Postcards & Passports

The Oldest Buildings in America

The United States wasn’t built in a day. Over time it has taken many shapes and forms to tell the tale of our nation’s history. The houses, cabins, forts, missions and businesses of the time help tell the story. The oldest buildings have been preserved so they can continue to tell their stories.

How the oldest buildings were built

Early Native Americans, slaves and settlers didn’t have the tools or the technology that we have today. If we look at each region, buildings were constructed not for luxury but instead to endure the elements and environments of the time. 

In the North East, homes were often built from stones and mud. Predating the creation of cement, mud was used as a sealant for cracks. The Pueblo communities of the southwest and the Colorado mountains strategically built small cities in valleys and on ridges, to protect communities from enemy attacks. In the South, the Gonzalez-Alvarez House’s foundation used sedimentary rocks to withstand summer hurricanes. The Molalla Log House in Oregon was handcrafted by early Russian settlers using a process called” hand-hewn,” which rounds the ends of logs. 

There were no bulldozers, cranes, nails or cement. Materials like stone, wood and mud were used to build and insulate homes. The use of natural resources enabled them to stay cool during hot summers and warm in cold winters. Simple in design and utilitarian in use, many of these structures still stand today.  For example, in 1000 AD New Mexico, the Acoma Pueblo “Sky City” protected local communities from enemy attacks. Today it is the oldest inhabited area in the United States. 

Where are the oldest buildings?

National Parks, community walkways and snack stands encompass forts (The Alamo) and log cabins (Jacob Wolfe House) of yesterday. Today, locals, tourists and kids on field trips visit to marvel at the old buildings and learn their stories.

Many of the original missions and churches built during pre and post-colonial America like the Mission San Juan Capistrano, are still used as regular homes of worship. And let us not forget about the early businesses. Today, places like Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop are still serving up good times in the New Orleans French Quarter. 

Here’s a list of the oldest buildings in each state of the United States:

(Graphic credit to BigRentz)

Will you visit one of the oldest buildings in the U.S.?

With the economy beginning to reopen after months of isolation, the family road trips you loved as a kid could return as a popular trend this year. 

It’s predicted that 31 percent of Americans will hit the road this summer. While many are still uncertain due to coronavirus concerns, cheap gas prices and short waiting lines could be motivators. 

Until then, virtual family trips may become as popular as Zoom parties. 

Grab the kids and pack your bags. Our friends at BigRentz are taking you on a virtual road trip to explore each state in search of the oldest buildings in America. Be sure to check out this next image to see if your home state made the top 15 list! 

(Graphic presentation of oldest buildings credit to Bigrentz.)

So are any of the oldest buildings in America near you? As you plan family road trips, let’s hope you are able to add a few to your itinerary. Then you’ll be able to learn the stories of these historic buildings.

Be sure to pin for future reference!

oldest buildings

oldest buildings


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