What Are America’s Most Iconic Homes?- page 5 | History | Smithsonian
(Model by Studios Eichbaum + Arnold, 2010. Photo by Museum staff.)

What Are America’s Most Iconic Homes?

According to the National Building Museum, these houses, more than most, have impacted the way we live

William G. Low House

Low House Rhode Island
(Model by Studios Eichbaum + Arnold, 2010. Photo by Museum staff.)
The William G. Low House, built in 1887 and demolished in 1962, was very much a product of its time. “It is just past the centennial,” says Mellins. “The country is old enough by the time this is built to have a past.” The firm McKim, Mead & White designed the seaside home in Bristol, Rhode Island, to reflect that past. The house is rooted in colonial building traditions, and yet its scale is exaggerated, reflecting a growing affluence in America.

The prominent feature of the William G. Low House is its sprawling, 140-foot-long gable. “The roof was the house,” wrote architectural historian Richard Guy Wilson.

The residence is regarded as a signature example of Shingle-style architecture, a genre known for simple geometries, flat, shingled surfaces and horizontality. “This continues to be a popular building vocabulary,” says Mellins.

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