Virginia March 17, 2018
History Left A Definite Mark At This One Fascinating Spot In Virginia
Exploring historic buildings in Virginia is a fascinating journey into the past. Various styles have come and gone, yet what remains often preserves history in a way that’s otherwise hard to capture. Here in Virginia, we’re lucky to have such “living museums” to provide important insight into the past. One such example is a fascinating building known as the Octagon House in Marion, Virginia. Constructed in the 1850s, this home was completely in vogue with the current style yet today seems utterly bizarre.
The trend of octagonal houses was a brief yet distinctive movement in American architecture in the 1850s. The style was revolutionized by a man named Orion Fowler, who authored the book "The Octagon House: A Home For All, or A New, Cheap, Convenient, and Superior Mode of Building" in 1848. Just 10 years later, a man by the name of Abijah Thomas constructed his own Octagon House in Marion.
This stunning eight-sided home was built by slaves using bricks made on the property. With seventeen rooms and two stories, It stands as one of the largest remaining examples of the octagonal house in the country. Fowler believed that homes of this unique shape were not only easier to build than conventional houses, but also allowed for more natural light.
Today, the house has deteriorated almost completely, yet it's still possible to admire its unique characteristics. The 6,000 square foot mansion boasted incredible views of the mountains and the South Fork of the Holston River.
Despite the natural light and beauty of the mansion, there is one rather dark foundational element that's hard to ignore. The interior room, known as the "Dark Room" (photographed above) is rumored a place of horrible mistreatment of slaves. In fact, fingerprints of the slave builders can still be seen in some of the home's exterior brickwork. It's perhaps unsurprising then that the house is also reported to be incredibly haunted.
The house was left abandoned for many years until relatively recently when a local resident purchased the property in hopes of preserving the building. He has since formed a nonprofit in hopes of turning the home into a cultural center. This would then allow visitors to see the architectural importance of the Octagon Home while also understanding its dark and complicated history.
Please note that this house is considered to be private property and moreover, attempting to enter the house is dangerous due to its unstable structure. To learn more about the Octagon House Foundation,
click here. For related content, be sure to read about how This Historic Virginia House Is Among The Most Haunted In The Nation.