The United States of America can stake its claim to being one of the countries with the richest histories in the world. Nations like China, Egypt, Greece as well as Italy (for the iconic Roman Empire) undoubtedly rank high on that list. However, the United States has had extensive social, economic, military and political influence on the rest world for the last two or three centuries. This kind of history is perhaps best embodied in historical houses that mark key moments in the lifespan of the USA.
The White House
America is home to some of the world’s most iconic houses. Arguably, none more so than the White House, the official residence of any incumbent President of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C., the White House was constructed between 1792 and 1800. First, President George Washington chose the location for its construction, while Irish-born architect James Hoban executed the design. Hoban was also tasked with rebuilding the house after it was burned down by the British in 1814. Second President John Adams and his wife Abigail were the first ever White House occupants.
The Star-Spangled Banner Flag House
More commonly referred to as the Betsy Ross House, this is said to be the birthplace of the American flag. It is worth mentioning that there are contradictory historical reports on both the exact residence of the seamstress and flag-maker Betsy Ross, as well as the claims that she was the first person ever to sew a replica of the American flag. Nonetheless, the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House was founded as a historic site in 1927 and declared a national historic landmark in 1970. It remains one of the most visited tourist sites in Philadelphia.
The Biltmore Mansion
The Biltmore Mansion in Asheville, North Carolina is the biggest, privately-owned house in the United States. The mansion is built on an estate of more than 8,000 acres and stands at 178,926 square feet of floor space and 135,280 square feet of living area. The Biltmore Mansion was built by art collector George Washington Vanderbilt II between 1889 and 1895.
Still owned by the Vanderbilt family, the mansion boasts four floors, a bachelor wing and a basement. In total, there are 250 rooms in the building as well as an indoor swimming pool and a bowling alley. About 1.5 million guests visit the estate every year, taking in the mansion itself, the gardens, a winery and many different exhibits.
Like the Biltmore Mansion, Lynnewood Hall in Elkins Park, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania can trace its ingress back to the Gilded Age. Unfortunately, this architectural relic has become the story of desertion, and consequent degeneration. Designed by architect Horace Trumbeau for industrialist Peter A.B. Widener, the mansion was built between 1897 and 1900. Widener lived out the rest of his life there, until he died in 1915, three years after he lost a son and grandson in the Titanic disaster of 1912. The Widener family continued to occupy the house until 1941, when they vacated and a caretaker was left in charge. The mansion has since been bought twice, first by the Faith Theological Seminary in 1952 and then by Dr. Rev. Richard S. Yoon in 1996.
Other historical houses in the States include the Boldt Castle, built by the mega-rich hotelier George Boldt as a present to his wife. The Breakers Hotel Complex is another American classic, whose construction is also attributed to the Vanderbilt family.
From political monuments to private properties that were built by some of the wealthiest men in US history, these houses represent a part of the incredible treasure vault that is American history.