12 National Trust Properties to Visit This Summer

Gain some architectural insight—and a new understanding of American history—by visiting these National Trust Historic Sites.

  1. Woodlawn Plantation

    Woodlawn Plantation

    Located in Alexandria, Virginia, Woodlawn Plantation was the first property taken over by the National Trust, in 1952. Built in 1805 the Federal-style home, designed by the architect of the U.S. Capitol, was a gift from George Washington to his nephew Major Lawrence Lewis and his wife Eleanor “Nelly” Custis Lewis. The property was maintained by workers and slaves until 1846 when it was sold to Quaker families who sold lots of it to freed black and white farmers.

    The site also boasts Frank Lloyd Wright’s Pope-Leighey House, which was relocated to the Woodlawn grounds to preserve it, and a working farm operated in partnership with Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture.

    Photographs in the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

  2. Acoma Sky City

    Acoma Sky City

    The adobe houses, plazas, and walkways on Acoma’s 367-foot-tall mesa have been in use for nearly 1,000 years, making Acoma Sky City in New Mexico the oldest continuously inhabited community in the United States. The residents provide tours, which include the 17th-century church San Esteban del Rey, introducing visitors to the art, history, and culture of the pueblo.


  3. Philip Johnson Glass House

    glass house new canaan

    The Glass House, located in New Canaan, Connecticut, was designed by architect Philip Johnson in 1949. The 47-acre campus represents the architect’s interpretation of modern architecture, art, and landscape design. As the name suggests, the Glass House’s exterior walls are made of glass; there are no interior walls.

    Carol M. Highsmith's America, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

  4. Gaylord Building

    Gaylord Building

    The Gaylord Building in Lockport, Illinois, was built in 1838 to store construction materials used in digging the 96-mile-long Illinois & Michigan Canal, which linked Lake Michigan with the Mississippi River and created a waterway for trade from New York to New Orleans. The original limestone warehouse—which was subsequently used for grain storage, a general store, and a plumbing supply house—was expanded with Greek Revival-style and Italianate additions.

    Photographs in the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

  5. Lyndhurst


    Lyndhurst, a Gothic Revival mansion in Tarrytown, New York, was designed by renowned American architect A. J. Davis in 1838. The estate, which was home to former New York City mayor William Paulding, merchant George Merritt, and railroad tycoon Jay Gould, reflects nearly 175 years of life on the Hudson River. The site encompasses 67 acres and includes 16 structures, including a Lord & Burnham steel-framed greenhouse complex and the oldest regulation bowling alley in the United States.

    Carol M. Highsmith's America, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division and istockphoto.com

  6. Touro Synagogue

    Touro Synagogue

    Located in Newport, Rhode Island, Touro Synagogue is the oldest synagogue building in the United States. The structure was dedicated in 1763 by descendants of Jewish families who had fled the Inquisitions in Spain and Portugal in search of religious tolerance. The site was designated a National Historic Site in 1946 and is considered one of the 10 most architecturally distinguished buildings of 18th-century America.


  7. Hotel de Paris Museum

    Hotel de Paris Museum

    The Hotel de Paris, in Georgetown, Colorado, was at the forefront of the late-19th-century silver mining boom, operating as a hotel, boarding house, residence, restaurant, and showroom for traveling salesmen from the 1870s to the 1930s. Louis Dupuy, a French immigrant, established the hotel in 1875 and enlarged it to its present size by 1893. The hotel was acquired by Sarah Burkholder in 1903; she and her daughter, Hazel McAdams, operated the site as a boarding house until 1939.

    Gates Frontiers Fund Colorado Collection within the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

  8. Filoli


    Designed by California architect Willis Polk, this Georgian Revival mansion surrounded by 16 acres of formal gardens and more than 600 acres of woods was built for William B. Bourn II in 1917. Filoli, located 30 miles from San Francisco, in Woodside, California, features spectacular grounds with reflecting pools, formal gardens, arbors, and shady walks, all designed to blend harmoniously with the nearby San Andreas hills.


  9. The Shadows-on-the-Teche


    Located in New Iberia, Louisiana, on the banks of the Bayou Teche in the heart of Cajun Country, The Shadows was built as the home of sugar planter David Weeks. Four generations of the Weeks family lived at The Shadows from 1834 until 1958. The site houses the Weeks Family Papers, a collection of more than 17,000 letters, photographs, and receipts. The documents, which were preserved in trunks in the attic, provide a rich look at the life of a true Southern plantation house.


  10. African Meeting House and Abiel Smith School

    African Meeting House

    Boston’s historic African Meeting House was built in 1806 and is the oldest existing black church edifice in the country built primarily by black artisans. The meeting house hosted numerous prominent abolitionists, including William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass. The Abiel Smith School, which dates to 1835, was the nation's first building constructed for the sole purpose of housing a black public school.

    Wikimedia Commons via Tim Pierce

  11. Brucemore


    Commissioned by Caroline Sinclair, widow of pioneer industrialist T.M. Sinclair, for just $55,000 in 1884, the Brucemore didn’t get its name until 1906 when George Bruce Douglas and his wife Irene acquired the house and turned in into a country estate. It was then passed along to their daughter Margaret and her husband Howard Hall who added their elaborate charm to the mansion. Visitors can enjoy the gardens and 21-rooms of the Queen-Ann style mansion, which include a sleeping porch pipe organ.

    Flickr via Richard Roche

  12. Lower East Side Tenement Museum

    Lower East Side Tenement Museum

    The Lower East Side Tenement Museum in New York City showcases two former tenement buildings that housed immigrants from 1863 all the way to 2000. With 12 unique tours to choose from, visitors have the opportunity to see restored apartments, retail spaces, and explore the neighborhood’s rich culture to understand role immigration has played in shaping America.


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