Some call the Octagon House the "round house," others call it the "inkwell." Stories vary as to why the builder, Dr. William T. Sparrow, decided to build a house with eight sides. The most poplar story was that he had previously lost a house of conventional shape to a hurricane, and he felt that a house with eight sides would better resist the wind. In recent years, a group of concerned citizens formed the Octagon House Restoration, Inc., to preserve this unusual house.When historians delved into the history of the house, it was learned that there was probably another reason for building a house with eight sides. During the 1850s, a fad developed in the United States for building of eight-sided dwellings. This fad accelerated and was believed influenced by a book entitled "The Octagon House - A Home For All." The book was written by phrenologist, Orson S. Fowler, of New York. The book circulated throughout this country, France and England, and China. One chapter in the book details the building of an octagon house that conforms to the dimensions of this house which was built in 1857. When the cypress shingles which had been on the house since the 1890s were removed, it revealed that on the sides where there were no windows, there were markings of false windows. This was a distinguishing characteristic of a Fowler design. The preservation group then decided to retain the false windows and restore the outside walls to stucco and plaster the inside walls as they had been originally. The original wood floors have been kept where possible. Four different fireplaces are served by a central chimney. There are six rooms with a hall both up and down stairs. This unique building is one of only two of its kind in North Carolina that were built in the 19th century. Dr. William T. Sparrow was born in Craven County in 1825. He married Elizabeth Jennett of Hyde County sometime before 1847. The property on which the house stands was originally owned by the Jennett family. One of Dr. Sparrow's present-day descendants has written: "he has been called eccentric, as someone who loved phrenology and octagonal houses could be called, but he certainly was not an ordinary nineteenth century man." This house is one of 10 historic sites on the Hyde County Talking Houses and Historic Places driving tour. These sites are equipped with am radio transmitters which you can tune to from the convenience of your car to learn the history of the area. The Octagon House is also on the Historic Lake Landing Landmarks riding tour. Currently, the site is occupied by the Partnership for the Sounds and is open 2 days per week. Call for hours.
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