Legends of the Octagon House - Atlas Obscura
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Washington, D.C.

Legends of the Octagon House

Go behind the scenes after hours at the District's most notorious house.

Designed by the U.S. Capitol's architect William Thornton, the Octagon House has had more than its fair share of tragedies and mysterious deaths. 

Completed in 1800 for Colonel John Tayloe, the odd six-sided house was one of the only buildings spared in the city when the British burned Washington in 1814. After the destruction of the White House, the home became a temporary residence for President Madison and the First Lady. Through the years, the house has seen much tragedy, including the supposed deaths of two of Tayloe's daughters.

Join the Atlas Obscura Society D.C. for an after-hours curated tour from the Octagon House Manager Maggie Phalen. We will explore the history and unique architecture of the house, along with why its earned its much-known deathly reputation. We will be given the privilege of seeing parts of the house that are not open to the public and have been recently renovated. 

Prior to the tour, we will enjoy a glass of home-brewed ginger beer, a favorite treat of architect William Thornton. 

Additional Details

  • We will meet in the lobby. The program will start promptly at 4:30 p.m. 
  • The closest Metro to the Octagon is Farragut West on the Blue, Orange, and Silver Lines.
  • Street parking is available, though we recommend public transportation. 
  • This event is family friendly!


Contact Fiona at fiona.clem@atlasobscura.com.

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