HYDE COUNTY — Visitors are welcome to swing by the 1857 historic Octagon House Saturday to see the first two phases of restoration and get a glimpse of the work ahead.
The unique structure at 30868 U.S. 64 in Engelhard will be open from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., be followed by The Octagon House Restoration Inc. annual membership meeting.
The 19th century eight-sided house was built by Dr. William T. Sparrow of Craven County. He married Elizabeth Jennette, who inherited the land where the Octagon House stands from her father, Robert Jennette.
Sparrow built the eight-sided house because of Orson Fowler, a phrenologist, and his 1848 book, “The Octagon House: A Home for All, or A New, Cheap, Convenient and Superior Mode of Building.” There are six rooms in the house that has a central chimney and four fireplaces and no posts, except for windows and doors.
The Sparrows and their three children lived there for several years before Elizabeth’s death in 1860. Sparrow, who served in the Confederate Army was discharged due to poor health and returned to the Octagon House, where he died in 1862, according to the Octagon House Facebook page.
The Sparrow children sold their interest in the house to John A. Northan by 1879, who lived there until his death in 1904. Ola Gibbs, who later married Charles Payne, inherited the house. The house had residents until the late 1950s.
A few decades later, a restoration effort for the Octagon House was launched. In 1976, the nonprofit The Octagon House Restoration Inc. was formed and the house and lot were purchased. Since then, the restoration and preservation of the house in the Lake Landing Historic District has continued.
The Octagon House does not maintain regular operating hours, a website or phone number, though special events such as the open house are held throughout the year. The details are posted on the organization’s Facebook.
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