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The best house museums in the U.S., mapped

From Gilded Age mansions to daring Modernist experiments, these are residential masterpieces that resonate

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At Curbed, we’re obsessed with superlative homes and groundbreaking domestic design, architecture that not only features exceptional living spaces but in some cases, looks to define new ways of living. There’s no shortage of noteworthy homes across the country, spanning different styles, regions, and eras. But for our nationwide map of exceptional home museums—listed from west to east, without any thought of rank—we looked with a wider lens and created a list of landmarks, all open to the public, that have made a significant impact.

Our criteria balances architectural importance, aesthetic beauty and cultural relevance, looking to create a mix of old a new across the country. As always, if we missed something, please let us know in the comments.

Update: A previous version of this map included LA’s Sheats-Goldstein House, designed by John Lautner. While this house is indeed one our favorite residential marvels in the United States, it is not presently open to the public for tours.

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1. Hearst Castle

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750 Hearst Castle Rd
San Simeon, CA 93452

The inspiration for Xanadu in Orson Welles’s classic film Citizen Kane, William Randolph Hearst’s castle in San Simeon was built on family land where he would take camping trips as a child. Architect Julia Morgan designed the ranch and hilltop estate based on the newspaper tycoon’s eclectic tastes, including Spanish themes. "La Cuesta Encantada" ("The Enchanted Hill") became a sprawling enterprise, complete with the nation’s largest private zoo, a movie theater, the Neptune Pool (which contained the façade of a Roman temple Hearst imported from Europe) and a private power plant. A perfectionist, Hearst often ordered different sections to be redesigned and rebuilt; Morgan started pitching ideas in 1915, but the project still was incomplete by the time Hearst died in 1951.

Hearst Castle
Hearst Castle
Creative Commons Image by Bri

2. Eames House

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203 Chautauqua Blvd
Pacific Palisades, CA 90272

Anybody convinced that modern design means cold edges and a stark palette need only peek inside the exuberant home Ray and Charles Eames designed for themselves in 1949. Commissioned as part of Art & Architecture magazine’s Case Study program and placed amid a eucalyptus grove in the Pacific Palisades, the prefab exterior, a Mondrian-like assembly of off-the-shelf parts—colorful panels, glass, and steel—conceals a playful and living room. The inspiring, oft-photographed space, an artful array of toys, tchotchkes, and furniture reassembled piece-by-piece as part of the epic “California Design” exhibit, embodies the couple’s imaginative and all-encompassing design philosophy. 

Eames House
Eames House
Carol Highsmith/Library of Congress

3. Schindler House

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835 N Kings Rd
West Hollywood, CA 90069

A radical departure from architectural convention at the time it was built in 1922, R.M. Schindler’s experiment in shared space, separated by sliding glass panels, came from an unlikely inspiration: a vacation village at Yosemite National Park. The layout of those shared campsites gave Schindler the idea of creating a live-work space appropriate for two families, a pair of L-shaped apartments with two studios and a utility room apiece. While it may not look it from the road, the home’s then-unique blurring of interior and exterior created a precedent, Also known as the Schindler Chace House, since his friend Clyde Chace and his wife were the first family to share the home with Schindler (Richard Neutra was next), this unique building was a early Modernist classic, and is now the headquarters for the MAK Center for Art & Architecture.

Schindler House
Schindler House

4. Hollyhock House

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4800 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027

Finally restored to its true ‘20s glamour, Frank Lloyd Wright’s most stunning work in California was based in part around oil heiress Aline Barnsdall’s favorite flower, found sprouting in the central courtyard and etched into the home, via abstract motifs the appear throughout. In many ways, this Mayan revival home, an elaborate stucco residence perched on a 36-acre hilltop site, planted the seed of California Modernism, according to curator Jeffrey Herr. Filled with Japanese influences and Wright-designed furniture, the centerpiece is the elaborate fireplace, which some believe is an abstract representation of Barnsdall as an Indian Princess.  

The Hollyhock House by Frank Lloyd Wright. The interior has couches, tables, a fireplace, and a skylight with wooden slats. The wall above the fireplace is brown brick. There is a tan floor.
Hollyhock House
Elizabeth Daniels

5. The Gamble House

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4 Westmoreland Pl
Pasadena, CA 91103

A lot of weighty associations are attached to this airy Pasadena home and its gabled roofs: it’s the finest surviving example of architectural duo Greene and Greene’s work, an exemplary California bungalow, and a high point of the Arts and Crafts movement. But its romantic silhouettes, Japanese influences, and exemplary woodwork also point to an early example of Southern California cool, a thoroughly modern attempt to create a building wedded to the climate (note the numerous sleeping porches). Commissioned by David Gamble, an heir to the Procter & Gamble fortune, and designed in 1908, the summer home has become one of L.A.’s most-loved residences. 

The Gamble House
The Gamble House
Creative Commons image by ehpien

6. Taliesin West

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12621 N Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd
Scottsdale, AZ 85259

Originally designed and built in 1937 as a reflection of the desert landscape (petroglyphs discovered onsite formed a basis for a motif found throughout), Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter camp for the Taliesin Fellowship offers a striking model of his philosophy, and functions as the home of the foundation that protects his legacy. This was a workshop for Wright, both a center for instruction and a constantly evolving creation (after returning each summer, he would quickly circle the site, hammer in hand). At the very beginning stages of a large-scale restoration effort, this is one of the 10 Wright projects nominated for UNESCO World Heritage recognition, along with the original Taliesin in Spring Green, WIsconsin. 

Taliesin West
Taliesin West
Images by Andrew Pielage via Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation

7. Judd Foundation

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104 Highland St
Marfa, TX 79843

The Judd Foundation spaces in Marfa, Texas, may appear more museum than home, especially considering the numerous studios and architecture offices spread among the sprawling town centered on a former Army base turned art mecca (don’t forget the famous middle-of-nowhere Prada store courtesy Ballroom Marfa). But the private residence of Donald Judd, set inside La Mansana de Chinati, or The Block, a former Quartermaster Corps office turned city block-sized development, is an adobe walled-home complete with a garden and Judd-designed furniture. Set within the larger complex, which provides unheard-of space to artists, the home suggests not merely a sense of freedom and Southwestern flourishes. Taken as part of a larger vision, Judd’s home and studios represents a different model of art, creative practice, and large-scale installations.

Judd Foundation
The Art Studio, Marfa, TX Image © Judd Foundation Licensed by VAGA
The Art Studio, Marfa, TX. Image © Judd Foundation. Licensed by VAGA

8. Whitney Plantation

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5099 LA-18
Edgard, LA 70049

While there certainly are grander, more opulent plantation homes across the South, it’s hard to imagine one that offers both architectural history and a true reckoning of what these buildings represented to those who toiled in the nearby fields. The centerpiece of the first museum in the United States dedicated to telling the story of slavery, the architecturally significant grand French Creole mansion on the grounds, seems meant to be glimpsed at from inside the recreated slave jail. The home sits amid a collection of slave cabins, artwork, and a granite memorial etched with the names of 107,000 slaves who were forcibly brought to the state before 1820. Since re-opening in 2014, this plantation has stood apart from other such buildings on River Road. 

Whitney Plantation
Whitney Plantation
Creative Commons Image by Corey Balazowich

9. Farnsworth House

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14520 River Rd
Plano, IL 60545

“The essentials for living are floor and roof. Everything else is proportion and nature.” Modernist figurehead Ludwig Mies van der Rohe certainly focus on the essentials with this raised, glass-encased weekend retreat for Chicago Doctor Edith Farnsworth. Finished in 1951 despite a falling out with the client, this monument to minimalism would become a huge influence, both to other architects (Philip Johnson saw early sketches of the project before designing the Glass House) and Mies himself (the beginnings of Crown Hall can be found here). Set upon steel columns meant to lift the home above regular floodwaters—which have occasionally risen above the floor—the home appears to hover above the site. The extreme openness that comes with being surrounded by glass walls is modulated by the private nature of the site and surrounding woods, giving the seemingly exposed structure a sense of sanctuary and serenity. 

Farnsworth House
Farnsworth House
Creative Commons Image by jalbertgagnier

10. John J. Glessner House

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1800 S Prairie Ave
Chicago, IL 60616

Sullivan, van der Rohe, Wright: All iconic designers who made Chicago an international center for architecture, and all admirers of this historic landmark in the city’s elite Prairie Avenue District. Architect Henry Hobson Richardson’s most notable creation and final work, a severe looking, castle-like structure finished in 1887, conceals a revolutionary layout. Recognizing that construction advances meant thinner, stronger walls and a new relationship between form and function, Richardson pushed exterior walls to the edge of the property and planted a vast private courtyard in the center of the lot, allowing for a private, light-filled urban residence. The home became a prototype of urban design, signifying a decidedly modern shift in building layouts, and conceals a magnificently appointed interior

William Zbaren

11. Miller House

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506 5th St
Columbus, IN 47201

The work of many of the leading lights of Modernism come together at this glass-walled Midwestern home: architect Eero Saarinen, interior designer Alexander Gerard, landscape architect Dan Kiley, and owner, industrialist and philanthropist J. Irwin Miller, whose vision turned Columbus, Indiana, into an architectural “Athens of the Prairie.” The streamlined exterior and 10-acre lawn, featuring two rows of honey locust tree, just hints at the colorful, open interior, accents with Gerard’s playful patterns and an iconic sunken conversation pit

Miller House
Miller House
Balthazar Korab/Library of Congress

12. Alden Dow House

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315 Post St
Midland, MI 48640

A scion of the Dow Chemical Company founder, Alden Dow made a name for himself with beautiful, naturalistic architecture, designing with the motto “gardens never end and buildings never begin” in mind. His own home, studio and garden, built in the hometown of his father’s firm during the ‘30s, lives on as perhaps his finest work, a fusion of Wright-inspired Prairie principles (Dow spent a year at Taliesin) and his own material and geometric experimentation. Viewed from across the pond—which wraps around his artfully sunken conference room—the home’s slanted green copper roof and white “Unit Block” walls, formed from residue from the Dow Chemical plant, offers a sweeping example of organic design. 

Alden B. Dow House
Alden B. Dow House
Creative Commons Image by Bryan Robb

13. Saarinen House

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39221 Woodward Ave
Bloomfield Hills, MI 48304

Eliel Saarinen’s greatest creation may have been the freewheeling curriculum at the Cranbrook Academy of Fine Arts in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, which gave a generation of designers such as the Eames, Florence Knoll, and his own son Eero the freedom to explore and experiment. But the storybook campus he designed is certainly a close second. In the midst of 225 acres of land bordering the River Rouge and Kingswood Lake, he created a series of residences and educational facilities, including the home on Academy Lane he shared with his wife Loja and Eero. As befitting Saarinen’s belief in a total work of art, the home, a blend of Art Deco and Arts and Crafts styles, features Elliel’s furniture, Loja’s textiles, and early furniture designed by their son. The dining room, a layered series of circles, squares, and octagons accented with traditional wall hangings, exudes hidden details (the rug’s octagonal pattern recalled snow drifts on the similarly shaped tiles outside). This level of precision earned Saarinen’s entire campus plan exceptional praise at the time as an "educational and cultural center of unusual beauty.”

Saarinen House
Saarinen House

14. Ringling Mansion (Ca’ d’Zan)

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5401 Bay Shore Rd
Sarasota, FL 34243

Built during the height of the ‘20s boom, this Venetian-style home in Sarasota was the Ringling family’s tribute to Venice (the name itself means “House of John”). Circus owner John Ringling and his wife Mable commissioned this stunning waterfront home, based in part on Doge’s Palace and other locations they had discovered during extensive overseas travel, for $1.6 million, covering it in terra cotta and roof tiles imported from Spain. While the lavish and colorful 36,000-square-foot home was a haunt for celebrities—a crystal chandelier from the original Waldorf-Astoria hangs inside—it fell into disrepair, at one point standing in for Miss Havisham’s home in a remake of Great Expectations. It’s since been reopened to the public after a $15 million renovation project.

Ringling Mansion
Ringling Mansion
Creative Commons Image by Roger W

15. Biltmore Estate

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1 Lodge St
Asheville, NC 28803

At the largest private residence ever built in the United States, superlatives abound. George Washington Vanderbilt II spared no expense at his 125,000-acre estate in Asheville, North Carolina, which features the work of celebrated architect Richard Morris Hunt and landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. Said to be modeled after three historic French chateaus in the Loire Valley, the sprawling estate may appear to be modeled after all of them, since the combined living space inside the numerous buildings totals 178,926 square feet (roughly four acres). To construct the home, a project which lasted from 1889 to 1896, a brick kiln and woodworking factory were built on site. The four-story home, divided into two wings, offers commanding views of the Blue Ridge Mountains as well as a vast collection of incredible statues, artwork and architectural eye candy, including a 70,000-gallon indoor pool, bowling alley, winter garden, 1,700-pound chandelier and a magnificent limestone staircase. Designated a national historic landmark in 1964, it’s currently a major tourist attraction and draws nearly a million visitors annually.

Biltmore Estate
Biltmore Estate
Creative Commons Image by Jennifer Boyer

16. Vizcaya

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3251 S Miami Ave
Miami, FL 33129

Placed amid 180 acres of mangrove swamp and tropical forest, the “Hearst Castle of the East” is noteworthy for adapting Mediterranean and European architectural styles to the balmy Florida coast (the name references a northern Spanish province). French and Italian styles are reflected in the garden and façade, designed by Colombian Diego Suarez and F. Burrall Hoffman, respectively. Owner James Deering, who derived his fortune from being an executive at the family business, Deering McCormick-International Harvester, even created his own crest of sorts for the estate, a caravel, a type of Spanish ship. The home reportedly cost $26 million to build in 1916 and employed 1,000 workers.  

Vizcaya
Vizcaya

17. Fallingwater

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1491 Mill Run Rd
Mill Run, PA 15464

As Donald Hoffman notes in his book about this iconic home’s history, numerous streams run down the Appalachians throughout Western Pennsylvania, but Bear Run, the one ingeniously channeled through Frank Lloyd Wright’s magnificent Fallingwater, probably has the real claim to fame. The waterway’s steep drop on an elevated piece of woodland property owned by Edgar and Liliane Kaufmann, forms the dramatic nexus of Wright’s most famous example of organic architecture, a home of interlocking, cantilevered concrete terraces designed in 1935 and arranged so that a waterfall runs through it. This might be the most famous home on the list, but despite all the accolades, photos, and features, there’s still something remarkable about hearing rushing water in the middle of a living room. 

Fallingwater
Fallingwater Lead

18. Darwin D. Martin House

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125 Jewett Pkwy
Buffalo, NY 14214

Sibling rivalry may have played a small part in the decision of Buffalo businessman Darwin D. Martin, who worked for the Larkin Soap Company, to hire Frank Lloyd Wright to create his home, a Prairie-style icon that would be among the architect’s best works. After his brother, William, had Wright design him a home in Oak Park, Darwin brought Wright out to western New York and commissioned a complex of buildings, including the lengthy, open-plan main residence, one of the largest of its type ever built (Martin supposedly granted Wright an unlimited budget). Currently undergoing the finishing touches of a huge renovation, the main house and adjacent buildings feature a wealth of Wright-designed art glass, which casts jewel-like tones across this residential masterpiece. 

Darwin Martin House by Frank Lloyd Wright. The house has a multicolor brick facade with various terraced levels. Darwin-Martin House

19. Monticello

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931 Thomas Jefferson Pkwy
Charlottesville, VA 22902

No disrespect to the White House, but Thomas Jefferson’s “Little Mountain” offers a pinnacle of presidential architecture. The Piedmont villa, designed with Palladian principles in mind, was the statesman’s own creation, a fusion of classical elements, European style, and his own design solutions that served as the centerpiece of his large plantation. A restless thinker, Jefferson constantly tinkered with and redesigned his final home, adding personal touches such as an octagonal dome and vast library. 

Montivello
Monticello
Wikimedia Commons

20. Mount Vernon

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3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Hwy
Mt Vernon, VA 22121

While it was actually named after an English military figure, Vice Admiral Edward Vernon, this eccentric example of period architecture is quintessentially American. Located less than 15 miles from the nation’s capital on a stretch of Fairfax County near the Potomac River, the plantation home of George Washington is a symbol of the gentleman planter, founding father, and slave owner, as well as his own lifelong interest in architecture. Washington oversaw numerous renovations of his home throughout his life—his idea for a two-story piazza was widely copied—and the resulting historic attraction is a grab bag of Palladian, Classical, and Colonial influences.

Mount Vernon Creative Commons Image by Christopher Bowns

21. Winterthur

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5105 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE 19807

While it was funded by the fortunes of a chemical company, Winterthur stands as a paean to handcrafts and horticulture. Originally a modest 12-room Greek revival manor in the Brandywine Valley, Winterthur became the homestead of the Du Pont family, expanded over the decades as the family’s business and fortunes multiplied. Its most notable resident and renovator was Henry Francis du Pont, who took responsibility for the estate in 1914 and transformed it into a sprawling, 175-room center for his passions: art, agriculture, and American furniture and decorative arts. He collected so much, in fact, that he eventually turned Winterthur into a museum that opened to the public in 1951.

Winterthur
Winterthur
Wikimedia Commons

22. Manitoga

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584 NY-9D
Garrison, NY 10524

Midcentury designer Russel Wright, best known for his American Modern line of ceramic dinnerware and influential Guide to Easier Living book, carved this mountain sanctuary and home studio from an old granite quarry. Set above a pond and nicknamed Dragon Rock, the home shows Wright, a former set designer, expertly staging a meeting of man and nature, with a low-slung, Japanese-inspired exterior blending into the granite cliffs and surrounding woodlands. Inside, Wright’s mastery of materials is on full display, with sliding doors made of pressed ferns and butterflies and a ceiling embedded with pine needles. It’s no surprise this was the first home featured in Life magazine upon its completion in 1961.

Manitoga
Manitoga

23. Lyndhurst

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635 S Broadway
Tarrytown, NY 10591

A towering stone castle built along the Hudson River, this limestone manse and country house once owned by robber baron Jay Gould exudes a romantic character, owing in part to its asymmetrical design and steep, Medieval roof, ornamented with rows of crenellations and turrets. Originally designed by Alexander Jackson Davis in 1838, the home was expanded over the decades, eventually given a striking garden with rolling hills and a steel-framed conservatory. Filled with English accents and Tiffany windows, it’s one of the finest examples of Gothic Revival in the country.  

24. Glass House

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199 Elm St
New Canaan, CT 06840

“I have very expensive wallpaper,” quipped Philip Johnson, the creator of this deceptively simple, 56-foot-long glass enclosure in Connecticut that has become shorthand for contemporary architecture. In many ways an apex of the modern architectural thought that came before it, from German Glass House pavilions and modernist theory to Mies van der Rohe’s planar layout for the Farnsworth House, Johnson’s relatively simple dwelling, finished in 1949, created a revelation over its promotion of concepts we take for granted today, such as glass curtain walls and open plan living. The recently refurbished sculpture gallery, one of many additional buildings on site, is another great draw.

25. Oheka Castle

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135 W Gate Dr
Huntington, NY 11743

Considered an exemplar of Gilded Age excess—on pristine grounds designed by the Olmstead Brothers, owner Otto Kahn would hold annual Easter Egg hunts featuring gold eggs concealing thousand-dollar bills—this is a truly Gatsbyesque manse on Long Island’s Gold Coast, situated on the highest point overlooking Cold Spring Harbor. Kahn, a wealthy financier, commissioned the duo of Delano and Aldrich to build this steel-and-concrete estate after his previous home was ruined in a fire. They responded with a 137-room paean to European architecture, a summer home that would have cost roughly $110 million in today’s money. Falling into disrepair after Kahn’s death, Oheka has cycled through a number of owners and failed renovations, and now operates as an historic hotel. 

Oheka Castle
Oheka Castle
Image via Wikimedia Commons

26. Gropius House

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68 Baker Bridge Rd
Lincoln, MA 01773

Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius put his principles to practice when designing this home for his family in 1938, after he was offered a teaching post at Harvard. The German architect simply considered it his take on regional design, complete with a brick and clapboad facade. But, of course, one of the first International Style homes in the United States was far from what you’d expect from a standard New England neighbor (one of whom referred to the influential design as a “chicken coop”). The home’s stark, white exterior and unique material composition, including glass block and chrome banisters, offered a radical blend of the old and new, turning a post and beam frame home into a modernist statement. Designed in concert with Marcel Breuer, it is, according to Gropius student I. M. Pei, his teacher’s “definitive statement of domestic architecture.” Now a National Landmark, the home contains one of the largest collection of Bauhaus furniture outside of Europe. 

Gropius House
Gropius House
Library of Congress

27. The Breakers

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44 Ochre Point Ave
Newport, RI 02840

It’s revealing that when Cornelius Vanderbilt II set out to build a summer cottage in Rhode Island in 1885, he ended up commissioning a 70-room Italian Renaissance-style palazzo that stands as one of the grandest in a string of extravagant Newport Estates. The Vanderbilt summer home, designed by Richard Morris Hunt, stands as an exemplary Beaux Arts creation, featuring imported marble (including a blue marble fireplace), rare wood and a massive central hall. Hunt used the Renaissance palaces of Genoa as his model for the mansion, which contains a series of open-air terraces looking out at the ocean.

The Breakers
The Breakers
Creative Commons image by Heather and Matt

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1. Hearst Castle

750 Hearst Castle Rd, San Simeon, CA 93452
Hearst Castle
Hearst Castle
Creative Commons Image by Bri

The inspiration for Xanadu in Orson Welles’s classic film Citizen Kane, William Randolph Hearst’s castle in San Simeon was built on family land where he would take camping trips as a child. Architect Julia Morgan designed the ranch and hilltop estate based on the newspaper tycoon’s eclectic tastes, including Spanish themes. "La Cuesta Encantada" ("The Enchanted Hill") became a sprawling enterprise, complete with the nation’s largest private zoo, a movie theater, the Neptune Pool (which contained the façade of a Roman temple Hearst imported from Europe) and a private power plant. A perfectionist, Hearst often ordered different sections to be redesigned and rebuilt; Morgan started pitching ideas in 1915, but the project still was incomplete by the time Hearst died in 1951.

750 Hearst Castle Rd
San Simeon, CA 93452

2. Eames House

203 Chautauqua Blvd, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
Eames House
Eames House
Carol Highsmith/Library of Congress

Anybody convinced that modern design means cold edges and a stark palette need only peek inside the exuberant home Ray and Charles Eames designed for themselves in 1949. Commissioned as part of Art & Architecture magazine’s Case Study program and placed amid a eucalyptus grove in the Pacific Palisades, the prefab exterior, a Mondrian-like assembly of off-the-shelf parts—colorful panels, glass, and steel—conceals a playful and living room. The inspiring, oft-photographed space, an artful array of toys, tchotchkes, and furniture reassembled piece-by-piece as part of the epic “California Design” exhibit, embodies the couple’s imaginative and all-encompassing design philosophy. 

203 Chautauqua Blvd
Pacific Palisades, CA 90272

3. Schindler House

835 N Kings Rd, West Hollywood, CA 90069
Schindler House
Schindler House

A radical departure from architectural convention at the time it was built in 1922, R.M. Schindler’s experiment in shared space, separated by sliding glass panels, came from an unlikely inspiration: a vacation village at Yosemite National Park. The layout of those shared campsites gave Schindler the idea of creating a live-work space appropriate for two families, a pair of L-shaped apartments with two studios and a utility room apiece. While it may not look it from the road, the home’s then-unique blurring of interior and exterior created a precedent, Also known as the Schindler Chace House, since his friend Clyde Chace and his wife were the first family to share the home with Schindler (Richard Neutra was next), this unique building was a early Modernist classic, and is now the headquarters for the MAK Center for Art & Architecture.

835 N Kings Rd
West Hollywood, CA 90069

4. Hollyhock House

4800 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027
The Hollyhock House by Frank Lloyd Wright. The interior has couches, tables, a fireplace, and a skylight with wooden slats. The wall above the fireplace is brown brick. There is a tan floor.
Hollyhock House
Elizabeth Daniels

Finally restored to its true ‘20s glamour, Frank Lloyd Wright’s most stunning work in California was based in part around oil heiress Aline Barnsdall’s favorite flower, found sprouting in the central courtyard and etched into the home, via abstract motifs the appear throughout. In many ways, this Mayan revival home, an elaborate stucco residence perched on a 36-acre hilltop site, planted the seed of California Modernism, according to curator Jeffrey Herr. Filled with Japanese influences and Wright-designed furniture, the centerpiece is the elaborate fireplace, which some believe is an abstract representation of Barnsdall as an Indian Princess.  

4800 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027

5. The Gamble House

4 Westmoreland Pl, Pasadena, CA 91103
The Gamble House
The Gamble House
Creative Commons image by ehpien

A lot of weighty associations are attached to this airy Pasadena home and its gabled roofs: it’s the finest surviving example of architectural duo Greene and Greene’s work, an exemplary California bungalow, and a high point of the Arts and Crafts movement. But its romantic silhouettes, Japanese influences, and exemplary woodwork also point to an early example of Southern California cool, a thoroughly modern attempt to create a building wedded to the climate (note the numerous sleeping porches). Commissioned by David Gamble, an heir to the Procter & Gamble fortune, and designed in 1908, the summer home has become one of L.A.’s most-loved residences. 

4 Westmoreland Pl
Pasadena, CA 91103

6. Taliesin West

12621 N Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd, Scottsdale, AZ 85259
Taliesin West
Taliesin West
Images by Andrew Pielage via Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation

Originally designed and built in 1937 as a reflection of the desert landscape (petroglyphs discovered onsite formed a basis for a motif found throughout), Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter camp for the Taliesin Fellowship offers a striking model of his philosophy, and functions as the home of the foundation that protects his legacy. This was a workshop for Wright, both a center for instruction and a constantly evolving creation (after returning each summer, he would quickly circle the site, hammer in hand). At the very beginning stages of a large-scale restoration effort, this is one of the 10 Wright projects nominated for UNESCO World Heritage recognition, along with the original Taliesin in Spring Green, WIsconsin. 

12621 N Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd
Scottsdale, AZ 85259

7. Judd Foundation

104 Highland St, Marfa, TX 79843
Judd Foundation
The Art Studio, Marfa, TX Image © Judd Foundation Licensed by VAGA
The Art Studio, Marfa, TX. Image © Judd Foundation. Licensed by VAGA

The Judd Foundation spaces in Marfa, Texas, may appear more museum than home, especially considering the numerous studios and architecture offices spread among the sprawling town centered on a former Army base turned art mecca (don’t forget the famous middle-of-nowhere Prada store courtesy Ballroom Marfa). But the private residence of Donald Judd, set inside La Mansana de Chinati, or The Block, a former Quartermaster Corps office turned city block-sized development, is an adobe walled-home complete with a garden and Judd-designed furniture. Set within the larger complex, which provides unheard-of space to artists, the home suggests not merely a sense of freedom and Southwestern flourishes. Taken as part of a larger vision, Judd’s home and studios represents a different model of art, creative practice, and large-scale installations.

104 Highland St
Marfa, TX 79843

8. Whitney Plantation

5099 LA-18, Edgard, LA 70049
Whitney Plantation
Whitney Plantation
Creative Commons Image by Corey Balazowich

While there certainly are grander, more opulent plantation homes across the South, it’s hard to imagine one that offers both architectural history and a true reckoning of what these buildings represented to those who toiled in the nearby fields. The centerpiece of the first museum in the United States dedicated to telling the story of slavery, the architecturally significant grand French Creole mansion on the grounds, seems meant to be glimpsed at from inside the recreated slave jail. The home sits amid a collection of slave cabins, artwork, and a granite memorial etched with the names of 107,000 slaves who were forcibly brought to the state before 1820. Since re-opening in 2014, this plantation has stood apart from other such buildings on River Road. 

5099 LA-18
Edgard, LA 70049

9. Farnsworth House

14520 River Rd, Plano, IL 60545
Farnsworth House
Farnsworth House
Creative Commons Image by jalbertgagnier

“The essentials for living are floor and roof. Everything else is proportion and nature.” Modernist figurehead Ludwig Mies van der Rohe certainly focus on the essentials with this raised, glass-encased weekend retreat for Chicago Doctor Edith Farnsworth. Finished in 1951 despite a falling out with the client, this monument to minimalism would become a huge influence, both to other architects (Philip Johnson saw early sketches of the project before designing the Glass House) and Mies himself (the beginnings of Crown Hall can be found here). Set upon steel columns meant to lift the home above regular floodwaters—which have occasionally risen above the floor—the home appears to hover above the site. The extreme openness that comes with being surrounded by glass walls is modulated by the private nature of the site and surrounding woods, giving the seemingly exposed structure a sense of sanctuary and serenity. 

14520 River Rd
Plano, IL 60545

10. John J. Glessner House

1800 S Prairie Ave, Chicago, IL 60616
William Zbaren

Sullivan, van der Rohe, Wright: All iconic designers who made Chicago an international center for architecture, and all admirers of this historic landmark in the city’s elite Prairie Avenue District. Architect Henry Hobson Richardson’s most notable creation and final work, a severe looking, castle-like structure finished in 1887, conceals a revolutionary layout. Recognizing that construction advances meant thinner, stronger walls and a new relationship between form and function, Richardson pushed exterior walls to the edge of the property and planted a vast private courtyard in the center of the lot, allowing for a private, light-filled urban residence. The home became a prototype of urban design, signifying a decidedly modern shift in building layouts, and conceals a magnificently appointed interior

1800 S Prairie Ave
Chicago, IL 60616

11. Miller House

506 5th St, Columbus, IN 47201
Miller House
Miller House
Balthazar Korab/Library of Congress

The work of many of the leading lights of Modernism come together at this glass-walled Midwestern home: architect Eero Saarinen, interior designer Alexander Gerard, landscape architect Dan Kiley, and owner, industrialist and philanthropist J. Irwin Miller, whose vision turned Columbus, Indiana, into an architectural “Athens of the Prairie.” The streamlined exterior and 10-acre lawn, featuring two rows of honey locust tree, just hints at the colorful, open interior, accents with Gerard’s playful patterns and an iconic sunken conversation pit

506 5th St
Columbus, IN 47201

12. Alden Dow House

315 Post St, Midland, MI 48640
Alden B. Dow House
Alden B. Dow House
Creative Commons Image by Bryan Robb

A scion of the Dow Chemical Company founder, Alden Dow made a name for himself with beautiful, naturalistic architecture, designing with the motto “gardens never end and buildings never begin” in mind. His own home, studio and garden, built in the hometown of his father’s firm during the ‘30s, lives on as perhaps his finest work, a fusion of Wright-inspired Prairie principles (Dow spent a year at Taliesin) and his own material and geometric experimentation. Viewed from across the pond—which wraps around his artfully sunken conference room—the home’s slanted green copper roof and white “Unit Block” walls, formed from residue from the Dow Chemical plant, offers a sweeping example of organic design. 

315 Post St
Midland, MI 48640

13. Saarinen House

39221 Woodward Ave, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48304
Saarinen House
Saarinen House

Eliel Saarinen’s greatest creation may have been the freewheeling curriculum at the Cranbrook Academy of Fine Arts in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, which gave a generation of designers such as the Eames, Florence Knoll, and his own son Eero the freedom to explore and experiment. But the storybook campus he designed is certainly a close second. In the midst of 225 acres of land bordering the River Rouge and Kingswood Lake, he created a series of residences and educational facilities, including the home on Academy Lane he shared with his wife Loja and Eero. As befitting Saarinen’s belief in a total work of art, the home, a blend of Art Deco and Arts and Crafts styles, features Elliel’s furniture, Loja’s textiles, and early furniture designed by their son. The dining room, a layered series of circles, squares, and octagons accented with traditional wall hangings, exudes hidden details (the rug’s octagonal pattern recalled snow drifts on the similarly shaped tiles outside). This level of precision earned Saarinen’s entire campus plan exceptional praise at the time as an "educational and cultural center of unusual beauty.”

39221 Woodward Ave
Bloomfield Hills, MI 48304

14. Ringling Mansion (Ca’ d’Zan)

5401 Bay Shore Rd, Sarasota, FL 34243
Ringling Mansion
Ringling Mansion
Creative Commons Image by Roger W

Built during the height of the ‘20s boom, this Venetian-style home in Sarasota was the Ringling family’s tribute to Venice (the name itself means “House of John”). Circus owner John Ringling and his wife Mable commissioned this stunning waterfront home, based in part on Doge’s Palace and other locations they had discovered during extensive overseas travel, for $1.6 million, covering it in terra cotta and roof tiles imported from Spain. While the lavish and colorful 36,000-square-foot home was a haunt for celebrities—a crystal chandelier from the original Waldorf-Astoria hangs inside—it fell into disrepair, at one point standing in for Miss Havisham’s home in a remake of Great Expectations. It’s since been reopened to the public after a $15 million renovation project.

5401 Bay Shore Rd
Sarasota, FL 34243

15. Biltmore Estate

1 Lodge St, Asheville, NC 28803
Biltmore Estate
Biltmore Estate
Creative Commons Image by Jennifer Boyer

At the largest private residence ever built in the United States, superlatives abound. George Washington Vanderbilt II spared no expense at his 125,000-acre estate in Asheville, North Carolina, which features the work of celebrated architect Richard Morris Hunt and landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. Said to be modeled after three historic French chateaus in the Loire Valley, the sprawling estate may appear to be modeled after all of them, since the combined living space inside the numerous buildings totals 178,926 square feet (roughly four acres). To construct the home, a project which lasted from 1889 to 1896, a brick kiln and woodworking factory were built on site. The four-story home, divided into two wings, offers commanding views of the Blue Ridge Mountains as well as a vast collection of incredible statues, artwork and architectural eye candy, including a 70,000-gallon indoor pool, bowling alley, winter garden, 1,700-pound chandelier and a magnificent limestone staircase. Designated a national historic landmark in 1964, it’s currently a major tourist attraction and draws nearly a million visitors annually.

1 Lodge St
Asheville, NC 28803

16. Vizcaya

3251 S Miami Ave, Miami, FL 33129
Vizcaya
Vizcaya

Placed amid 180 acres of mangrove swamp and tropical forest, the “Hearst Castle of the East” is noteworthy for adapting Mediterranean and European architectural styles to the balmy Florida coast (the name references a northern Spanish province). French and Italian styles are reflected in the garden and façade, designed by Colombian Diego Suarez and F. Burrall Hoffman, respectively. Owner James Deering, who derived his fortune from being an executive at the family business, Deering McCormick-International Harvester, even created his own crest of sorts for the estate, a caravel, a type of Spanish ship. The home reportedly cost $26 million to build in 1916 and employed 1,000 workers.  

3251 S Miami Ave
Miami, FL 33129

17. Fallingwater

1491 Mill Run Rd, Mill Run, PA 15464
Fallingwater
Fallingwater Lead

As Donald Hoffman notes in his book about this iconic home’s history, numerous streams run down the Appalachians throughout Western Pennsylvania, but Bear Run, the one ingeniously channeled through Frank Lloyd Wright’s magnificent Fallingwater, probably has the real claim to fame. The waterway’s steep drop on an elevated piece of woodland property owned by Edgar and Liliane Kaufmann, forms the dramatic nexus of Wright’s most famous example of organic architecture, a home of interlocking, cantilevered concrete terraces designed in 1935 and arranged so that a waterfall runs through it. This might be the most famous home on the list, but despite all the accolades, photos, and features, there’s still something remarkable about hearing rushing water in the middle of a living room. 

1491 Mill Run Rd
Mill Run, PA 15464

18. Darwin D. Martin House

125 Jewett Pkwy, Buffalo, NY 14214
Darwin Martin House by Frank Lloyd Wright. The house has a multicolor brick facade with various terraced levels. Darwin-Martin House

Sibling rivalry may have played a small part in the decision of Buffalo businessman Darwin D. Martin, who worked for the Larkin Soap Company, to hire Frank Lloyd Wright to create his home, a Prairie-style icon that would be among the architect’s best works. After his brother, William, had Wright design him a home in Oak Park, Darwin brought Wright out to western New York and commissioned a complex of buildings, including the lengthy, open-plan main residence, one of the largest of its type ever built (Martin supposedly granted Wright an unlimited budget). Currently undergoing the finishing touches of a huge renovation, the main house and adjacent buildings feature a wealth of Wright-designed art glass, which casts jewel-like tones across this residential masterpiece. 

125 Jewett Pkwy
Buffalo, NY 14214

19. Monticello

931 Thomas Jefferson Pkwy, Charlottesville, VA 22902
Montivello
Monticello
Wikimedia Commons

No disrespect to the White House, but Thomas Jefferson’s “Little Mountain” offers a pinnacle of presidential architecture. The Piedmont villa, designed with Palladian principles in mind, was the statesman’s own creation, a fusion of classical elements, European style, and his own design solutions that served as the centerpiece of his large plantation. A restless thinker, Jefferson constantly tinkered with and redesigned his final home, adding personal touches such as an octagonal dome and vast library. 

931 Thomas Jefferson Pkwy
Charlottesville, VA 22902

20. Mount Vernon

3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Hwy, Mt Vernon, VA 22121