There’s an octagonal house in my town, and it’s noted in the now out-of-print AIA guide. We also boast the largest number of colonial-era homes and buildings still standing, some going back to the 17th C.
My understanding is they were made by ancestral relatives of mine, or at least friends of, who had a factory that made papier-mâché toys. (I need Henry Louis Gates Jr. to work out my French family tree).
We had one of these dogs in my childhood home. It’s name was/is “Bubba.”
This is clearly an ideal lair for Kool Keith’s alter-ego’s lesser-known second cousin Prof. Octophrenologist.
Having lived in an octagon house for a few years, I’m saddened that they chopped this up to have rectangular rooms.
That said, it’s a pain to place furniture with no/few 90° corners…
The original design had a central staircase with a cupola on top, which made a great chimney. They idea behind the gravel walls, was that they would be less likely to burn.
I’ve wanted to design and build one of these houses for close to 50 years now, after reading Andre Norton’s book that happens in one.
The part about every room getting sunlight during the day is… perplexing… but it’s not actually hard to design a building where all the rooms get direct sunlight anyway. Except usually you wouldn’t want that. At white-folk latitudes, to get a consistently well-lit room, you situate it facing north, which lets you make the windows large because they won’t get direct sunlight.
That’s not very Octagon-specific, that’s just typical for the period.
Only yesterday a planning application landed on my desk, for converting a house build in 1860 (or 1840, not quite clear yet) as a spacious villa for a local business man, into 8 individual apartments.
Bog standard rectangular ground-plan, three floors plus huge attic, central staircase, large skylight to flood the staircase with natural light.
First order of business is to check on how the fire protection concept proposes to deal with this.
A simple and elegant solution follows.
I guess it’s true what they say about Real Estate. Location! Location! Location! I personally didn’t see enough house and yard to justify $8.6 million but the views must have been amazing before they put in that residential tower. Still good views but the Harbor view would justify that price.
Not built for a phrenologist, but several years back I did visit Longwood in Natchez, which claims to be the largest octagonal home in the US.
They could have done a lot more (and maybe they do, now: our visit was several years ago) to explicity tell the story of slavery in relation to the house, but it was still a fascinating architectural trip. The house is particularly interesting because its construction was abandoned at the outset of the civil war, and was never completed. You get to effectively visit a 19th Cenmtury construction site, where all the usually-hidden structure and material is there to see, and frankly in very good condition.
Atlas Obscura has some more information, including a floor plan:
Modern version, not as stylish:
Oh wow, it’s actually beautiful! I avoided reading this article for a while based on the headline because houses of unusual shape tend to be from the 30s or the 60s and while those can be beautiful in their own right they’re not what I would want to live in. But this is great! Especially the top lantern room.
The book referenced in the article that inspired its design is available as a free eBook on Google Books.A Home for All; Or, The Gravel Wall and Octagon Mode of Building. Very interesting reading.
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