The Octagon Mode

The 1855 Captain George Scott House in Wiscasset, Maine was likely inspired by “Squire” Orson S. Fowler’s 1848 book, “The Octagon Mode,” which promoted the building of octagonal houses. Fowler believed them to be “optimal for modern family living.”

His designs typically featured a central hall and spiral stair and such modern conveniences as closets (in all the odd triangular spaces left over when placing rectangular rooms in an octagon), central heating, and indoor plumbing.

They were America’s first house fad. Like most fads, it was short lived. Most were built (with detailing in a variety of popular styles of the period) within a decade of the book’s publication.

Relatively rare house types and styles have added historic significance and their preservation should be a priority. “Restoring Your Historic House, The Comprehensive Guide for Homeowners” was written to help people understand what is significant about their house and how to preserve the character-defining features while making it livable in the 21st century.

The award-winning and bestselling 720-page hardcover book is available in bookstores and from online retailers.

Signed and personalized copies are available directly from the author in our shop YourHistoricHouse.com/shop/.

Want to learn more about historic house styles? “A Field Guide to American Houses” by Virginia Savage is the classic book for identifying house styles and is available in our shop. The shop also carries select preservation and restoration titles by other authors. Save with our multi-book combo packs!

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