Architects Foundation Board statement on The Octagon
The staff and board of the Architects Foundation, owner of The Octagon, want to share the AIA Board statement on systemic racial injustice. As the philanthropic partner of AIA, we agree that systemic racial injustice in any form, whet… Read More
Main Entrance -- The Octagon was constructed between 1799 and 1801. The Tayloe family of Virginia moved into the house in the fall of 1802. The Octagon was originally constructed to be a winter residence for the Tayloe family, but they lived in the house year-around from 1818-1855. The Octagon proper… Read More
Treaty Room -- Historically speaking, the Treaty Room is perhaps the most important room in the house. The United States declared war on Britain in June 1812, thus entering into what’s today known as the War of 1812. After the White House was burned by British forces on August 24, 1814, President … Read More
Treaty Room -- Aside from its historical significance, the table that sits in the center of the Treaty Room is a neat piece of furniture. It is called a drum or rent table. Its drawers are labeled with ‘receipts’, ‘bills due’, and letters of the alphabet – it was an early filing cabinet with wedge… Read More
Treaty Room -- Above the fireplace is a portrait of John Tayloe IV, the first born of John III and Ann. He was a midshipman on the USS Constitution, nicknamed Old Ironsides, and was wounded in its historic battle with the British frigate Guerriere during the War of 1812. John IV died in 1824 of his… Read More
The double doors that separate the Entry Hall from the rest of the house were added by President Madison in 1814. Originally the Entry Hall moved directly into the Stair Hall through a decorative arch. The doors were added as an extra layer of security for the president's home.
Stair Hall -- The slow, graceful ascent past the large Venetian window at the landing flanked by urns set in niches was intentionally designed to impress the visitor on the way to John Tayloe’s library. Standing underneath the hanging chandelier, look up to the top of the staircase. There are thre… Read More
This painting was created by artist-in-residence Peter Waddell in the late-90s. It is a stylized interpretation of the land surrounding the Octagon at its construction. In 1800 the city of Washington was relatively rural yet, and the Octagon was one of the only private houses in the area.
Staircase Landing -- The Octagon’s curving staircase serves equally well both aesthetic and practical purposes. The staircase acts like a chimney, or flue, not only to ventilate the entire house, but also to distribute warm and cool air throughout the house. Imagine it’s a warm summer day and that… Read More