Erected in 1858 by a local brickyard owner, Farmington’s Octagon House is one of approximately 19 houses in Maine and 2,000 in the United States built in the Octagon style. The home was based on designs by Orson Squire Fowler, a leader in the pseudoscience of phrenology during the 1800s. Fowler believed a home’s round form, designed with rooms that surround a central staircase, allowed for increased air circulation and natural light and promoted socialization. In this version, a glass cupola mirrors the home’s shape and floods the stairwell with light. Occupied until 2012 by the family of Wilbert G. Mallett, former principal of what is now the University of Maine at Farmington, the home is currently owned by the Farmington Historical Society and open for special events.
Portland-based writer Julie Senk holds degrees in history and historic preservation and provides property surveys and architectural analyses to homeowners and businesses. To learn more about her work, visit northernvernacular.com.