Skip to Content

American Gothic House in Eldon, Iowa

Embark on a journey through art history and discover the charm of the American Gothic House in Eldon, Iowa – the very backdrop that inspired Grant Wood’s iconic painting. Imagine standing before the distinctive window that witnessed the creation of one of the most celebrated and parodied pieces of art in American history.

This historical gem is not just a relic frozen in time; it’s a living testament to art enthusiasts. Join us as we explore how you can visit this iconic site, dress up to recreate the famous painting, and even step inside to immerse yourself in the layers of history preserved within the American Gothic House.

The American Gothic House Eldon, Iowa

Visiting the American Gothic House in Eldon, Iowa

Whether you’re a history enthusiast, an art lover, or simply seeking a unique cultural experience, the American Gothic House Center invites you to step into the pages of history.

We embarked on this captivating road trip to uncover the profound legacy of American Gothic and the lasting impact Grant Wood has left on Iowa’s cultural tapestry.

The drive from Cedar Rapids to Eldon takes about two hours, mirroring Grant Wood’s trip on the day he found inspiration for the American Gothic painting. Interestingly, Cedar Rapids played a pivotal role in this artistic journey, as it was within this vibrant city that Wood resided while creating his iconic masterpiece.

Visitors can also explore the Grant Wood Studio in Cedar Rapids, the spot where he worked his artistic magic, bringing his most iconic creation, American Gothic, to life.

This journey isn’t your typical road trip—it’s an exploration of the vibrant art, history, and culture of the Hawkeye state.

American Gothic House in Eldon, Iowa

The History of the American Gothic House

This thriving pop-culture tourism hub annually welcomes thousands of visitors eager to step back into the late nineteenth-century charm.

Renowned for its iconic Gothic windows and steep-pitched roof—features that sparked the sketch leading to the famed painting—the house is affectionately known as the Dibble House, a nod to its inaugural owner, Charles Dibble.

Constructed in 1881-82 by Charles and his wife Catherine Dibble, the American Gothic House originally featured four rooms—two downstairs and two upstairs—connected by a steep, narrow staircase. Later in the 1920s, the home was owned by Gideon Jones and Mary Hart Jones, and additional rooms, including a kitchen and bathroom, were seamlessly integrated into the structure.

In a surprising twist, the iconic figures portrayed in the painting, “American Gothic,” never resided there. Even more interesting, Grant Wood’s sister, Nan Wood, and his dentist, Dr. Byron McKeeby, who posed for the painting, never met until 12 years after the artwork was completed.

The Joneses were the owners of the home in the summer of 1930 when Grant Wood stumbled upon the American Gothic House while traveling with the gallery director Edward Rowan during an effort to promote fine arts in Eldon.

Initially unimpressed, Wood sketched the house on an envelope, later returning to create an oil sketch in the front yard, setting the stage for the iconic painting, “American Gothic.”

American Gothic House Center

What to Expect from a Visit to Eldon, Iowa

Upon reaching The American Gothic House in Eldon, Iowa, your visit begins with a trip to the American Gothic House Center, where you can not only collect souvenirs but also learn about the rich history of Grant Wood and his iconic painting.

As you explore, you’ll have the opportunity to dress up for your very own American Gothic-inspired photo, adding a touch of creativity to your experience.

Grant Wood Overalls for Painting

Standing before the house, the immediate attention goes to the front window, evoking the unmistakable spirit of American Gothic. However, the surrounding neighborhood may surprise you, challenging traditional notions of a farmhouse.

Unlike the typical imagery associated with farmhouses, the setting features a neighborhood with houses and roads, deviating from the expected rural landscape.

This unexpected scene prompts contemplation on Grant Wood’s perspective. Did he envision a different, more alluring backdrop for his painting? The absence of the barn in the actual landscape, a central element in his artwork, reveals Wood’s artistic license, as he created the barn solely for “The American Gothic Painting.”

The juxtaposition of expectations and the actual reality adds an intriguing layer to a visit to this iconic site.

Step Inside the American Gothic House

Inside, you’ll find everything you need to recreate the iconic painting, including an opportunity for the staff to capture your moment at the exact spot where Grant Wood’s sister and dentist were placed in front of the house in the original artwork.

American Gothic House replica

If the weather doesn’t cooperate, there’s an option to take a photo indoors in front of a miniature replica of the house. On certain days, like when we visited, you might even get the chance to explore the interior of the famous American Gothic House.

Enthusiastic volunteers, like the husband and wife team we encountered, eagerly share captivating stories about the house. As the husband shared interesting facts, his wife ensured accuracy by correcting any twists in the narrative — a testament to their dedication to providing accurate information.

inside the American Gothic House

The charm of the house, evident in its quaint simplicity, left me enamored, particularly with the adorable sink and floors. With a bit more storage space, I could easily envision making it work.

Parodies & Homages: American Gothic in Pop Culture

Inside the visitor’s center, you will get a glimpse of various reinterpretations of this timeless painting.

The enduring appeal of the iconic painting “American Gothic” is reflected in various parodies that not only pay homage to Grant Wood’s masterpiece but also contribute to the diverse cultural references associated with the American Gothic House.

Roseanne Barr and Tom Arnold

One standout is a photo featuring Roseanne Barr and Tom Arnold, who once owned land near the American Gothic House and began constructing a mansion.

Although the restaurant they opened in Eldon reportedly burned down, the incomplete mansion’s remnants reportedly still stand.

Word on the streets of this small town is that Roseanne donated the property to a local college after divorcing Tom Arnold.

Tom Arnold and Roseanne Barr Iowa

Cedar Rapids Statues

Cedar Rapids paid homage to its artistic native with 26 statues scattered throughout downtown in 2016, each depicting unique variations of the iconic painting.

These whimsical creations, adorned in different clothes and styles, offered a playful nod to the city’s connection with the world’s most recognizable painting.

While the Overalls All Over program has ended, you can still find many of the fiberglass statues on display in downtown Cedar Rapids today.

Gothic Days Festival

Experience the lively American Gothic Days Festival in Eldon, Iowa, each June. Participate in parades, and contests, as well as enjoy live music and an art fair. Explore nearby attractions, including the iconic American Gothic House.

Immerse yourself in the town’s artistic heritage by donning period-style clothing during this charming celebration of Eldon’s cultural vibrancy and its connection to the iconic American Gothic painting.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the American Gothic House Famous?

The American Gothic House gained fame as the inspiration behind Grant Wood’s iconic painting, “American Gothic.” This historic dwelling, also known as the Dibble House, is celebrated for its distinctive Gothic windows and steep-pitched roof, forever etched into American art and culture.

Is the House in American Gothic Real?

Absolutely! The American Gothic House, also known as the Dibble House, is very real. It’s a historic structure located in Eldon, Iowa, immortalized as the backdrop of Grant Wood’s famous painting “American Gothic.” This tangible piece of history is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, inviting visitors to step into the iconic scene that captured the essence of rural America in the 1930s.

Where Is American Gothic Hung?

Despite being painted in Cedar Rapids and depicting a farmhouse in Eldon, Iowa, The American Gothic is displayed at the Art Institute of Chicago. Grant Wood’s iconic artwork has found a permanent home in this prestigious museum, drawing art enthusiasts from around the world to admire its enduring significance in American art history.

American Gothic House in Eldon, Iowa

More Unique Travel Ideas

If you are looking for more unique travel ideas in the area, you may want to check out the Maharishi Patanjali Golden Dome of Pure Knowledge in Fairfield, Iowa. This dome made famous from an appearance on the Oprah Show, is located about a half hour from the American Gothic house.

If you are interested in some dark tourism spots in Iowa you may want to check out The Black Angel of Death at Oakland Cemetery in Iowa City.

Another favorite among haunted locations in Iowa is touring the Villisca Ax Murder House. A quaint home in a small town that stands as the backdrop to one of the state’s most infamous and brutal crimes.

For a more lighthearted adventure, you may enjoy visiting the Wilton Candy Kitchen. This nostalgic location is the oldest ongoing Ice Cream/Soda Parlor in the world.

For more unique travel ideas be sure to sign up for the free newsletter and follow along on social media so you never miss another post again!

About Thirty Something Super Mom

Melissa Dixon Thirty Something Super Mom
Thirty Something Super Mom | Website

My journey started after a Crohn's disease diagnosis, inspiring a commitment to well-being. This site shares my distinctive approach to healthy living with my collection of nutritious recipes that boast authentic flavors, mimicking the indulgence of traditional dishes. I love sharing guilt free recipes for low carb, keto, gluten-free, paleo, and the specific carbohydrate diet. I also share tips on natural living, including homemade cleaners and cleaning hacks. I also share my experience as a veterinary technician and pet groomer, to integrate pet health tips, homemade dog food recipes, and grooming insights to ensure your pets thrive.


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.