The Armour-Stiner (Octagon) House is one
of the most visually unique homes in the world. It is the only known
residence constructed in the eight-sided, domed colonnaded shape of
a classic Roman Temple.
The Octagon House was originally built in the 1860s following
the publication of The Octagon House, a Home for All by Orson Squire
Fowler, a phrenologist, sexologist and amateur architect. Fowler advocated
octagonal instead of four-sided houses on the supposition that the
shape enclosed more space, created rooms which received twice as
much sunlight and had greater accessibility to each other.
In 1872, the house was purchased by Joseph Stiner, a prominent New
York City tea merchant. His alterations created the present lyrical
structure. The exterior embellishments are extraordinarily festive
with floral detailing in the cast iron cresting and railings and elaborately
carved wood scrollwork and capitals – all painted in shades
of rose, blue, violet and red. The interiors are equally decorative
with painted and stenciled ceilings, trim with gold, silver and bronze
leaf and unique 8-sided motifs in the plasterwork, woodwork and etched
Subsequent owners of the house have been imaginative people. In the
1930s it was occupied by Aleko E. Lilius, a Finnish writer
and explorer who had lived with a female pirate who plundered ships
off the coast of China. Carl Carmer, the celebrated author, poet and
historian, resided in the house from 1946 to the time of his death
in 1976. The house plays a role in a number of his published tales,
including stories of a resident ghost.
Shortly after the death of Carl Carmer, the house was acquired by
the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Unstable and in need
of restoration, it was the first house to be resold to a private citizen.
Joseph Pell Lombardi, the owner, is a Preservation Architect who has
conserved the house, interiors, grounds and outbuildings.
For interior views, click here