There is something intriguing about private homes that become public museums. They allow the opportunity to travel back in time, viewing life as others lived it. Two examples of historical architecture that have been preserved as public museums are the Jackson Homestead and Museum in Newton, MA and the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens in Miami.

The Jackson homestead was built in Newton, MA in 1809. It’s architecture is indicative of the Federal style, which was popular at the time. Federal features include references to classic Greek and Roman architecture in the form of side-lights and fan-lights, a flat facade and regal columns. The Jacksons were some of the largest landowners in Massachusetts at the time and were very involved in politics. One of the house’s most remarkable attributes is that it served as part of the Underground Railroad. In 1949, a family member donated the home to the City of Newton, where it has been preserved as a public museum.

Jackson Homestead Museum

Jackson Homestead & Museum. Source:


A very different architectural style can be seen in the grand Vizcaya, which was built as a subtropical winter home for James Deering in the 1910s. Deering was in poor health when he retired, and Vizcaya was built so he could follow “doctor’s orders” for sun and relaxation. The estate reflects Deering’s two passions: landscaping and plant preservation and the grounds are stunning. It became a museum in 1952 but has only been considered historical architecture in recent years.

Villa Vizcaya

Villa Vizcaya. Source: Wikimedia Commons

While visiting Vizcaya, Leslie meet amazing artist and friend, Paul Hampton Crockett , who was there painting “en pleine”. Which brings up the point that these historic homes are more than portals to the past. They can also be a source of inspiration for artists, architects and the general public.

Interested in renovating a historical property? Contact LS&A Architecture and Interiors.