Most cities in America have at least a few historically registered homes. The United States is a nation with a rich history. Over the decades, different styles of homes have come and gone. Many of these enchanting architectural designs are now on the National Registry of Historic Places. Some cities have so many homes on the national registry that they have now formed entire historic districts. If you love architecture and history, there are some places in America you really need to visit.
Best Places to See Historically Registered Homes
In just about any city in the U.S., you can find at least a few historically registered homes. However, there are some places in America that are particularly rich historically. Cities like Boston and Savannah have quite a few beautiful homes on the national registry, also known as the NR. Many of these homes are almost as old as the country itself. Here are the top 15 cities in the U.S. to see historically registered homes.
1. Philidelphia, Pennsylvania
Being such an old city, Philadelphia, PA, has examples of many different architectural styles. Fairmount Park features six historic homes that are known as the “Charms of Fairmount Park.” Also known as the “Park Charms,” these houses were summer villas for prominent Philadelphians during the American Revolution.
Now, they are museums that give us a glimpse of life in the 18th and 19th centuries. “The Society’s Hill,” located between Eighth Street and the Delaware River, is said to be one of the largest groups of 18th and 19th-century houses in the country.
2. Boston, Massachusetts
The city of Boston, MA, is one of the most historic cities in the entire country. Boston also has examples of an abundance of architectural styles. Within this single city, you can find breathtaking examples of just about every style there is. It seems this city really is a must see if you have a love for historic homes.
Here are just a few of the historically registered homes in Boston:
- Post-Medieval – Paul Revere House built in 1680.
- Georgian – Old Corner Bookstore, 1718 Washington St., architect/builder unknown, 1712. Originally an apothecary shop with a residence above.
- Greek Revival – Quincy Market, built by Alexander Parris in 1825-26. Also known as Faneuil Hall Marketplace.
- Queen Anne – Boston Art Club, now the Snowden International School, built by William Ralph Emerson in 1881
- Stick Style – Joseph Hankey House, 5 Eliot Street, built in 1874.
- Colonial Revival – Kirstein Business Library built 1930 and inspired by the central pavilion of Bulfinch’s Tontine Crescent of 1794.
3. New Orleans, Louisiana
The city of New Orleans, LA, is home to several distinctive types of historic homes. Among the landmark dwellings you will come across on the streets of New Orleans are creole cottages. You will also find townhouses, double gallery houses and center hall houses.
To see the most famous examples of these kinds of architectural styles in New Orleans, make sure your visit includes tours. Because, you won’t want to miss either the Garden District and the French Quarter.
4. Savannah, Georgia
According to the Savannah Historic Foundation, more than 40 percent of the city’s 2,5000 buildings also have some sort of architectural or historical significance. As a result, just about every one of the popular building styles of the 18th and 19th century located somewhere in the city of Savannah.
A famous example of each style is listed below:
- Federal – The Davenport House
- Georgian – The Olde Pink House Restaurant
- Gothic Revival – Temple Mickve Israel
- Greek Revival – First Baptist Church
- Italianate – Mercer Williams House
- Regency – Telfair Museum of Art
- Romanesque – The Cotton Exchange
- Second French Empire – Hamilton-Turner House
5. Annapolis, Maryland
The city of Annapolis, MD, became a National Historic Landmark District (NHLD) fifty years ago. Notably, it was one of the first cities to earn this distinction. The NHLD includes the colonial historic district as well as landmarks. Such as the Maryland State House, St. Anne’s Church, and William Paca House.
The Historic Marker Program began in the city 40 years ago, and registers historic homes. More than 240 properties are currently registered with the program. The markers use a color system based on the architectural style of the building.
6. San Antonio, Texas
The King William Historic District is located just to the south of San Antonio’s business district. The district spans 22 blocks and is currently has 79 historic structures. Most of these buildings date back to the last half of the 19th century. San Antonio city officials designated the area as a historic district in 1968.
Also, four years later, in 1972, the area was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Since that time, many of the district’s historic homes have been renovated. Some are now bed and breakfast style establishments that cater to the city’s tourists.
7. St. Augustine, Florida
The St. Augustine Town Plan Historic District is a National Historic Landmark. It includes the sites of both the oldest continuously occupied European and African American settlements in the United States.
Even today, the district still has the distinctive plan that you would find in a Spanish Colonial walled town during the 16th century. Orange Street, San Marcos Street, the Matanzas River, St. Francis Street and Cordova Street make up the district’s boundaries.
8. Williamsburg, Virginia
The city of Williamsburg, VA, is the definitive destination for historically registered homes that epitomize the colonial style. A visit to Colonial Williamsburg is the closest you can get to actually going back in time. Because, it’s like experiencing what America was like when the country was in its infancy. In the Colonial Williamsburg Historic Area, you see the 18th century with your own eyes visiting the Wythe House, Geddy House, Peyton Randolph House, and the Anderson Blacksmith Shop and Public Armoury.
9. New York City, New York
When most people think of New York City, they think of crowded streets and bright lights. However, New York City is also full of historic buildings. Some of the city’s structures were built when the colony was still New Netherland during the 17th century.
Here are the ten oldest buildings in New York City and the surrounding area:
- Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum – 1652
- The Lent-Riker-Smith Homestead – 1654
- The Bowne House – 1661
- Billiou-Stillwell-Perine House – 1662
- Britton Cottage – 1670
- Jan Martense Schenck House – 1675
- Conference House Park – 1680
- Friends Meeting House – 1694
- Queens County Farm Museum – 1697
- Old Stone House – 1699
10. Charleston, South Carolina
The city of Charleston, SC, is also a National Historic Landmark with more than 2,800 historic buildings. Charleston is the oldest city in South Carolina. And, the architectural styles of its nationally registered homes bear witness to this fact. Eight different architectural styles are in Charleston: Colonial, Georgian, Federal, Classic Revival, Gothic Revival, Italianate, Victorian, and Art Deco. You don’t want to miss the following buildings during your visit to this historical city.
- Colonial – Old Exchange Building
- Georgian – Heyward-Washington House
- Federal – Aiken-Rhett House
- Classic Revival – Fireproof Building
- Gothic Revival – The Huguenot Church
- Italianate – Patrick O’Donnell House
- Victorian ‘Second Empire’ – Wentworth Mansion
- Art Deco – The Riviera Theatre
11. Santa Fe, New Mexico
This city is different from the rest of the cities on this list. That is becaus Santa Fe has an architectural style that is all its own. While there are certainly plenty examples of examples of Victorian, Italianate and California Mission Revival styles, adobe style homes dominate the landscape. The Spanish Pueblo style is the natural result of the blending of Native American and Spanish architectural influences.
12. Washington DC
Historically registered homes seem to fill our nation’s capital city. There are also a wide variety of architectural styles represented in the District of Columbia.
“There is a wealth of styles,” says Patrick Andrus, a historian with the National Register of Historic Places. “In the late-19th and early-20th centuries, D.C. was very cosmopolitan, very receptive to architectural styles. . . . D.C. adopted everything that was available.”
Architectural styles that you can also see on the streets of Washington DC: Georgian, Federal, Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, Italianate, Neoclassical, Victorian, Colonial Revival, Tudor Revival, Beaux-Arts, and American Craftsman.
13. Cambridge, Massachusetts
Three hundred and fifty years of architectural style still stands in Cambridge, MA. The historically registered homes in this city also include all of the following architectural styles that were once popular in America.
- Greek Revival
- Gothic Revival
- Second Empire
- Queen Anne
- Colonial Revival
- International and Art Deco
14. San Francisco, California
The city of San Francisco, CA, also has historically registered homes built in three main architectural styles. San Francisco’s historic houses are usually either Italianate, Stick, or Queen Anne style homes.
Italianate homes lie west of Divisadero and south of 20th Street in the Mission. Stick homes are in the Western Addition, Noe and Eureka Valleys, the Mission and Potrero Hill. Queen Anne homes are in Ashbury Heights, Alamo Square, Cow Hollow and Pacific Heights.
15. Atlanta, Georgia
Metropolitan Atlanta also has more than 75 historic districts scattered throughout the rolling hills of Northern Georgia. Notably, downtown Atlanta has six historic districts of its own.
Here are ten historic homes that you don’t want to miss on your trip to Atlanta, GA:
- Edward C. Peters House
- Dr. William P. Nicholson Home
- Herndon Home
- Joel Chandler Harris Home (The Wren’s Nest)
- L.P. Grant Mansion
- Rhodes Hall
- Villa Lamar
- Meadow Nook
- Judge William Wilson House
- G. W. Collier House
Historically Registered Homes Throughout America
Many historic cities in America feature a number of historically registered homes. In fact, the majority of big cities in the U.S. have a historic district. Even the smaller towns have at least one or two historic homes. However, if you have a love of historic architectural styles, then these 15 landmark cities need to be on your dream vacation list.
Featured image CC BY-SA 4.0 By Brian Zinnel via Wikimedia Commons