10 Houses on the National Register of Historic Places Worth Seeing
You can learn a lot about American history by visiting homes on the National Register of Historic Places. From various styles of architecture and design to how homes were furnished and how they have been preserved, our national landmarks speak volumes.
Many of these homes offer private or group tours, while some even offer online tours you can take from the comfort of your own home. If you’re headed out on the road this summer, take a look to see if any of these homes are on your route.
1. Lincoln Home, Springfield, Illinois
Follow in the footsteps of the 16th President of the United States with a visit to Abraham Lincoln’s home in Springfield, Illinois. Here, you can trace the history of the man who led the nation through the Civil War and fought for freedom and democracy.
The home is approximately 180 years old and has been kept in great condition. During the tour you’ll get a glimpse of the former parlor, dining room, Lincoln’s bedroom, and the kitchen.
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2. Winchester Mystery House, San Jose, California
Up for a bit of mystery and infamy? The Winchester Mystery House is a 160-room Victorian mansion built by Sarah L. Winchester, who was the wife of William Wirt Winchester, a rifle manufacturer. The couple had one child in 1866, who died about a month after birth, while William died a few years later.
Sarah was so upset about the deaths that she reportedly consulted a spiritualist who told her she needed to move out west and build a house to appease all the victims killed by Winchester rifles. She did just that in San Jose, California. Construction of the home went on around the clock until Sarah died in 1922. The Winchester Mystery House is built in the Queen Anne style at an estimated cost of $5 million and is a popular spot for not only tours, but weddings and other events.
3. Milwaukee Avenue Historic District, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Photo: Wiki Commons via August Schwerdfeger
In the heart of Minneapolis lies the Milwaukee Avenue Historic District, which was included on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. The avenue consists of modest brick homes with arched windows and fairytale-style porches built in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
In the 1970s, an urban renewal plan called for demolition of nearly 70 percent of housing in the surrounding neighborhood, including all the homes along Milwaukee Avenue. A grassroots group fought to save the historic homes and today, the narrow street has become a popular pedestrian way open to the public.
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4. Longfellow House, Cambridge Massachusetts
If you find yourself in Cambridge, Massachusetts, visit Longfellow House. Just a short walk from Harvard Square sits Washington’s Headquarters where you can learn about the history of slavery and freedom, along with the life of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and his impact on our country’s national identity. In addition, you’ll learn about George Washington’s stay at the house during the Siege of Boston. Take a guided tour and then spend some time in the formal garden.
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5. Mark Twain House, Hartford, Connecticut
Fans of writer Mark Twain can get a guided tour of his home in Hartford, Connecticut. Twain described his time in this High Victorian Gothic home as the happiest and most productive years of his life.
He and his wife Olivia started work on the house in 1873 and moved in the next year. It was then sold to the Bissell family in 1903. While it changed owners several times, it was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1963. It’s one of many historic homes you can also tour online.
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6. Historic Front Street Warehouses, Nashville, Tennessee
Want to live in a piece of history? The block-deep old warehouses that line Nashville’s former Front Street (now called First Avenue) face the Cumberland River and were used to handle bulk products such as dry goods, groceries and hardware. But as river shipping slowed, the buildings fell victim to years of neglect and were used only as warehouses.
Today, many are occupied on the ground floors by shops, entertainment venues, and restaurants, while many of the upper units have been converted to condos or loft-style apartments.
7. Bay View, Petoskey Michigan
Imagine a winding community lined by Victorian homes, many with large front porches, that overlook crystal blue waters and you have Bay View. This unique community in the heart of Petoskey, Michigan sits along the shores of Lake Michigan. It was founded in 1875 by Michigan Methodists as a camp “for scientific and intellectual culture, and for the promotion of the Christian religion and morality.”
Today, the community draws seasonal residents and visitors from all over to its annual Assembly Programs and Summer Music Festival. While cottages are often passed down through generations, the grounds are open to visitors to walk the tree-lined streets and enjoy the quaint Victorian architecture.
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8. Yawkey House, Wausau, Wisconsin
Visitors to the Yawkey House in Wausau, Wisconsin are treated to stunning Classical Revival architecture from the outside, with the original decorative elements inside. Cyrus and Alice Yawkey built the home beginning in 1900 at the cost of about $35,000, which was said to be the most expensive home in town at the time.
The Yawkeys were originally from Michigan, but moved to Wisconsin when Cyrus became a business partner in his family’s lumber company. He later went on to start several businesses, utility companies, and the first paper mill in the region.
9. Mulford Farmhouse, East Hampton, New York
The Mulford Farmhouse, located in East Hampton, New York, is known as one of the most significant and intact English Colonial farmsteads in the United States. Built in 1680, it’s been left largely unchanged since 1750, and much of the framing of the house has been left untouched.
On site is also the Mulford Barn, which was built in 1721 and is one of the most intact English-plan barns left in the state. After a private or guided tour of the home, visit the gardens where you’ll find culinary, dyeing, and medicinal plants once grown by colonists.
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10. Mabry-Hazen House, Knoxville, Tennessee
Photo: Wikimedia Commons via Brian Stansberry
High atop Mabry’s Hill in Knoxville, Tennessee, sits the Mabry-Hazen House which was built in 1858 in the Italianate-style for local businessman Joseph Alexander Mabry. Three generations of the same family lived in the home and today, the home is open as a museum where visitors can see how the home was furnished and styled over the decades.
With more than 2,500 original artifacts on display, it is the largest original family collection in America.
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