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'American Gothic' House Available To Rent

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'American Gothic' House Available To Rent

Business

'American Gothic' House Available To Rent

'American Gothic' House Available To Rent

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The renter of Iowa's most famous house is moving out. The farm house pictured in Grant Wood's painting, American Gothic, is rented out by the state's historical society.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And now for our last word in Business, which is pitchfork not included. Iowa's most famous house might soon be up for rent. It is the farmhouse pictured in Grant Wood's 1930 painting "American Gothic."

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

You know the one - farmer with a pitchfork.

INSKEEP: Oh, yeah.

CORNISH: Standing next to a woman, his daughter actually, in front of a clapboard house. The 700-square-foot home is in Eldon, Iowa, and it's rented out by the State Historical Society.

INSKEEP: The most recent tenant, Beth Howard, moved out last week. And she got on the line to tell us what it was like to live there.

BETH HOWARD: The rent was only $250 a month. And that was what I was paying for my storage unit in Portland, Oregon.

INSKEEP: Wow - cheap to live in Iowa. Howard is a writer and a baker, we're told. She happened on the house while visiting her nearby hometown.

HOWARD: I didn't even know the house existed, and I saw a road sign that said the house was six miles off the highway I was traveling on. And so I stopped to see it and fell in love with it, and I moved in two weeks later.

CORNISH: Howard says the house is charming.

HOWARD: It's got all kinds of nooks and crannies and wide wood planks on the floor with square nailheads that poke you in the foot every so often if you're not careful. You get to walk around with a hammer.

INSKEEP: (Laughter) The rental may be a private residence, but it's also a very public tourism destination. Holly Berg is director of the American Gothic House Center, which is the museum next door.

HOLLY BERG: We get about 15,000 or 16,000 visitors a year.

CORNISH: Not bad for a town of 900. Visitors love to pose for photos out front, and the museum provides everything they need to re-create the painting.

BERG: We have the overalls and the pitchforks and the round glasses and the apron, down to the cameo on the woman's dress.

INSKEEP: Wait a minute - turns out the pitchfork is included. Anyway, Beth Howard says she saw some interesting interpretations during her time living in the house.

HOWARD: People pose with their motorcycles; people pose with their horses and llamas and rock bands.

CORNISH: Well, Howard moved out this week after four years there.

HOWARD: I think there's a statute of limitations for how long one can live in a tourist attraction.

INSKEEP: So she has moved to her own farmhouse, where she gets to choose who might pose out front. And that's the Business News on MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

CORNISH: And I'm Audie Cornish.

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