The octagon style homes are by far the easiest style of architecture to recognize. As hinted in its name “Octagon”, the exterior is formed by an eight-sided shape of walls. Some examples have shown as little as six exterior walls up to sixteen-sided walls. Even more, there have been examples of “round” octagon houses. Octagon Architecture is rare. Americans built Octagon homes during the period of 1850-1870, but not many. They built these homes in the North east and Midwest part of the country with a limited amount showing up in the south.
The Theory behind Octagon Architecture
A man by the name of Orson S. Fowler was a champion of Octagon architecture. He published a book in favor of this style entitled, “The Octagon House, a home for all” in 1849. He argued that the octagon shape housed more square feet per linear foot of exterior wall compared to the traditional rectangle or square. With this, Fowler explained that this reduces building cost as well as heating loss through the walls. Another argument made by Fowler was that the octagon house floor plan was far better than traditional designs in that it provided more sunlight, better ventilation, and also eliminate wasted square footage.
The above mentioned may prove to be good points; however, critics argue that the interior space does not taken into account certain things. Because of the angles of the exterior walls, interiors rooms did not benefit as described. Most rooms had only single wall exposure. Ventilation was intercepted by closet spaces. This could account for the low number or less than stellar success of Octagon architecture.
So how will you recognize an Octagon house? Well, obviously the exterior eight-sided wall is a dead give-away. Octagon homes have low pitched roofs and wide eave overhangs. Two story designs are common, but there are examples of single story homes as well. Eave brackets are a common feature with additional elements from romantic architecture Greek Revival, Gothic Revival style and Italianate architecture. In addition, 50% or more includes cupolas and nearly all examples include porches.