In 1930 a youngish man called Grant Wood visited Eldon, Iowa. There he saw a house and sketched it. Shortly afterwards, in a later sketch, he added a man and a woman standing in front of the building.

These people weren’t strangers that he’s rustled up from his imagination. The woman was his sister and the man, although he was portrayed as a farmer, was Wood’s dentist.

These sketches were to become the forerunners of a painting – a painting that you’re most probably very familiar with.

Here it is.

Wood wasn’t one of those artists who love to explain their thought processes when creating a painting. So we don’t know much about the story, if any, behind the work. (For instance, his sister and his dentist? Why on earth…?)

Notable is the theme of pairs – the pair of panels to the window, the two people, the pair of pitchfork spaces … and the way that the pitchfork is echoed on the bodice of the dentist’s overalls.

And the window itself, quite a noticeable feature, is rather strange, isn’t it? I imagine that its incongruity is one of the reasons that Wood felt compelled to sketch it and include it in his now-famous, yet rather bizarre, painting.

However, the reason I’m writing about this is that, rather remarkably, the house still stands and you can visit it. Do check the website though as it isn’t open to the public during the winter months.

One cute aspect of the visit that many reviewers mentioned was the opportunity to dress up in suitable clothing – provided by the visitor centre – to take your photograph in front of the house in Nan (sister) and Byron (dentist) clothing. Even the pitchfork is provided…



The American Gothic House

300 American Gothic St,
Eldon, IA 52554,




JJ is originally from the UK and has lived in South Florida since 1994. She is the founder and editor of JAQUO Magazine. You can connect with her using the social media icons below.

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