McElroy Octagon House

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McElroy Octagon House
McElroy Octagon House 2022.jpg
The McElroy Octagon House in Gough St. San Francisco, California; structural concrete construction (built 1861)
McElroy Octagon House is located in San Francisco County
McElroy Octagon House
McElroy Octagon House
Location in San Francisco
McElroy Octagon House is located in California
McElroy Octagon House
McElroy Octagon House
McElroy Octagon House (California)
McElroy Octagon House is located in the United States
McElroy Octagon House
McElroy Octagon House
McElroy Octagon House (the United States)
LocationSan Francisco, California
Coordinates37°47′52″N 122°25′39″W / 37.79778°N 122.42750°W / 37.79778; -122.42750Coordinates: 37°47′52″N 122°25′39″W / 37.79778°N 122.42750°W / 37.79778; -122.42750
Architectural styleOctagon Mode
NRHP reference No.72000250[1]
SFDL No.17
Significant dates
Added to NRHPFebruary 23, 1972
Designated CHISLFebruary 23, 1972
Designated SFDLFebruary 3, 1969

The McElroy Octagon House, also known as the Colonial Dames Octagon House, is a historic octagonal house now located at 2645 Gough Street at Union Street in the Cow Hollow neighborhood of San Francisco, California.

It is listed as a San Francisco Designated Landmark since February 3, 1969;[2] listed as a California Historical Landmark since February 23, 1972;[3] and has been added to the National Register of Historic Places since February 23, 1972.[4]

The house is open to the public for tours, see signage.[5]


William C. McElroy (?–1869) and his spouse Harriet Shober (1816–1899) bought the lot across the street from the house's current location on Gough Street in 1859.[6][7] McElroy was a wood miller by trade and he built the house between 1860 and 1861.[4][6] Originally the house was designed with two floors (four rooms on each floor) with a winding staircase in the middle of the building.[8] The McElroy family lived in the house until around the 1880s when the house became a rental property.[6] Daniel O’Connell, a co-founder of the Bohemian Club, was one of the rental tenants.[6] In April 1906 the house was badly damaged during the 1906 Earthquake.[6] By 1909 the house was no longer owned by the McElroy family and it changed ownership many times.[6]

The house was vacant and neglected in 1951 when the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in California bought it, moved it across the street and began its restoration.[6] The house was restored by University of California, Berkeley's former Dean of Architecture, Warren C. Perry.[8] During the restoration, the original layout of the house was changed so it would be more functional as an event space.[8] By 1953 the building opened as a museum.[8]

The original location of the house (across the street) contains condominiums that were built on the property in 1955.[8]

McElroy Octagon House, Feusier Octagon House, and the Marine Exchange Lookout Station[9][10][11] at Land's End are the only three remaining octagon houses in the city.[2][12][13]

Haunting and folklore[edit]

The house is purportedly haunted by a pacing ghost that appears annually on November 24. After the 20th step sounds the ghost screams and makes a falling body sound.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. April 15, 2008.
  2. ^ a b "San Francisco Landmark #17: McElroy Octagon House". Retrieved 5 October 2018.
  3. ^ "McElroy Octagon House". CA State Parks. Retrieved 2022-12-01.
  4. ^ a b "Asset Detail: McElroy Octagon House". National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. 1972. Retrieved 2020-03-02.
  5. ^ Bravo, Tony (January 15, 2020). "Colonial Dames' Octagon House hopes to reach wider audience". Datebook, The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2022-12-01.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Dowd, Katie (2020-03-01). "The tin box that solved the mystery of San Francisco's Octagon House". SF Gate. Retrieved 2020-03-02.
  7. ^ "In Memoriam, Mrs. Harriet Shober McElroy". The San Francisco Call. National Endowment for the Humanities, Chronicling America. 1899-01-20. p. 9. ISSN 1941-0719. Retrieved 2020-03-02.
  8. ^ a b c d e Bevk, Alex (2012-06-01). "Then & Now: The Octagon House". Curbed SF. Retrieved 2020-03-02.
  9. ^ "Land's End Octagon House". Atlas Obscura. Retrieved 5 October 2018.
  10. ^ "Octagon house at Land's End - Richmond District Blog". 27 September 2009. Retrieved 5 October 2018.
  11. ^ Project, Western Neighborhods. "Octagon House at Land's End". Retrieved 5 October 2018.
  12. ^ "National Register #72000250: McElroy Octagon House in San Francisco, California". Retrieved 5 October 2018.
  13. ^ "Union Street Shopping, Dining & Travel Guide for San Francisco". Retrieved 5 October 2018.
  14. ^ Dowd, Katie (2020-03-01). "The tin box that solved the mystery of SF's weird 'Octagon House'". SFGate. Retrieved 2022-12-01.

External links[edit]