What Are America’s Most Iconic Homes?

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

(Model by Studios Eichbaum + Arnold, 2010. Photo by Museum staff.)

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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