American Gothic House
"American Gothic," a painting by Grant Wood, brought this 1880s house, located in Eldon, Iowa, fame as the backdrop of the stereotypical image of a farmer and his daughter. Hundreds of parodies and takeoffs have made "American Gothic" a popular culture icon that's become one of the most recognized images in the world. The house was placed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1974 and donated in 1991 to the State Historical Society by Carl E. Smith. In 1992, the Historical Society renovated the house, maintaining its 1930 appearance. Although the house is not open to the public (a caretaker lives in the house), visitors are encouraged The American Gothic House Center (built in 2007). The center displays the history of the house, information about the painter Grant Wood, and provides props for visitors to take their own photo with the house.
Backstory and Context
The house was built in 1881-1882 by Catherine and Charles Dibble. Since then, the residence changed ownership several times until it was donated to the State Historical Society of Iowa in 1991. In 1930, Edward Rowan, the director of the Cedar Rapids Little Art Gallery, was conducting an art exhibition as part of an experiment to bring art to rural communities. The exhibit lasted for one month and included various artists, art classes, and music appreciation classes. Rowan invited painter, Grant Wood, to do an exhibit in Eldon. Rowan and Grant were taking a drive, when Grant noticed a home with an interesting gothic style window. Grant sketched the home and later created the famous painting.