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Octagon Houses Collection

Octagon Houses Collection

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Guide to the Octagon Houses Collection

1940-1979 (bulk 1945-1956)

New York State Historical Association - Research Library
Special Collections
P.O. Box 800, 5798 State Highway 80
Cooperstown, NY 13326
(607) 547-1470

Profile Description

Creation: This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit 2014-02-26T11:34-0500

Repository: New York State Historical Association - Research Library
Title: Octagon Houses Collection
Dates: 1940-1979 (bulk 1945-1956)
Quantity: 6.0 cubic feet (11 boxes, including 1 OVS)
Funding Source:This finding aid was made available electronically through a Regional Bibliographic Data Bases (RBDB) grant from the South Central Regional Library Council, Ithaca, N.Y.
Identification: Coll. No. 42
Language: English

Scope and Content Note

This collection comprises primarily photographic images of octagon houses from locations in the United States, over half of them from New York State. The New York State octagon house files were gathered for use in Octagon Buildings in New York State, compiled by Ruby M. Rounds of the New York State Historical Association. The information and photographs for the compilation were supplied by Stephen R. Leonard, Sr. Additional photographs and research came from Mrs. K.R.J. Edholm and Bertha Guptill. The original publication of this compilation was in New York History, Vol. 33, nos. 2 and 3, April and July 1952, edited by Janet R. MacFarlane, Curator, New York State Historical Association. Also included are newspaper clippings, articles, correspondence, research notes, associated published materials, and two photograph albums.

Series Descriptions

Series 1. House Files. 1 cu. ft. (2 boxes)

Photographs and research information for individual octagon houses in New York State, comprising 195 file envelopes. An additional 25 file envelopes contain material for non-octagon structures in New York State.

Series 2. Photographic Prints and Negatives. 2.5 cu. ft. (5 boxes)

This series contains over 2000 photographic prints and negatives. The photographic material is separated into three subseries, 1) Loose Photographs, 2) Framed Prints, and 3) Prints and Negatives. All of the images in this series are of individual buildings. The items in Loose Photographs are from sites in the United States primarily. Sizes range up to 8 x 10 inches. Framed Prints contains 5 x 7 inch prints in mat board frames, arranged alphabetically by town location. All images in Framed Prints are from locations in New York State. Prints and Negatives comprises individual file envelopes containing images of locations primarily in the United States. These are divided by state and alphabetical by town within the state.

Series 2, Subseries 1. Loose Photographs. 0.5 cu. ft. (1 box)

Series 2, Subseries 2. Framed Prints. 1.0 cu. ft. (2 boxes)

Series 2, Subseries 3. Prints and Negatives. 1.0 cu. ft. (2 boxes)

Series 3. Printed Materials. 1.5 cu. ft. (3 boxes)

Correspondence, research notes, articles, newspaper clippings, file cards, survey sheets, and published material.

Series 4. Photograph Albums - Oversize (OVS). 1.0 cu. ft. (1 box)

Two albums containing images of octagonal and polygonal structures, mostly octagon houses of New York State. The albums include some printed material, such as newspaper clippings, postcards, structural diagrams, research paper and notes, octagon house lists, and New York State maps.

Historical Note

The octagon building can be found in use throughout history. One of the earliest known octagonal structures is the Tower of Winds, 100-50 B.C., in Athens, Greece. At 42 feet high by 26 feet in diameter, this marble octagonal building, still standing, was constructed for the purpose of measuring time.

The main period of construction of octagon houses in the United States occurred in the 1850s and 1860s. These buildings could be found in more than twenty states and Canada with the largest numbers being in New York State.

The Dutch settlers that came to New York were familiar with this type of structure, having seen many octagonal churches in use in Holland. Subsequently, several small octagonal churches were built in New York and New Jersey in the late 17th and early 18th centuries.

In 1854, Orson Fowler published A Home for All, expounding upon the virtues of the octagon house with regard to the ease and expense of construction, as well as the resultant safety in utilization of specific building materials and increased efficiency of usable space and temperature regulation. This, coupled with changing styles of home construction in form and technique, led to a surge of production of eight-sided homes in the United States at that time.


Copyright Restrictions

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material.

Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specified conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research. If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of fair use, that user may be liable for copyright infringement.

This institution reserves the right to refuse to accept a copying order if, in its judgment, fulfillment of the order would involve violation of copyright law.

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