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Octagon House, Watertown

The Octagon House in Watertown, Wisconsin, also known as the Octagon House Museum or the John Richards Octagon House, was built in 1854 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. It is one of many octagon houses built in the United States in the mid-19th century.HistoryThe house was designed and built by John Richards, a lawyer and mill owner, with construction completed in 1854. It was still in the Richards family until the death of his grandson, William Thomas, in 1935. The family offered to sell the house to the city (reputedly for $1) but it was sold to the Watertown Historical Society (founded 1933), and opened to the public in 1938. The house is still a museum open to the public.The house is built of brick, and is across excluding the balconies. It has eight square rooms on each floor and triangular rooms in the corners, a total of 32 rooms including the cupola. The porches or verandas running all round the house are constructed in timber. They are part of the original design, but by 1924 they were so rotten as to be dangerous, and Richards' daughter had them taken down. For many years visitors could only imagine the house with its porches by referring to a scale model of the house, which sits in the grass next to the house. The porches were reconstructed in 1978 at a cost of $50,000. By 2006 they were again in a dangerous condition and an anonymous donation enabled them to be restored once more.
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52 reviews
  • A beautiful and historic home set in a quaint neighborhood. Being the first house built in Watertown, the construction was decades ahead of even houses built in the 50's -60's. It's a must see, adults...  more »
  • Tour the unique home and relocate school house. There is a gift shop with information on the history of the house on the grounds. Parking is limited to the street.  more »
  • The Octagon House along with the First Kindergarten are a fascinating attraction when visiting Watertown. This older home has plenty of history and charm! A must see when coming to Watertown.  more »
  • Fascinating place.. A 'must see' in Watertown
  • Unique collection of local Watertown history, including America's first Kindergarten, the "plank road" tollway of the 1800's, and of course, the huge Octagon House and all its porches, doors and innovations (for the time).
  • Gorgeous historical monument.
  • Cool place to visit
  • History come alive!

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