Just like Mark Twain, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and others, you can have your dream home become reality by employing expert builders and designers of a quality KB Home. Throughout history there have been a select few who have turned their dreams into reality. Take a look at National Geographic’s top 10 historic homes from around the globe. They still inspire architects and would-be homeowners alike with their innovation, imagination, notoriety, and beauty.
The Top Ten Historic Homes Across The Globe
10. Thoor Ballylee (Ballylee Castle), Gort, Ireland
This 16th century tower castle dates back to the 1200’s. Ballylee Castle stands four stories high with one room on each floor that is connected by a spiral stone stairway built into the massive outer wall. Each floor has a window overlooking the Streamstown River which flows alongside the castle. This unusual castle was William Butler Yeats’ summer home for twelve years, and was his inspiration for “The Winding Stair” and “The Tower Poems.” Thoor Ballylee fell into disrepair after the Yeats family moved out in 1929, but it was fully restored in 1965 as a Yeats museum, featuring first editions of the poet’s works and furniture used by the family.
9. Villa Almerico Capra (La Rotonda), Venice, Italy
This majestic Renaissance villa stands on top of a hill, outside of Venice, Italy. What makes this house so unique is that it is entirely symmetrical; its design is a square with four facades, each of which has its own projecting portico. A beautiful dome with cupola rises over an elegant central, circular hall. Each portico has steps leading up to a small corridor, which opens to the central hall. All the rooms were proportioned with mathematical precision according to designer Andrea Palladio’s own rules of architecture, using the square and the circle as essential, yet classic forms. This innovative design illustrated the humanist ideals of Renaissance architecture.
8. Finca Vigia, San Francisco de Paula, Cuba
Miguel Pascual Baguer, an architect from Catalan, built the Finca Vigia, known as the Lookout House, in 1886 and it became the residence of Ernest Hemingway while he wrote most of his beloved book: For Whom the Bell Tolls. Hemingway also wrote The Old Man and the Sea while at Finca Vigia, which won him a Pulitzer Prize.
The home has been restored to the condition as when Hemingway lived in it. However, due to its location, concern remains as to the condition of this historic home. Finca Vigía is prominently on both the World Monuments Fund list of 100 Most Endangered sites and The National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 11 Most Endangered Places.
7. The Mark Twain House and Museum, Hartford, CT
This 25-room exquisite Victorian house was the home of one of America’s most beloved authors, Samuel Clemens, who was better known as Mark Twain. The Clemens family lived in the home while Mr. Twain wrote many of his famous books.
This stunning home features a magnificent grand hall, a stately library, an exotic glass conservatory, and the stylish billiard room, which was Mr. Clemens favorite place to write. Edward Tuckerman Potter, an architect from New York City, designed the house in the Gothic Revival style including the steeply-pitched roof and an asymmetrical layout of the bay windows. It is long been rumored that the home was designed to look like a riverboat. The interior decor includes elaborate stenciling and carved woodwork. When the house was under construction, the Hartford newspaper, The Daily Times noted that, “The novelty displayed in the architecture of the building, the oddity of its internal arrangement and the fame of its owner will all conspire to make it a house of note for a long time to come.”
6. Yasnaya Polyana, Tula Region, Russia
Leo Tolstoy grew up on this estate, which includes a house having 32 rooms, with his three brothers and one sister. After his parents’ deaths, Tolstoy inherited Yasnaya Polyana. While in the military, Tolstoy sold the main part of the original house to finance a magazine for soldiers, which never materialized. This part was moved to another estate, leaving only the two wings. Tolstoy moved into one of the wings in 1856 and brought his wife to live with him in 1862. Tolstoy and his wife had thirteen children, with four dying in childhood. He enlarged the house to make more space for his growing family. Tolstoy wrote two of his great novels at his beloved estate: War and Peace (1862 -1869) and Anna Karenina at (1873 – 1877). Tolstoy remained at Yasnaya Polyana until his death in 1910. His grave is located on the estate and is marked a simple headstone.
5. Anne Frank House, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Located in Amsterdam, the house at Prinsengracht 263 and the one next door at 265 were built in 1635 by Dirk van Delft. The facades facing the canal were renovated and the rear annex was demolished in 1740. Originally it was a private home, but it was turned into a warehouse during the 19th century. Otto Frank, Anne’s father moved the offices of the spice and gelling companies he worked for to Prinsengracht 263. It was in this warehouse that Anne Frank, her family, the Van Pels family, and Fritz Pfeffer (who joined the families in August 1942) hid from the Nazis during World War II. The Secret Annex or “Achterhuis,” is in the rear portion of the building. Houses on all four sides of the building concealed it from view. Its isolated situation made it an ideal hiding place. The group remained hidden there for two years and one month until they were betrayed and discovered by the Nazis and sent to concentration camps. Only Otto Frank survived imprisonment in the death camps. One of the only items to be retrieved from the Secret Annex was Anne Frank’s diary.
4. Giverny, Vernon, France
Located 80 km West from Paris France, Claude Monet moved to Giverny in 1883 with his second wife and eight children. He lived there until his death in 1926. Passionate about gardening, he transformed an abandoned piece of land into gardening masterpieces. It was in Giverny that Monet began his famous Séries of paintings, finding inspiration from his own beautifully crafted gardens. The gardens surrounding Monet’s quaint country home are living Monet paintings.
3. Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, England
Blenheim Palace is the home of the Dukes of Marlborough and Winston Churchill’s birthplace. One of the largest “houses” in England, its construction was a royal gift from Queen Anne to John Churchill for his military triumph at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704, and has been the center of political intrigue and marital woe ever since its conception. The Palace was initially designed in the English Baroque architectural style by John Vaughn. Blenheim Palace would be the Churchill family home for the next 300 years, with a variety of changes made by the different Dukes over the years. It is an exceptional example of the work of two of England’s most famous architects, Nicholas Hawksmoor and John Vanbrugh. The design of the Palace represented the beginning of a new, innovative style of architecture. Its magnificent Park was designed by renowned landscape artist, Capability Brown, and has been called “a naturalistic Versailles”.
2. Monticello, Charlottesville, VA
Thomas Jefferson has been noted as referring to Monticello as his “essay in architecture.” One of America’s most famous houses, Monticello is filled with innovative devices and mementos of one of America’s founding fathers. With no formal training at the time, he studied architecture voraciously, especially that of ancient Rome and the Italian Renaissance. Jefferson then drafted the designs for Monticello and began construction of his home in 1768. He would continuously work on Monticello for more than 40 years. After seeing the work of French architects, Ledoux and Boullée, Jefferson returned to Monticello full of new ideas for his home. When the extensive remodel was finished in 1809, Monticello was a 21-room a combination of Roman, Palladian, and French architectural styles.
When Jefferson died on July 4, 1826, he was more than $100,000 in debt. Jefferson daughter, Martha Jefferson Randolph and her son, Thomas Jefferson Randolph, had to sell almost all of the furnishings of Monticello and then sold Monticello itself in 1831. In 1923, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation purchased the house from then owner Jefferson Levy and maintains Monticello to this day.
1. Mount Vernon, Alexandria, Virginia
Mount Vernon was the home of George Washington and his family. It occupies the site of a smaller one and a half story farmhouse that was built by Washington’s father, Augustine in 1735. Originally called Little Hunting Creek Plantation, it was renamed Mount Vernon by Washington’s half-brother, Lawrence. After inheriting the plantation, Lawrence renamed it in honor Admiral Edward Vernon, the commanding officer under which he served while in the British Navy. After his father’s death in 1743, young George lived with his brother and his family at Mount Vernon.
Washington received Mount Vernon in 1754 after Lawrence’s death, and during the next 45 years, he remodeled and enlarged it into the 21-room Palladian mansion seen today. The home is built of wood, but the pine siding is designed to give the appearance of bricks. Washington added a second story to the home in 1758, and in 1759 he retired from the army and married Martha Custis, a wealthy widow with two children. During the mid-1770s, he began to enlarge the mansion by adding a new wing on the south, starting work on a north wing, and remodeling the inside of the house. He finalized construction with the distinctive two-story piazza and the addition of the cupola.
Mount Vernon was completely restored after escaping destruction that many plantation homes suffered during the American Civil War. Washington’s home, gardens, family cemetery, and outbuildings at Mount Vernon compose what is regarded as America’s first historical tourist attraction. Today Mount Vernon is furnished and restored to depict Washington’s home in 1799.
These ten historic homes represent the dreams and visions of some of the greatest and most well-known persons throughout history. Building a home that gives life to your imagination is something that every homeowner would love to do. Satisfying your every whim and incorporating every convenience imaginable into a home would definitely be a dream come true for most people. See more of National Geographic’s Ten best of Everything: https://www.facebook.com/NatGeoBooks/app_211447252293968