Built in 1859, this stone and stucco octagon house beautifully represents the quirky octagon fad that swept New York State in the mid-19th century.
At the peak of the movement, there were thousands of octagon houses across the United States and Canada. They exemplified an idealistic movement in new architecture, with form following functionality.
Orson Fowler, a renowned phrenologist, inspired the movement in 1848 with his book The Octagon House: A Home for All. It promoted this method of construction for a number of reasons, including efficiency of building materials, improved ventilation and natural lighting relative to more conventionally shaped structures, to name a few.
These eight-sided homes are unusual to modern eyes, and stuck out when they were built in the 1850s as well. Octagon houses were for those who championed progressivism and didn’t mind standing apart from the crowd. Today, less than 1,000 of these unusual dwellings remain, one of which is the T.M. Younglove House in Hammondsport.
T.M. Younglove, whose father was one of the first to settle permanently in the area, in 1807, was a pillar of the burgeoning Pleasant Valley community. He had a stake in the local hardware store, rebuilt the schoolhouse, and was a founder of Pleasant Valley Wine company, which is still in operation today a quarter mile down the road from his house. A forward-thinking man like Younglove required a house that reflected his principles, so he built his own eight-sided home. His descendants lived in the house until the 1960s.
Though the Youngloves have since left their unusual mansion, the octagon house still promotes wellness within its eight walls. The historic building is currently the home of the Black Sheep Inn and Spa.
Know Before You Go
Tours of the Octagon House are available by appointment. Call the Black Sheep Inn and Spa at 607-569-3767.