The American Gothic House (sometimes also the Dibble House) in Eldon, Iowa is famous as the backdrop of Grant Wood's 1930 painting American Gothic. The painting has become an American icon and the model for an unknown number of parodies. The American Gothic House is located in the small town of Eldon, Iowa in southeast Wapello County.
The American Gothic House was listed on the National Register in 1974. The common name is listed as the American Gothic House and the historic name as "Dibble House." Dibble was the owner of the property at the time of construction in 1881-1882. The house is built in the Carpenter Gothic style and is now owned by the State Historical Society of Iowa.
Grant Wood came to Eldon in 1930 with fellow artist and Eldon native John Sharp. He was inspired by the contrast of the modest little house with its (as he described it) "pretentious" Gothic style windows (there is one in each gable end).
He sketched the house on the back of an envelope and used it as the backdrop in his world renowned 1930's painting American Gothic. His sister Nan and his dentist Dr. BH McKeeby posed as the sour faced couple. Wood intended the couple to represent a typical small town resident and his daughter, but most interpret them as man and wife. Through countless parodies, the work has made the house one of the most recognized in the world. The painting hangs in the Art Institute of Chicago.
The house is owned by the State Historical Society of Iowa but is not open to the public. Visitors can view the house from the outside and have their photo taken. The adjacent American Gothic House Center contains exhibits about the painting, artist Grant Wood, and the community around the house.
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