List of octagon houses
This is a list of octagon houses. A large number of octagon houses were built in the United States before the American Civil War, and of these, at least 68 are included on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) and survive to this day.
Of these, six are further designated National Historic Landmarks of the United States: Armour-Stiner House in the Hudson River valley in New York, which is perhaps the only domed octagon house in the world; The Octagon House in Washington, D.C. where President Madison lived after the White House was burnt by the British; Thomas Jefferson's retreat Poplar Forest; May's Folly in Georgia; Samuel Sloan-designed Longwood in Natchez, Mississippi, still unfinished after its construction was halted by the American Civil War; and Waverley, also in Mississippi.
Orson Squire Fowler's 1848 book The Octagon House, A Home for All and his "monumental" four-story, 60-room house built during 1848–1853, Fowler's Folly in Fishkill, New York, provided inspiration for a nation-wide fad. Fifty-nine of the sixty-six pre-Civil War houses on the NRHP were built between 1849 and 1861. It is reported that the owner of the first-built of these, the Rich-Twinn Octagon House in western New York, was impressed by seeing an octagon house in the Hudson River Valley, presumably Fowler's home under construction.
In 1958 Carl F. Schmidt published The Octagon Fad which attempted to inventory the Fowler-inspired homes, most of which were built prior to 1915 in North America. However only a small fraction of the total are notable and extant.
At least 20 historic octagon houses are known to exist in Canada, distributed across four eastern provinces. Extant octagon houses in Canada include the following:
- In New Brunswick
- In Nova Scotia
- Tatamagouche: Fraser Octagon House, built in 1857, provincially designated heritage site
- Ameliasburg, Prince Edward County
- Bracebridge: Woodchester Villa, a provincially designated heritage site
- Burlington: The Thomas Pickett Octagonal House, built 1860, at 6103 Guelph Line, designated under the Ontario Heritage Act
- Calabogie: 15 Octagon Lane
- Clark's Corners, Oxford County
- Maple: Major MacKenzie Drive
- Morton, northeast of Kingston, former octagon schoolhouse, also used as a residence
- Mount Pleasant, Brant County: 646 Mount Pleasant Road, now used as a spa
- Niagara Falls: Bradley Octagon House, built 1861, at 5783 Summer Street
- Otterville: Woodlawn Octagon House, built 1861, moved from Millvale
- Peel Region: 8280 Heritage Road, near Huttonville
- Port Hope, built 1856
- Picton, Prince Edward County, built ca. 1860
- Westport, on Upper Rideau Lake
Notable octagon houses in the U.S. include the following, more than 80 in number, in date built order. The octagonal outlines of these houses may be seen in Google maps and other satellite photo services, by zooming in from satellite view above, to their locations. Specifically, almost all of the following listed ones are mapped and may be observed via satellite view in the Google external link here (click on "Map of all coordinates" to the right).
Notable former octagon houses
|House name||Image||Date built||Location||County or equivalent||State||Description|
|Fowler's Folly||1853||Fishkill||Dutchess||NY||Octagonal home of Orson Squire Fowler, built 1848–1853, condemned as a public health hazard and dynamited in 1897.|
|Russell Octagon House||1859||Bloomfield||Davis||IA||NRHP; removed from NRHP in 1998 due to deterioration and lack of maintenance.|
|John Wood Octagonal House||1864||Quincy||Adams||IL||Built by the town's founder, John Wood, later the governor of Illinois, at a cost said of $200,000. Demolished in the 1950s or 1960s|
|Octagonal House||1875||Ames||Story||IA||Constructed in the 1870s, demolished in 1982. Namesake and original location of The Octagon Center for the Arts.|
- That 68 were built by 1861 is documented by listing in the table, with date built provided by almost all from the NRIS system. For a few, as noted in their separate articles, the Robert V. Kline site, listed as an external link below, was the source for the date of construction.
- National Park Service. "National Historic Landmark Program: NHL Database". Retrieved on various dates.
- National Park Service (November 2007). "National Historic Landmarks Survey: List of National Historic Landmarks by State" (PDF). Archived from the original on April 14, 2008. Retrieved June 18, 2008.
- Bonafide, John A. (July 1997). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination:David Van Gelder Octagon House". Retrieved June 8, 2008. and Accompanying 10 photos, exterior and interior
- Todd, Nancy. L. (December 1994). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination:Rich-Twinn Octagon House". Retrieved June 18, 2008. and Accompanying four photos, exterior and interior, from 1994
- Donna Remer (February 8, 2005). "Octagon House and the Underground Railroad". The Voice. Retrieved June 18, 2008.[dead link]
- "1856 Octagon House". Marlenesheirlooms.Com. Retrieved March 6, 2008.
- That there are 84 NRHP octagon houses is documented by National Register reports identifying the below-listed properties as having "Octagon mode" architecture, or other indications of octagon house nature for these listed properties. Also, eight historic districts are noted to contain octagon houses as contributing properties, which may include others not listed here.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2008-04-15.
- Per Bonafide, citing Cramer, Sec 8-page 2 in Bonafide
- Kline, Robert V. "Inventory of Older Octagon, Hexagon, and Round Houses". rvkline. Retrieved June 20, 2008.
- In Canada, the octagon house craze also engendered an octagonal deadhouse phenomenon. This included octagonal deadhouses, pre-burial edifices, built in the mid-to-late 19th century along Yonge Street in south-central Ontario, from just north of Toronto to Aurora. At least 3 octagon houses are classified as heritage sites, one in Richmond Hill and the other in King.
- Kline, Robert V. "Inventory of Older Octagon, Hexagon, and Round Houses: Canada". rvkline. Retrieved June 23, 2008.
- See photo of Sackville one here
- The Google external link provides a U.S. map showing the locations of 85 of the houses listed below. Not included are any houses for which latitude and longitude coordinates are not available. Zooming in, and switching to "Satellite View", you may observe the octagonal outline of the houses, exactly at, or very near to the flagged locations. For a few sites, however, Google does not provide satellite view coverage in sufficient detail.
- "Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest". Poplar Forest.
- The Octagon House, Orson S Fowler: Introduction to the Dover Publications, Inc. 1973 reprint of 1848 original publication.
- NRHP weekly update 6/12/98
- "Inventory of Older Octagon, Hexagon, and Round Houses": directory of historic U.S. and Canadian houses with many photos, compiled by Robert Kline.
- Octagonal Houses in Canada