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UPCOMING EVENTS AT
THE OCTAGON HOUSE

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OCTAGON HOUSE OPEN HOUSE during the WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP ARTS & ORCHARDS FESTIVAL - Saturday, June 14 & Sunday, June 15.  Click HERE for details.
 

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WELCOME

The Friends of the Loren Andrus Octagon House are pleased that you have discovered us and invite you to learn more about our mission and the historic Loren Andrus Octagon House. 

Our Organization

Our 501(c) 3 non-profit organization was formed in mid-1980's with the goal of preserving and protecting the historic Loren Andrus Octagon House, its extended facilities and its grounds, for educational and community uses. We strive to promote the history of the Octagon House, Loren Andrus, his family and the architectural wonder that he completed in 1860. Reaching out, we also strive to be accessible to the public in our surrounding extended communities, while restoration and preservation to the house, barns and grounds continues.

Why It's So Special

Considered by many to be the first pure American housing style, the octagonal style is much different from the styles of architecture brought over from Europe. Thomas Jefferson was one of America's earliest advocates of octagon configurations, designing over fifty buildings with octagonal features. George Washington's Mount Vernon features an octagon schoolhouse and Mark Twain sat in an octagon-shaped study that was patterned after a riverboat captain's cabin, while he wrote Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.

The leading authority and promoter of these eight-sided wonders was Orson Squire Fowler. Fowler was America's foremost lecturer and writer on phrenology, at the time, a very popular method of science that analyzed character traits and provided vocational guidance based on the study of the shape of the human head. 

After graduating from Amherst College in Massachusetts, Fowler was conducting a thriving business when at age forty he took up home designing as a sideline. Already a very popular writer in 1848, he garnered new interest in architecture when he wrote, A Home For All. The book, highlighted the benefits of living in an octagonal home, and shortly after its publication, Fowler set an example for his followers and built his own huge, four-story octagonal mansion in Fishkill, New York.

Fowler believed that octagon structures were less expensive to build, they permitted additional living area using every inch of space, received more natural light through their large windows, were easier to heat, and remained cooler in the summer. Octagonal homes feature a spiral staircase that encompasses the center of the house leading to the other floors above.  In the winter, when the house was being heated
 
by wood or coal burning stoves, the upper floors would receive heat by it rising through the stairwell area. In the summer, the windows that surrounded almost the entire structure were opened to provide a breeze (Victorian air conditioning) that would be circulated throughout the house via the stairwell as well. 

Most of the octagon homes that were built in this country are on the East Coast. Fowler's book served as a catalyst for a few thousand octagonal homes to be erected. It's estimated that in several thousand octagon homes were built, mostly along the east coast of the U.S. and throughout the Midwest. Today, less than 500 of these rare, Victorian-era octagon houses remain. In Macomb County, we are very fortunate to have two remaining both in Washington Township! One is privately owned and the other is our beloved Loren Andrus Octagon House. 

Please take a moment to browse our website and learn more about this historic treasure, as well as our offerings. We hope that you also schedule a visit very soon! 

 

 

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