Massachusetts
If you want to step back in time and experience colonial America in the 17th century, the Fairbanks House in Dedham, Massachusetts – a town south of Boston — has preserved the year 1637 for visitors to explore. The home is the oldest wood-framed residence in the United States. The building served as home for eight generations of the Fairbanks family, but today it’s a museum of New England colonial history.
5. Gonzalez-Alvarez House, St. Augustine, Florida
The Gonzalez-Alvarez House in Florida is also known as the Oldest House. It dates back to 1723 and is primarily constructed out of limestone. It is a two-story structure, and originally was the home of a Spanish military leader and his family. The property has changed hands many times over the years as St. Augustine changed from Spanish to British and then American control. The house is on the National Register of historic locations and is a popular tourist site for those interested in the history of St. Augustine.
6. Philip Schuyler Mansion, Albany, New York
Built around 1761, this mansion housed the Schuyler family, a wealthy Dutch clan who exerted influence in New York City and Albany, New York’s capital and a colonial metropolis and trading center. Philip Schuyler became a Revolutionary War General and, eventually, one of the first American Senators. Schuyler’s daughter, Elizabeth, married Alexander Hamilton at the mansion, where the Schuylers hosted numerous other prominent guests, including George Washington and Benjamin Franklin. Today the house serves as a Revolutionary War museum and is open for tours.
7. Old Stone House, Washington, DC
The oldest residence in Washington is not the White House, but rather the Old Stone House on M Street. This building was constructed in 1765 for a British Naval officer, as the area of Washington, D.C. was then part of the colony of Maryland. The structure survived the British invasion of Washington in 1814 which saw many buildings (including the White House) burned to the ground.
8. Brisbois House, Prarie du Chien, Wisconsin
This house, built in 1840, is one of the oldest structures in Wisconsin. It was constructed out of stone, and stands at two and a half stories. It was built for Michael Brisbois, a fur trader who came to Prarie du Chien in the late 1700s to establish his business. Brisbois’ history is interesting, as some records indicate that he was a British soldier who settled in the area after leaving the army. His descendants maintained the property well, and it is now owned by the Wisconsin Historical Society.
9. Pirate’s House, Savannah, Georgia
This final house is no longer a residence but serves as a restaurant and tavern. The Pirate’s House, parts of which were built in 1734, is the oldest structure in the state of Georgia. Although visitors cannot view the property in its original condition as a southern colonial home, it remains one of Savannah’s most popular tourist destinations as a restaurant.
If you’re looking to explore the roots of American domesticity, these 9 homes will not disappoint!