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The Octagon House
The Octagon House was built in 1854 by pioneer settler John Richards. He arrived in what is now Watertown in the spring of 1837. After buying a small farmstead located about where Settler's Bay restaurant now sits, he went back to Massachusetts and proposed to his sweetheart, Eliza Forbes. She was the daughter of a prominent innkeeper.
Richards promised if she agreed to accompany him back to the wilds of Wisconsin territory, he would build her the finest and most modem house he could. It took him 12 years to make good on that promise, but when the home was finished, it was a marvel craftsmanship. The home still elicits exclamations of amazement to visitors.
Built into the home, which was designed and overseen by Richards, were rudimentary forms of running water, central air conditioning and central heating. For 1854, these were unheard of luxuries. Perhaps the most noteworthy feature of the home is the central cantilevered staircase which rises majestically 40 feet through the center of the home, ending at the top with a cupola. The staircase shows no sign of wear, despite 150 years of continuous use.
The home has five stories and visitors are treated to fully guided tours, hourly. Visitors to the Octagon House can also tour the First Kindergarten in America and the Plank Road Barn, both of which are located on the museum grounds.
Pictures of the Octagon House
Pictures from Octagon House tour: