This file part of website


Octogon House


Fort Atkinson



Abstract of article dated 1946 and thought to be from Jefferson newspaper   [unknown if house still stands]


If you're one of those individuals with a mania for "cutting corners" you'll love the Art Gafke home on route 3, just west of the Fort.


The Gafke home, one of the dozen or so octagon houses in the state, has twice as many corners as the orthodox rectangular homes.


Incidentally, the Gafke home is celebrating its 97th birthday, although the Gafkes have occupied it for only 17 years.  The Gafke octagon was begun in 1846 [*] and was two years in the building.  Originally faced with native stone, it has since been covered with stucco.  The Gafkes prefer the stone facing, but they don’t dare remove the stucco for fear the stone may not be in  good condition.


[* Therefore completed in 1848; Watertown’s famed Octagon House was finished in 1854]


It grew out of a "fad" established by the famed six-sided house at Milton Junction, later converted into a hotel.  The Gafke home differs from most of the octagons in that it follows established architectural principles.  It's low, and it has no "gingerbread" on the top cornice.


Mrs. Gafke is very fond indeed of the house, particularly the arrangement made possible by its unique shape.  "Most farm homes are entered through the kitchen," she said, "since design requires that the living room be located on the highway side.  But with our octagon we have two living rooms."


Another advantage of the house is its economical use of space.  Downstairs, for instance, there are the two living rooms, with the cut-out corner utilized as a reception hall.  These rooms are on the south and west.  On the north is the dining room.  The kitchen and bath rooms, the only rooms which reveal the peculiar shape of the house, are on the east.


The stairway is located almost in the exact center of the house.  There are four pleasant bedrooms of almost conventional shape with an ample closet for each squaring them up.


"When we first moved here, people flocked to the farm in droves, asking permission to view the interior of the house," Mrs. Gafke laughed.  "All of them were amazed to discover that the rooms look no different than the rooms in the average house."


There are certain differences, however, but they are all in favor of the octagon.  For instance, from the south living room, you can see into the kitchen and pantry, the west living room and the reception hall.  That's because the rooms are "staggered" to take advantage of every inch of space.  It's a pleasing and "different" effect, and the central stairway is a time saver.


"I can't understand why more people don't build octagons," said Mr. Gafke.  It's a simple type of construction, and a very effective one.  If we build another house, I'm sure it would be an octagon."


There is one more important advantage.  The octagon, with more sides, provides greater opportunity for windows and light.  Even the closets are adequately lighted from the outside.


There isn't much point in reciting the history of the Art Gafke family.  They have been so prominent in the agricultural councils of the county that their history is familiar to most everyone in the county . . .