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octagonal houseIn Columbiaville, New York, a small hamlet with Stockport stands this rare octagon house. Built in 1860, by John Smith, this house was part of a popular Octagon House movement that started in the 1850s. Octagon houses were popularized by Orson Squire Fowler, a man who practiced the pseudoscience of phrenology, where skull bumps were measured in order to determine character traits. Fowler’s 1853 book, A Home for All: Or a New, Cheap, Convenient and Superior Mode of Building touted the advantages of octagonal homes and resulted in a few thousand octagonal houses being erected in the United States.

Fowler reasoned octagon houses were cheaper to build, provided more living space, received more natural light, were easier to heat, and remained cooler in the summer.


John Smith’s Octagon House in Columbiaville is built of the gravel wall that Fowler promoted. Each side is 16 feet tall and the roof is marked by an open cupola that is accessible by ladder from the second floor. Around 1900, the house was changed from a stucco exterior to a clapboard to protect the failing exterior walls.

Know Before You Go..

  • This house is a private residence, so please be respectful of the owner’s property and privacy






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