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A Trip to the American Gothic House

My husband and I recently made the trip out to Eldon, Iowa so that we could finally see The American Gothic House, the backdrop of the painting by Grant Wood.

It’s about a two-hour drive from our house in the Cedar Rapids area, I find it interesting that Grant Wood made this same trip the day that inspiration struck to create the iconic painting.

Two hours didn’t seem so bad once I had a few things to do along the way, so I made a list of a few other things to do while we were in the area.

I always do that, no matter where we are headed.

When traveling through new territory I know that there tons of roadside attractions, delicious one of a kind food spots, and random oddities that we would be passing, so I always try to include them in our travel plans.

This trip included a stop in Fairfield, Iowa to see The Golden Dome of Pure Knowledge, a couple of Mexican Restaurants in Ottumwa, a very weird tour of Pawn Shop Row, and a few stops in Eldon, including the American Gothic House. 


A few years ago, we visited the humble Cedar Rapids carriage house that Grant Wood lived in with his mother when he painted this masterpiece, you can check that post out by clicking here. 

We have driven by the area that inspired his painting Stone City many times and even got to see his early work, decorating a sleeping porch inside the Brucemore Mansion here in Cedar Rapids.

Which makes me wonder why it took so long to get out to see The American Gothic House, it must be the plethora of other things there are to do here in Iowa.

Any time of any day you can sit in a parking lot and be entertained by, constant door dinging, hit and runs, and even the occasional crash through a business window.

Lots of action, lots of action.

On this day it was windy and rainy so it seemed like the perfect way to spend our time although the pictures are not as bright and beautiful as I would like, it was a good time.

I noticed the front window right away, that screamed American Gothic to me but the surrounding area kind of surprised me.

When I hear the words “farmhouse” to describe a home, I immediately think of a house surrounded by land with animals and other farm-like things, especially since that barn in the painting looks like a perfect place to keep animals.

I was surprised to see a neighborhood with other houses and roads all over the place.

I assume this Grant Wood fella saw a different scene, a more desirable setting for a painting, but maybe not because the barn that is seen in his painting was never there either, he created it just for The American Gothic Painting.

When you arrive at The American Gothic House in Eldon, Iowa you can visit the American Gothic House Center to pick up souvenirs, read up on the history of Grant Wood and the painting, as well as dress up for your own American Gothic photo.

They have everything you need to recreate the famous painting and the staff will even take a picture for you in the same spot that Grant Wood had his sister and dentist model for his painting.

If the weather is too bad you can take a photo inside in front of a mini replica of the house and if you go on the right day like we did, you can explore the inside of the famous American Gothic House.

There was a husband and wife volunteer team waiting inside to assault us with their stories about the house and as the husband rattled off shaky facts, his wife was sure to correct him when he got a part of the story twisted, there will be no misinformation on her watch!

I loved the sink and floors the most, the house is pretty basic but very cute, with a little more storage space, I could make it work.

I would need that barn and some farm animals to really live the dream though.

This painting is recreated constantly and in Cedar Rapids, there are 25 statues scattered throughout downtown with different clothes and styles.

They really drive home the fact that Grant Wood created this work of art in Cedar Rapids, I guess it is better to be known for the worlds most recognizable painting rather than the city of five smells.

Inside the visitors center, you can see some of the variations this painting has been recreated throughout time.

One of my favorites is the photo of Roseanne Barr and Tom Arnold, when these two were married they bought a bunch of land nearby The American Gothic House and began building their mansion.

They even opened a restaurant somewhere on Elm St. in Eldon but I heard from the locals that it has burned down.

We also heard that the mansion was never completed and the land was donated although there are parts of the foundation still there because apparently, it is too costly to tear down.

I think the new owners are hoping for a reboot since the shows’ return, I wouldn’t mind giving up my title as the coolest person in Iowa if Roseanne were to move back.

You can plan your trip to the American Gothic House in Eldon, Iowa and find out more information about this free attraction by clicking here. 



Friday 24th of August 2018


ellen beck

Saturday 5th of May 2018

You know I havent ever been there yet. I dont live far from you really, and you mad me crack up when you said city of 5 smells ! I think the Oat plan is the biggy, some days it stinks and othes not so much. I want to see The Golden Dome of Pure Knowledge, in Fairfield, Iowa now. I wonder what the heck that is? I have been by Fairfield and just havent been there either.


Wednesday 30th of May 2018

Some smells are better than others, that is for sure! I didn't go inside of the dome but have always wanted to, maybe next time!

Hannah Mitchell

Wednesday 2nd of May 2018

This is such an interesting subject. The house looks beautiful and really represents the older way houses were built back in the day. I love the old feel of homes. Being an old realtor I have always been interested in what a house looks like inside and out lol. Thanks for sharing

Joely Smith

Tuesday 1st of May 2018

What FUN! I love how they have a set up to recreate the painting! I love road trips where you stop off at roadside attractions and just enjoy the surroundings. This sounds like you had a ton of fun and I am like you - looking up what could be the next stop!


Tuesday 1st of May 2018

How fun that a couple is there to walk you through the house and provide information. I imagine them hitting you with info at a pretty rapid pace! How neat that the house is still standing and in a less rural area.