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The Short-Lived Octagon House Craze of the 19th Century

6 places to visit some of America's last eight-sided homes.

If you were a forward-thinking individualist in 1800s America, building an eight-sided abode was a great way to show it. The octagon house was a cutting-edge design at the time, believed to be a more efficient use of space, energy, and cost than the conventional square.

The architectural fad swept through the U.S. and Canada, spurred by the 1848 book by Orson Fowler, The Octagon House: A Home for All, which touted the supposed practical benefits of eight sides over four. Thousands of these geometric oddities were built by the time the trend hit its peak in the 1860s. They were generally two stories high, with a flat roof, cupola, and veranda that circled around.

The movement did not last long, however. The octagonal home fell out of vogue by the early 1900s. Today, octagon buildings are a rare enough find to be novel once more. Here are six places where you can see the remnants of this curious architectural trend.


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