59 mid century and modern historic house museums that you can visit

59 historic mid-century houses you can visit -- researched by retrorenovation.com


Gordon House FLW 1957 Silverton, OR Eugene O'Neill House 1937 Danville, CA Schindler House 1922 West Hollywood, CA Eames House 1949 Pacific Palisades, CA Stahl House 1959 Hollywood, CA Neutra VDL House 1933, Los Angeles, CA Hollyhock House FLW 1917 Los Angeles, CA Leo Carillo Ranch 1937 Carlsbad, CA Sinatra Twin Palms 1947 Palm Springs, CA Elvis’ Honeymoon House 1960 Palm Springs, CA Sunnylands 1966 Rancho Mirage, CA Clark Co. Museum Heritage Street Henderson, NV Morelli House 1959, Las Vegas, NV Taliesin West FLW 1939 Scottsdale, AZ Georgia O’Keefe Home/Studio renovated 1945, Abiquiu, NM Barton County Museum Lustron Home Great Bend, KS Allen-Lambe House FLW 1915 Wichita, KS LBJ Ranch Remodeled 1951 Stonewall, TX Wilson House 1959 Temple, TX 1950s All Electric House 1954 Shawnee, KS Winston Guest House 1982 Owatonna, MN Stockman House FLW 1908 Mason City, IA Taliesin 1911 FLW Spring Green, WI Murihead Farmhouse B&B FLW early 1950s Hampshire IL Fabyan Villa & Japanese Garden FLW 1907 Geneva, IL Dana-Thomas House FLW 1940 Springfield, IL Graceland remodeled 1957 Memphis, TN Rolling Meadows 1953 Ranch Replica Rolling Meadows, IL Farnsworth House 1951 Plano, IL Bradley House FLW 1900 Kankakee, IL Frank Lloyd Wright walking tour Oak Park, IL Robie House FLW 1910 Chicago, IL Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio 1889/1898 Chicago, IL Emil Bach House FLW 1910 Chicago, IL Miller House 1953 Columbus, IN Rosenbaum House FLW 1939 Florence, AL Alden B. Dow Home & Studio 1941 Midland, MI Saarinen House 1920s Bloomfield Hills, MI Dymaxion House 1946 Dearborn, MI Weltzheimer/Johnson House FLW 1948 Oberlin, OH Ohio Historical Society Lustron Home Columbus, Ohio Carl Sandburg Home 1838 Flat Rock, NC Kentuk Knob FLW 1956 Chalk Hill, PA Fallingwater FLW 1935 Mill Run, PA Martin House Complex FLW 1903-1905 Buffalo, NY Graycliff FLW 1926-1931 Derby, NY Shoe House 1948 York, PA Eisenhower National Historic Site 1950 Gettysburg, PA Hillwood Estate Museum & Gardens remodeled 1955 Washington, DC Pope-Leighey House FLW 1940 Alexandria, VA Wharton Esherick Museum 1926 Malvern, PA Russel Wright’s Manitoga & Dragon Rock 1961 Garrison, NY Guest House, Field Farm 1960 Williamstown, MA Frelinghuysen Morris House 1930-1942, Lennox, MA Philip Johnson Glass House 1949 New Canaan, CT<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
Louis Armstrong House Museum 1910 remodeled 1940s, Queens, NY Pollock/Krasner House & Study Center 1879 East Hampton, NY<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
Gropius House 1938 Lincoln, MA Zimmerman House FLW 1950 Manchester, NH

Historic house museums aren’t just for Early American revolutionaries, pioneer settlers or Victorians any more. Yes, as appreciation for mid-20th century architecture has grown, so has the number of historic house museums. Kate and I have been working for several weeks to research and prepare what we believe is the first conclusive list of mid-century and modern historic house museums that you can visit and see. In the USA. In your Chevrolet, even.

Our list includes 59 mid century and modern house museums. A number of these are iconic, architect-designed “mid-century modern” masterpiece houses. But we also were somewhat liberal in including other early- and mid-20th historic houses that played key roles in the evolution of mid century residential architecture and the “modern” way we still live today. There are quite a few houses by Frank Lloyd Wright that fall into our “extremely influential” but not really “mid-century” category, for example.

Houses generally become “historic” for one of two reasons (or both): (1) Their architecture is special, or (2) Someone historic lived there. Reflecting this, the houses in our roundup are there for a variety of reasons — and we believe this diversity helps illuminate the story of mid-century America. In addition to the houses that are important examples of mid century and modern residential architecture, our list includes celebrity houses where Elvis, Sinatra, and Louis Armstrong lived… a number of “biographical” houses including from Russel Wright, Georgia O’Keefe, and Jackson Pollock and Louise Krasner… There are two presidential estates… and we dug and dug and dug to find two Lustron houses open to the public! We take the research all the way to one “post modern” house, a 1982 design by Frank Gehry. Don’t be harassing us, please, if you don’t like the way we sliced and diced the list; be nice; we were trying to show the love for 20th century modern and modern-esque houses that haven’t quite made it onto others’ formal lists yet. Also, we started to get cross-eyed after a while of hashing what’s “in” the list and “what’s out”. We kinda wanted to be done already.

Readers, did we miss any mid century or modern historic house museums?
If so, please let us know!

In all cases, the houses had to be open for tours. Some are open all the time. Some require reservations. So call ahead. Our map is interactive — hover over any of the dots to see the name and year of the house. Click on the dot to get to either the house’s website or, if we’ve written about the house, the link will take you to our story. With our stories, we always try to get lots of great photos — more than you are likely to see on the house’s website.

Read all our spotlight stories
with lots of “bonus” photos you won’t find on the house websites
by clicking here.
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Comments

  1. says

    Fantastic list! Thanks so much! I’ve been to about 4 or 5 places on the list but am very happy there are so many more places to discover.

  2. says

    Great list!! Thank you :) I’ve been to Georgia O’Keefe’s place – serene and beautiful – take the tour if you can –
    guess this list is just for MCM FLW? The Westcott House in Springfield Ohio is interesting, but it is Prairie Style, so…. My Hometown of Bakersfield Ca has a FLW house built in the late 1950′s and when I was about 8 yrs old we got to go on a tour – was PINK stucco ! of course I remember that :) and was/is on a hill and had windows all around, with a ‘wing’-like roof structure. Built for a Doctor Ablin and his family.

  3. pam kueber says

    Note to file, email from Illinois Preservation Agency:

    ….Firstly, I’d like to correct the date of construction of the Dana Thomas House in Springfield by FLW. It was built in 1904 not 1940.

    I’d like to submit additional sites for your consideration:

    The Park Forest (IL) Historic Society operates a 1950s house museum in one of the original 1948 townhouse units. Park Forest, IL is a nationally important postwar development.
    http://www.parkforesthistory.org/museum-home.html

    Connecticut College in New London, CT has two 1934 steel houses on its campus that it is in the process of restoring.
    http://www.conncoll.edu/news/news-archive/2011/rusty-the-steel-house-is-being-restored.htm

    The restored 1938 modernist Adlai Stevenson House and its 1937 service building in Mettawa, IL outside of Chicago are available for tours.
    http://www.lcfpd.org/preserves/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.view&object_id=24353

    This one probably doesn’t count, but I submit it anyway – there is a Futuro House (prefab fiberglass dwelling by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen, 1968) on the grounds of an antique mall in Livingston, IL. The shell remains, but the interior is gone. It’s publically accessible, at least.
    http://thegrumpyoldlimey.com/pages/Futuro-Livingstone-Illinois-USA.html

    Thanks for all you do to promote midcentury domestic architecture.

    Illinois Historic Preservation Agency

  4. Carolyn says

    This is the most amazing, generous accomplishment…in a site full of such things. What a fabulous resource you have created, one that is generating its own creative momentum–like ‘wikiretrohomepedia’ : )

  5. Max van Balgooy says

    Great list! I didn’t realize there were this many, but I have a couple more suggestions:

    1950s House at the Shelburne Museum near Burlington, Vermont
    Sam Maloof Home and Studio in Rancho Cucamonga, California
    J. Robert Oppenheimer House in Los Alamos, New Mexico (may not have opened yet as a house museum)

  6. says

    The Greenbelt Museum would be a great addition to the list. Greenbelt was one of three green towns constructed as New Deal projects, to provide an example of modern town planning as well as affordable housing for workers. The Museum is one of the original homes built in 1937, and is near the original school (now the community center), movie theater, and other public buildings.

  7. Piper McKinney says

    Hi Pam,
    I love your website. I wanted to mention that the Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville Arkansas has purchased a Frank Lloyd Wright Usonian home, but I’m not sure if it’s on display yet.

  8. Joe Felice says

    Note to file: Just put it out there and information will abound! I think it would be interesting to locate all the original Alcoa show homes that were built, and find out how many of them have been kept up or restored. (I believe there were 27, if my memory is correct.) I located the one in Denver, and drove by it. It is tenant occupied, and not well-maintained at all. In fact, it looked like a dump, which is sad on many levels, but especially considering it is in the Lakewood Country Club area, surrounded by high-priced, custom-built homes. I thought, if I had the money, I’d offer to purchase the home from the owner and restore it to its mid-century grandeur, the way Alcoa built it.

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