Octagon House

Built in 1860 by Dr. Horace Wakefield, the Octagon House is a series of octagon shapes built around a central cupola in Reading, Mass.

Its unusual shape draws on ideas of Dr. Orson Squire Fowler. He deemed this kind of styling ideal because it increases cross-ventilation, making it healthier than a box-shaped house. (He also designed octogon-shaped churches and houses during his time.)

According to Fowler’s 1848 book, The Octagon House: A Home For All, or A New, Cheap, Convenient, and Superior Mode of Building, other perks to the shape include more space than boxy rooms, additional natural light and panoramic views.

A graduate of Amherst College, its owner, Dr. Horace Wakefield, taught school before practicing medicine. He was on the local school committee, served as town clerk for two years and was the Secretary of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society.

The Octagon House was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.

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