In 1848, Orson Squire Fowler, a native of the Genesee Country village of Cohocton, published A Home for All, or a New, Cheap, Convenient, and Superior Mode of Building in which he announced that the octagon house, with its eight sides, enclosed more space than a square one with equal wall space. The octagonal form had been used in public buildings in the past, but now as a concept for domestic architecture, it had a dedicated and convincing champion. Fowler's books, stressing the functional and stylistic advantages of the octagon house, found many readers and several hundred followers who sprinkled the landscape from New England to Wisconsin with eight-sided houses, barns, churches, schoolhouses, carriage houses, garden houses, smokehouses and privies.
When Corporal Hyde returned to Friendship, N.Y., from the Civil War, he briefly resumed farming and acquired an interest in a shingle mill. Along with his wife , Julia, he moved into the new octagonal house. He and his wife shortly joined a spiritualist group. Hyde later became a homeopathic physician. Julia Hyde, an accomplished musician and an ordained Methodist minister, held seances (it was said) in her parlor. When Julia died within two days of her husband, the belief arose that their departed spirits frequented the old, oddly-shaped house. (from: www.gvc.org/HistoricVillage)
January 20th, 2013
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