The Art Behind the American Gothic House and Center

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We have all seen the famous American Gothic House, in some form or another, as the classic rendering is often parodied. There is a lot to The Dibble House or the American Gothic House as it is commonly referred to. It is an iconic building in the town of Eldon in the State of Iowa. The house came into limelight in the year 1930 in a painting by the famous American artist Grant Wood.

Today it seems that everyone, at some point or other, has seen this house. The depiction of the American Gothic House by Grant Wood is one of the most famous works and one of the most easily recognized paintings of 20th-century American art. It is surprising to note that Grant Wood has observed this house only two times in his life and made an initial sketch. The full artwork was completed in his studio at Cedar Rapids.

The art behind the American Gothic House and Center

The Art Behind the American Gothic House and Center

History of the House
This house is also famous as the Dibble House and boasts of a Carpenter Gothic design. This feature is probably the main reason why Wood decided to include this house in his artwork even he never saw it more than once/twice in his life. The first owner was Charles Dibble, who was a resident of Eldon. Constructed in 1882, the house had its first owner: Charles Dibble. That is why this house came to be known as Dibble House locally.

Dibble, who was a Civil War veteran, built this house for his family that consisted of his wife, himself, and as many as eight children. The house is tiny for such a large family as it covers only 504 sq ft. But it was standard for that period, and the unique feature of the house was its shiny white color and the batten siding, which made this house famous even decades later.

American Gothic House

The most striking feature of the house is the windows on the upper level of the house. These are Gothic-styled windows that inspired the artist to feature this home in his landmark artwork. Many people believe that these windows came from the famous Sears catalog. There are two different thoughts behind the possible purchase. Dibble purchased these stunningly beautiful windows to make their home more showy than the others, or maybe they were trying to follow a trend in which houses were made beautiful with extravagances. Both ideas seem valid and possible.

American Gothic House and Center

The house was used as a private residential property only for most of the time in the 20th century. However, in 1991, it was donated to the State Historical Society of the state. A preservation effort was carried out by the authorities for 30 long years, and today the home looks the way it did in the 1930s.

American Gothic House and Center costumes

Act it out the American Gothic Painting Yourself

The visitors are always encouraged to view the house from outside and take photos. One can get dresses and jackets from the visitor center, which are very similar to the attire worn during that period. You can create your very own version of the famous artwork. It is a hoot to see yourself in this historical setting and fun for the littles! They honestly have teeny-tiny versions of the dresses and jackets, not to mention the pitchfork.

American Gothic House Center

There is also a Visitor Center now to manage the queries of all tourists. The Visitor Center is where the costumes are housed, along with exhibits about that famous painting. Works of Grant Wood and information about the community in the vicinity of the house are also featured.

American Gothic House Center

Know Some Gothic House Facts

  • You can find the American Gothic House & Center on the eastern side of the town of Eldon.
  • It receives a footfall of around 15,000 visitors every year, and that does not include the after-hour visitors.
  • Make sure you sign the guest book – that helps them if they apply for a grant of any kind. They can prove traffic.
  • The visitors are always encouraged to view the house from outside and take photos.
  • You can tour the 1st floor of the Gothic House, but it is the exterior which looks more beautiful and has made this place so special.
  • The 2nd floor of the Gothic House is hard to see as the very steep and narrow stairway is inaccessible for many. It is often closed to the public.

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