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.)

Mount Vernon

Mount Vernon Alexandria
(Model by Studios Eichbaum + Arnold, 2011. Photo by Museum staff.)
George Washington’s Georgian-style plantation home near Alexandria, Virginia, is, arguably, the most emulated house in America. “This house can be seen in various forms all across the country in every region,” says Mellins. “There are Howard Johnson’s restaurants that are going on this. There are banks. There are funeral parlors. This becomes sort of a typical architectural image.”

In the 1920s, Sears, Roebuck and Co. even sold a mail-order home modeled after Mount Vernon, confusingly called “The Jefferson.” As the catalog billed, the eight-bedroom, two-bath southern colonial “spells success.” The design called for a whitewashed brick exterior, borrowing from Mount Vernon’s look. Washington’s home is sided in wood, but the wood is covered with white paint laced with sand to give the appearance of stone blocks. The Sears blueprint also included a front porch that bore a resemblance to Mount Vernon’s back porch, facing the Potomac River. “The outdoor porch is a key element of the American home that resonates through to today,” says Mellins.

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