Did you know the house that is featured in the famous "American Gothic" painting is right here in Iowa?  In fact, it's just a couple of hours away from the Quad Cities in Eldon, Iowa.  It'd be a perfect day trip if the roads stay clear and you're looking to get out of the house this winter.

Photo by Diane Helentjaris on Unsplash
Photo by Diane Helentjaris on Unsplash

How the House Became Famous

Built by the Dibble family in 1881, this humble abode was just your average, everyday, white picket fence farmhouse. That is, until 1930 when artist Grant Wood (who taught at the University of Iowa's School of Art) came to town and immortalized it in his painting "American Gothic."

Larua Bush Tours Grant Wood Exhibit
Getty Images

The Dibble House

The Dibble family built the house. Mr. Dibble owned a stable in Eldon but unfortunately, he later lost the house and it was sold for overdue taxes. Over the years the house changed hands, with the owners either living in the house or maintaining it as a rental property. The State of Iowa is the current owner, acquiring it in 1991 when the then-owner donated it to the State Historical Society of Iowa.

American Gothic Is Unveiled At The Royal Academy Ahead Of The Exhibition America After The Fall: Painting In The 1930s
Tristan Fewings

The Window of Opportunity

The faces of the painting are certainly memorable.  But it's the window of the house that really stands out.

In the summer of 1930, Grant Wood was in Eldon for an art exhibition, and upon spotting the house with its unique window, he asked to pull over so he could make a sketch. He sketched his idea while at the house but went to his studio in Cedar Rapids to complete the piece.

Turns out the window was actually hinged and was used to move furnishings in and out of the upper floor...not for decoration, as assumed by the artist.

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