Before neighbors could show off their wealth by purchasing the latest sports car, wealthy people in America flaunted their money by building opulent mansions. Because of modern advancements in building technology, erecting mansions is easier than ever. But in the early days of America, commissioning a grand homestead was a luxury very few could afford.
Many of these homes cost millions of dollars to build at a time when spending that much money on a home was practically unheard of. The Biltmore Estate in North Carolina cost at least $5 million to build in 1895. Today, it would be expected to cost over $150 million if it were to hit the open market today.
There are massive homes in each U.S. state. From plantation homes in the South, to sprawling British-inspired castles in New England, and mansions out in the deserts of the West, each state has massive single-family homes that are now steeped in history thanks to the people who built them and the time in which they came about.
24/7 Wall St. compiled a list of the largest historic mansion in each state. In order to determine each state’s largest historic home, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed information from media sources, historical societies, and museums.
Though each state has historic mansions, there are some major size disparities between states. The Biltmore Estate is a gigantic 135,280 square feet — the largest historic mansion in the country. For comparison, The White House is just 55,000 square feet. Arkansas’ largest historic mansion appears to be the Clayton House, at just over 6,000 square feet.
When the structure is that small, it can be tough to say for sure whether or not it truly is the largest historic mansion. It is possible there is a larger mansion that does not have its size publicly available and has not joined the National Register of Historic Places.
Though the people who commissioned the houses have long been dead, many of their names and legacies live on. The famously wealthy Vanderbilt family built two of the homes on the list: the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina and The Breakers in Rhode Island. Matilda Dodge Wilson was left with a fortune when her husband John Dodge, co-founder of the Dodge motor company, died. She used some of the money to build Meadow Brook Hall, an 88,000 square foot mansion in Rochester, Michigan.
But it is not just titans of industry who commissioned a state’s largest homes. Often, governors’ mansions rank as the largest historic homes in their respective states. In states like Kentucky, Maryland, and Mississippi, there are no historic mansions still standing that measure up to the place where the governors live.
In order to determine the largest historic homes in each state, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed media sources, local and state historical societies, tourism boards, and the National Register of Historic Places. Only homes built before 1966 were considered. The buildings had to serve as single-family homes at some point in their history.
Most of these buildings no longer serve as homes, and many have been converted into museums. To be considered, the homes must have publicly available information about their size, or provided that information to 24/7 Wall St. Houses were ranked on square footage, unless that information was unavailable, in which case the homes were ranked based on the number of rooms they have.