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5 Historic Buildings You Need to Visit

Taos Pueblo

Sometime between 1000 and 1450 AD, the Tiwa Indians of northern-New Mexico constructed the sacred, hallucinogenic-looking Taos Pueblo. One of the oldest continuously-inhabited buildings in the United States, the Taos Pueblo is a hodgepodge of cubic adobe buildings, piled on top of each-other like terracotta dice. These are enforced with ancient spruce beams that stick-out of the walls. The doors of the higher stories are accessible via wooden ladders.

Over the years, the Taos Pueblo has hosted countless Native American totemic ceremonies, as well as battles with Coronado’s conquistadors. Approximately 150 Tiwa Indians still reside inside the Methuselah-like structure. It serves as a vein between the Tiwa’s ancient traditions a millennia ago and their modern population. Nearby lies the town of Taos, which boasts a colorful history of artists and Bohemians, from Georgia O’Keefe to Dennis Hopper.

Oak Alley Plantation

Situated on the banks of the Mississippi River, in the heart of Louisiana’s Creole country, Oak Alley is a queenly, Romanesque antebellum mansion, centered within a former sugar plantation. Built by French plutocrats in 1839, Oak Alley’s checkered history of slavery is reflected in Quentin Tarantino’s film Django Unchained, which makes use of the estate’s slave cabins. In the film, the mansion doubles as the residence of ‘Big Daddy,’ played by Don Johnson.

What makes Oak Alley vital to visit is not only its superlative architecture, African-American and Creole heritage and lavish, excellently-preserved 1800s interior, but its unforgettable ‘alley’ of silver, elephantine live oak trees. These were planted in neat lines in the 1840s, with the intention of inspiring awe in future generations. A long, straight path is enclosed by the tunnel of the oaks’ draping, gothic canopy; echoing the literature of Truman Capote. This leads all the way from the mansion’s front door to the estate’s gates, opposite the Mississippi. 

This otherworldly setting is the perfect photo opportunity. What is more, friendly, knowledgeable tour guides in period costumes are there to guide you around the house, teaching you about its fascinating story.

Grotto of the Redemption

Isolated in the flat farmland and grain elevators of rural Iowa stands an eccentric, one-of-a-kind Catholic shrine. Built over a period of forty years, its pebbled steeples, archways and meandering apses of Madonna statues look as though they were sculpted by dripping turrets of wet sand. The grotto’s walls are mosaicked with prismatic gemstones, including topaz and quartz; in a similar style to the structural collaging of Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. 

All manner of adornments and meandering extensions have been added over time, making the shrine feel like an organic, evolving organism. Moreover, being used in David Lynch’s film, The Straight Story, the Grotto of the Redemption maintains its status as one of the midwest’s most unusual, intriguing and popular destinations.

Arlington Green Covered Bridge

Covered bridges are as inosculated with Vermont as maple syrup. Inspired by those pre-existing in Germany, these mythical functional structures are a fixture of the state’s quaint, autumnal landscape; mainstays in movies like Baby Boom and Beetlejuice. In folklore, they’re known as ‘kissing bridges.’ Teenagers would sneak into them at night to kiss, hidden from prying eyes.

One of Vermont’s oldest-surviving covered bridges is the Arlington Green Covered Bridge. Precariously straddling the banks of a brook, it is the most classic example of Vermont’s architecture. It has barn-red paint, peekaboo windows and a gabled roof. In addition to being longer than typical covered bridges, this one has not been structurally-reinforced in modern times. The result of this is a charming dip to its floor’s gradient, enriching it with as an old-fashioned, homely atmosphere as Vermont at-large.

If you desire to replicate a covered bridge look at home (for a garden shed, for instance), you should select a suitably-colored New England-crimson paint, before constructing a gabled roof. Furthermore, when prepping your wooden planks to build the walls, the use of a hand planer is preferred, in order to precisely trim your boards to a consistently uniform thickness. 

Olvera Street

With its sand-colored, Mediterranean-tiled Spanish Colonial buildings, this tree-shaded Mexican market is one of the most historic portions of Los Angeles, dating back to the 1820s. It’s located in a district called El Pueblo. This was the seed of LA during the colony of New Spain, from which all the city’s other districts blossomed. It includes La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles, the oldest church in the city. Families of Californios (Spaniards and mestizos who lived in California long-before it became a US state in 1850) continue to reside in the market’s time capsule villas, hundreds of years on.

On Olvera street, You’ll also find innumerable stores selling Mexican crafts and gifts, along with mariachi bands, street food and dancers in traditional Mayan headdresses and body paint. As exciting as it is interesting, Olvera Street is an optimal destination to spend a family day out in LA. 

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