For historical treasures lovers, there is nothing better than walking through local or international museums or private homes to view authentic fine art pieces, antique furniture, and home decor created and used many years ago. Here is our list of important American homes from the past that are filled with amazing art collections and furnishings.
Winterthur is a childhood home of the famous collector of antique furniture, international expert, and horticulturist Henry Francis du Pont (1880–1969). This magnificent 175-room house located in Winterthur, Delaware was opened to the public almost 60 years ago and now serves as a museum of decorative and fine art. Intended to preserve du Pont’s antique collection that consists of nearly 90,000 items of early American decorative art and furniture, this beautiful manse will easily delight any antique enthusiast. Moreover, Winterthur has a stunning 60-acre naturalistic garden that is considered one of the best in the US.
Winchester Mystery House
Winchester Mystery House, the former home of Sarah Winchester (1840–1922) located in San Jose, California, is an extravagant, bizarre, baffling, marvelous, and at the same time awesome maze of Victorian craftsmanship. It is much more than just one of the architectural museums – it is a true gem for mysterious treasures lovers. Here you can find a number of magnificent Tiffany glass windows and some other precious antique pieces that are still a part of this unusual 160-room home, not to mention a large collection of Winchester rifles.
Newport Mansions located in Newport, Rhode Island are extravagant “summer cottages” from America’s Gilded Age filled with numerous antique pieces. These fabled mansions that once were the private homes of the ultra wealthy perfectly portray the opulence, glamor, and elegance of a bygone era. Although each “cottage” has its own unique personality, the grandest one is probably The Breakers. This luxurious home with no less luxurious antique furnishings belonged to Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794–1877) can impress even the most pampered visitor.
Mount Vernon located in Mount Vernon, Virginia is a plantation home owned by George Washington (1732–1799) and his wife, Martha. Its diverse art collection includes unique antique furniture, sculpture, prints, paintings, clothing, tools, textiles, glass, metals, ceramics, and many other personal accessories. You can even see here Washington’s presidential chair and a pair of his dentures that are, by the way, not wooden contrary to the well-known legend.
Located just outside Charlottesville, Virginia, Monticello is another excellent plantation home that belonged to Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826). This autobiographical masterpiece of the third President of the United States is filled with interesting antique objects and beautiful works of fine art that fully reflect the ideals and personal ideas of Jefferson. It is also interesting that many of furnishings you can see inside the home were made in Monticello’s own joinery by enslaved craftsmen that makes them even more significant in historical terms.
Bayou Bend located in Texas is a house museum for American paintings and decorative arts used or made in the US between 1620 and 1876. Initially owned by the famous philanthropist Ima Hogg (1882–1975), now it is an extension of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH). Its amazing art collection of American furnishings, paintings, ceramics, and silver is one of the finest showcases in the world. Moreover, the house itself sits on 14 acres of organically maintained gardens that were intended as outdoor rooms for entertaining and even living. The Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens is definitely worth seeing for all connoisseurs of antique and fine art pieces!