Image of painting titled Braintree

Eminent Americans at Home

The greatest thing I have learned is how good it is to come home again."   Eleanor Roosevelt

Homes are private spaces that reflect personal style and taste. They showcase interests and life experiences. Each home contains its own story and provides a view into the life and times of its inhabitants.

For well-known Americans of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, their homes, often grand structures filled with elegant possessions, reflected their fame and prosperity. Fine art on display in the home had decorative merit and discreetly communicated values, as well as economic and social status.

Rustic pastoral landscapes often decorated dining rooms and parlors. Maritime scenes filled with sailing vessels and scenes of rivers and lakes were extremely popular. Many were displayed in formal parlors and in summer homes. European works of art that were collected on trips abroad served as a record of places that had been visited by affluent families on the Grand Tour.

Homeowners delighted in surrounding themselves with landscapes that were inspired by America's natural beauty. These works of art also reflected the collectors' patriotism and growing support of the American conservation movement. Others displayed charming views of their homes that brought joy and a sense of pride and continuity.

While eminent Americans had a public life and persona, it was in the privacy of their own homes that they experienced some of the most memorable and cherished moments of their lives. The home provided a comforting retreat from the pressures of public life. It was a place where they were surrounded by family and where they could relax and enjoy the comfort of familiar furnishings and works of art.

The artworks in this gallery offer an entry into the private world and home life of distinguished public figures who have had a profound impact on the nation and contributed to shaping America's history and identity. Included are Presidents and first ladies, Revolutionary and Civil War generals, inventors, artists, ranchers, writers, and many others honored by the nation.

These works of art are preserved by the National Park Service and can be seen in their original settings within the homes of these distinguished Americans. They provide a rare, intimate, and evocative glimpse of domestic life at home, with the family, and at leisure.