The United States is a comparatively young country, but one with a rich and diverse history. From the ancient villages of New Mexico’s Pueblo people and the early Spanish settlers in Florida, to the Russian traders of Alaska and 19th-century missionaries in Utah, each of the 50 states has its own story to tell.
There’s no better way to trace this history than through buildings, which is why we’ve mapped out the oldest intact building in each US state. Whether they’re cottages, grand mansions, fortresses or churches, these historic sites offer us a glimpse into the early days of the regions. They help us to understand what brought early inhabitants to the state – and what their lives might have been like.
Some of the buildings we’ve chosen only had a brief moment in the spotlight, like Nevada’s Old Mormon Fort, abandoned just a few years after the Utah War. Others have built up centuries of history, such as the Louis Bolduc House in Missouri. It was built for French-Canadian settlers in 1798, and their descendants continued to occupy it right up until the 1940s.
Some are impressive feats of construction, such as the wattle-and-daub Cataldo Mission in Idaho. Not a single nail was used in the entire building! Others, though, were less successful. Ka Hale Lāʻau in Hawaii was designed in and brought over from New England, with only a later realization that the structure was completely unsuitable for comfortable living in a tropical climate.
Whatever the case, these structures are all an important part of their respective state’s past. So get exploring – you might discover some buildings you didn’t expect!