The United States, one of the world’s largest and most influential nations, came into being on July 4, 1776. That gives us a grand total of 244 years of existence as a nation. But the historical circumstances that gave rise to this multiethnic superpower go back quite a ways.
The advent of the first European inhabitants marked the beginning of a period of rapid architectural growth in this country. Structures constructed at this time feature astounding architecture that has endured for centuries. Present-day America is home to some very old structures; in fact, many of them are much older than the country itself.
So, here are the oldest buildings in the US.
1. San José Church
San José Church is one of the oldest standing buildings in the United States and was built during the 16th-century. This historic church is located in Old San Juan, and was built by the Dominican Order in the Spanish Gothic architecture style.
Initially, San José Church was part of the Saint Aquinas monastery, before it got separated and was renamed.
2. La Fortaleza
Referred to as “The Fortress”, La Fortaleza is a government building that was built in 1533. Currently, La Fortaleza is renowned for being the oldest executive mansion in the world.
This beautiful mansion has been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site and is located in San Juan.
3. Castillo San Felipe del Morro
Also located in the city of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Castillo San Felipe del Morro is one of the oldest government buildings in the world.
Designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, this building was built during the 16th-century. Moreover, Castillo San Felipe del Morro is operated by the National Park Service.
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4. Catedral Metropolitana Basílica de San Juan Bautista
Situated in the state of Puerto Rico, this is one of the second-oldest cathedral buildings in the country. Built using the famous Neoclassical architecture style, this cathedral was built in 1540 and has been renovated beautifully since then. Interestingly, 2021 marks the 500th anniversary of this wonderful cathedral.
5. Porta Coeli
Located in San Germany, Puerto Rico, Porta Coeli is one of the oldest buildings in the US. Built in 1609, Porta Coeli is a designated national historical site.
Additionally, this cathedral is home to a religious museum which was created after Porta Coeli’s renovation in the 19th-century. Porta Coeli is a single-nave cathedral consisting of a wooden truss roof.
6. Palace of the Governors
The oldest standing American building outside the state of Puerto Rico, Palace of the Governors is one of the most historic buildings in the United States.
It is a registered national historic place that is situated in New Mexico. Furthermore, Palace of the Governors was also declared as a National Historic Landmark in 1960.
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7. Henry Whitfield House
Located in Guilford, Henry Whitfield House is the oldest and one of the most historic buildings in Connecticut. Built in 1639, Henry Whitfield House is an American Colonial-styled house.
Moreover, this historic house was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1997. When there were no churches in the town, this iconic house was also used as a place of worship.
8. Richard Sparrow House
Made using the iconic American Colonial style of architecture, Richard Sparrow House is the oldest house in Massachusetts. Built in 1640, this house is built on a 16-acre land. Currently, this historically designated house is a museum and an art gallery.
9. Samuel Lucius-Thomas Howland House
The second-oldest house in Massachusetts, Samuel Lucius-Thomas Howland House is one of the oldest buildings in the country right now.
The construction of this residential house was completed in 1640, and it is still a private residence till now. Initially, the house belonged to Thomas Howland before he transferred it to Samuel Lucius.
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10. Fairbanks House
Fairbanks House is one of the oldest standing timber-frame buildings in the United States right now. It was built in 1641 and was declared as a National Historic Landmark in 1960.
This historic house was built in numerous phases with its central part being its oldest portion. Additionally, the west wing of this house was constructed later in 1954.
11. Nathaniel Felton Houses
The Nathaniel Felton Houses are two houses that were constructed at the same time on two different streets in Massachusetts. These houses were named after their architect, Nathaniel Felton Sr. As of right now, these houses are historic house museums in the city of Peabody.
12. Feake-Ferris House
Also referred to as the Ross Ferris House, this historic house is one of the oldest buildings in the US, oldest in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Initially, Feake-Ferris House was constructed in 1645, and later redesigned and renovated in 2018. This iconic house was by the Ferris family for over hundreds of years and is now owned by Lueder family.
13. De Vargas Street House
Known as the Oldest House, De Vargas Street House is actually one of the oldest buildings in the state of New Mexico.
The original timeline of its construction is not fully known, but it is estimated that the house was built in 1646. In fact, locals claim that this house was actually built even before the Spanish colonists arrived.
14. Wing Fort House
Built in 1646, Wing Fort House was the oldest house in New England that was continuously owned by the same family. It is claimed that during a certain time in its history, Wing Fort House was used as a fort by Native Americans when the first settlers arrived.
Moreover, it was registered as a national historic place in 1976 and is currently a museum.
15. Jamestown Church
Construction of this church was started in 1639 with brick and was finished in 1647. Jamestown Church is the oldest surviving building that was built during the original thirteen colonies.
Additionally, this church is now a part of a historic cultural site called Historic Jamestowne. Jamestown Church has gone through six different renovations since its initial construction.
As we can notice, from the five entries on this list, the five oldest buildings in the US that are still standing, are all in Puerto Rico. This shows the incredible resilience and world-class quality of these Spanish Gothic architectural style buildings. Other buildings on this list are mostly American Colonial residential houses, that are museums now.