Home Realestate Is The Octagon America’s Weirdest House Style?

Is The Octagon America’s Weirdest House Style?

by Enochadmin

Designers, architects, inventers and imaginative owners are all the time in search of new shapes for homes. Now we have seen sod dwellings dug into the prairie, igloos, Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion Home, yurts, Frank Gehry’s titanium explosions, geodesic domes – somebody is all the time making an attempt to get away from sq. and rectangular shapes for our residing areas. Typically they work. Usually, as in Fuller’s case, they’re oddities that show unlivable.

The octagon was such an innovation in American home structure. The eight-sided home form was most famously championed by Orson Fowler, who printed The Octagonal Mode in 1848 after which its follow-up, The Octagon Home: A Residence For All, or A New, Low-cost, Handy, and Superior Mode of Constructing. Fowler, a persuasive lecturer, inspirational speaker and phrenologist (the ‘science’ of defining a person’s traits by the contours of the cranium) stated that this home fashion was simple to construct and extra purposeful than standard homes. Any man may construct a home for himself, Fowler stated, by driving a stake into the bottom, making an attempt a string to it and drawing a circle. He would then sq. it off twice and erect a basis on the ensuing eight straight sides. The info of constructing are, after all, much more sophisticated, however Fowler was nothing if not persuasive.

A circle is a most effective form, however troublesome to construct and awkward to furnish, so an octagon is a smart approximation. Victorian builders have been used to constructing 135-degree corners, as within the typical bay window, and will simply adapt to an octagonal plan.

The octagon home, which Fowler promoted as the final word dwelling for the center class, was usually encircled with a porch, topped with an eight-sided cupola, had a low-pitched roof and, often, a raised basement. Fowler advocated setting up from concrete, although brick and wooden framing have been usually used. The fashion reached its apex between 1850 and 1870, when a number of thousand octagons have been constructed, particularly in New York’s Hudson River Valley, but in addition in New England, the Midwest and close by components of Canada.

Typically, particularly in hotter climates, the porches served because the entry to upstairs rooms, very similar to the verandahs of early French homes within the Mississippi Delta. This was pushed, partly, by the constructing’s round orientation, which meant {that a} staircase was both a central air shaft or awkwardly positioned. The home’s primary form additionally made for rooms with odd angles; whereas central rooms tended to be sq. and generously proportioned, exterior rooms have been usually triangles. By the 1870s, the octagon was not trendy.

In addition to exhibiting limits as a designer, Fowler displayed ignorance of constructing historical past: he was apparently unaware that the Romans had used concrete of their buildings, or that Thomas Jefferson had constructed an octagonal home when, in 1806, he started development of Poplar Forest, his retreat in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Different well-known octagons survive. The McElroy Octagon House, also known as the Colonial Dames Octagon House, is a museum home open to the general public in San Francisco. In Natchez, Mississippi is Longwood, the biggest octagonal home in america. Designed in 1859, it was being constructed by enslaved individuals when, in 1861, the Civil Conflict halted development. Longwood is legendary for the distinction between its ornately completed first flooring and the unfinished higher flooring; of the 32 rooms deliberate for the home, solely 9 rooms on the basement flooring have been accomplished. It, too, is a home museum. One other giant, ornate octagon is a personal dwelling, the Armour–Stiner House in Irvington, New York, the one identified totally domed octagonal residence.

Octagons nonetheless exist, particularly within the older neighborhoods of the northeast. However they’re all vestiges of a discredited fad that now we have discarded, very similar to Orson Fowler’s phrenology theories.

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