Visit the nearby American Gothic House Center, which showcases Grant Wood's life and the house's history. Visitors are encouraged to pose in front of the historic American Gothic House with props to make their own unique American Gothic portrait. The center also has a gift shop and a restaurant where you can get lunch or dinner.
The American Gothic House is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; admission is $10 for adults, $7 for seniors over 65, $5 for children under 12. Children under five are free. Parking is free.
To get to the American Gothic House from downtown Chicago, take Interstate 88 east toward St. Louis. After about 40 miles, exit on US 24 N. Follow it for 3 miles to Main Street in Eldon. Turn left onto Main street and go 0.3 mile to 13th Avenue. Turn right and go 0.1 mile; the house will be on your left.
Visit Eldon, Iowa, and see the outside of the home that inspired Grant Wood to paint American Gothic, one of the world's most famous paintings. Visit the nearby American Gothic House Center, which features Grant Wood's life and work...
Please check our current hours by clicking here, and keep in mind that due to the epidemic, these hours are susceptible to last-minute modifications. Please keep in mind that the Visitor Center and the American Gothic House have separate hours.
The American Gothic House (also known as The Dibble House) near Eldon, Iowa, is best known as the setting for Grant Wood's 1930 painting American Gothic. Since its completion, the artwork has become an American classic, serving as both the backdrop and the basis for innumerable parodies. The house was also the subject of a 1976 album by country singer Merle Haggard.
The American Gothic House was built in 1857 by William L. Dibble Jr., a descendant of one of the first families to settle in Iowa. The original structure was a single room with a loft, but it was later expanded into a double house. Dibble sold the property to Charles Shimer and his wife Mary Ann Shimer in 1882. They in turn gave it to their daughter Clara when they moved to Chicago that same year to take a job with the Pullman Company. Clara Shimer kept the house as a vacation home until her death in 1944. After this, her son George Shimer inherited the property.
In 1946, George Shimer decided to sell the house because he needed the money to pay off debts. It was then that Mr. and Mrs. Fred Gohlman saw the house for the first time and fell in love with it. They bought the house and had it restored back to its original appearance using items from around the world. Today, the Gohlmans own and operate the American Gothic Store just across the street from the house.
Although Grant Wood's "American Gothic" picture (and all of its imitators) are famous, most people are unaware that the modest white farmhouse in the backdrop is real—-that it is located in Eldon, Iowa (pop. Only a handful of people can claim to have lived "within" his famous artwork. It was made into a museum in 1939), or that it is owned by some rich family who never visits it. The picture was commissioned by the magazine he worked for at the time.
Gothic architecture was popular between 1867 and 1913. The image is thought to be representative of rural America at the end of the 19th century. Although now regarded as one of America's first realist paintings, at the time it caused outrage for its depiction of a poor family living in misery. The title refers to the fact that many early farmers' wives wore ill-fitting clothes decorated with images of horror - like the ghostly figure in the background - to help them forget their poverty.
According to myth, Edgar Degas painted an exact replica of this scene in 1877. However, this isn't true at all! The picture that people actually think is by Degas is called "A Lineage". It's not even really related to the American Gothic theme at all!
In reality, the man in the painting is Mr Wood's father, and the woman wearing the red dress is Mrs Wood.
Although Grant Wood's "American Gothic" picture (and all of its imitators) are famous, most people are unaware that the modest white farmhouse in the backdrop is real—that it is located in Eldon, Iowa (pop. 1,200), and that it was painted by the artist while on a summer vacation there.
Grant Wood lived with his family in a small house on South Park Street in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He loved to paint, so his parents let him use their farm for his work when they were away. The country setting suited Grant Wood perfectly; he loved the peace and quiet and used to say that he could work better there than in town because there were no distractions from people or noise trucks. His father owned a grocery store and his mother worked as a school nurse; neither had any interest in art, so they let Grant do what he wanted with his time.
Eldon is about 20 miles west of Cedar Rapids on U.S. Highway 20. It is surrounded by cornfields and trees, with the Mississippi River not too far away. The town has an old courthouse, a library, and two churches (one Lutheran, one Baptist). It is also the home of August A. Busch III, president of Anheuser-Busch, Inc.
Wood was inspired and hastily sketched the house before returning to Cedar Rapids to create American Gothic. The home still remains today and attracts hundreds of visitors each year. It is located at 809 13th Street SW in Cedar Rapids.
The artist as a child lived in this house with his family. He returned here in 1866 to marry his first wife, Hannah Braden, who died soon after giving birth to their son, John Wood Jr. Their daughter, Mary, was born in 1867. In 1870, the family moved to New York City where John Wood Sr. became one of the leading artists of his time. He taught his sons about business and politics so they could follow in his footsteps. However, neither son became an artist.
In 1880, the family returned to Cedar Rapids where John Wood Jr. had many more paintings exhibited during his lifetime. He also painted some scenes from his childhood home which are now displayed in museums across the country. The painter died in 1902 at the age of 67. His wife, Mary, followed him two years later.
Today, the house is owned by the city and operated as a museum by the Cedar Rapids Society for Historic Preservation. It's free to visit and offers programs for all ages.