The Octagon Style began in America at the middle of the 19th Century, but had run its course by 1860. There are a few thousand of these eight-sided homes said to still be found in North America. The design centered around a concept that the shape would positively influence the emotional states of the owners--a kind of early American feng shui. Examples remain in the American South, the Northeast, and particularly in Wisconsin. Architect Orson Squire Fowler championed the style, saying it was an inexpensive, solid, and more-livable alternative to the ornate, asymmetrical homes of the day done in Italianate, Greek, or Gothic Revival styles.
Homes, schools, and barns copied the Octagon pattern. With its eight-sided cupola, the Octagon home offered residents more control over the ventilation and light that entered the house. Walls were constructed of concrete or gravel, sparing homeowners the more-expensive sidings of wood and brick.
The Octagon is a style of architecture devised and promoted by O.S. Fowler of Fowler & Wells of New York. In 1848 Mr. Fowler published A Home for All, a book extolling the benefits of octagon shaped homes. Fowler claimed that octagonal shapes were cheaper to build and yielded more useable space per linear foot than buildings of other shapes. An additional benefit was said to be better light and ventilation due to more wall surface for installation of windows and better inside flow. Fowler's plans for the Octagon Style were executed until around 1860. Fowler's concept was not restricted to specifically eight sides or eight angles but rather with the idea of building based on a circle instead of a square or a rectangle. The characteristics of Octagon Style are eight walls, a cupola or pergola style roof, two or more stories, a raised basement with the walls protruding above ground, and windows on most, if not all, walls. Two excellent examples of large octagon houses are Longwood in Natchez, MS (also known as Nutt's Folly) and the John Richards Octagon House in Watertown, WI.