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Address: 1799 New York Ave NW, Washington DC, DC 20006-5207
Phone Number:
+1 202-626-7439
See all hours
Thu - Sat 13:00 - 16:00
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Fee: Yes

The Octagon Museum was built between 1798-1800 by John Tayloe at the...

The Octagon Museum was built between 1798-1800 by John Tayloe at the suggestion of George Washington. In 1814, the house was offered to President Madison as temporary quarters after the White House was burned in the War of 1812. The Treaty of Ghent was signed there, thus ending the war.

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The temporary White House

Octagon houses were a unique house style briefly popular in the 1850s. They are characterized by an octagonal (eight-sided) plan and often feature a flat roof and a veranda all... read more

Reviewed 3 days ago
Taylor B
Chicago, Illinois
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21 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

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Showing 17: English reviews
Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
2,830 reviews
1,127 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1,845 helpful votes
Reviewed 3 days ago NEW

Octagon houses were a unique house style briefly popular in the 1850s. They are characterized by an octagonal (eight-sided) plan and often feature a flat roof and a veranda all around. The most famous Octagon House of all was built between 1798 and 1800 in Washington, D.C. Designed by Dr. William Thornton, the architect of the U.S. Capitol, it is... More 

Thank Taylor B
Level Contributor
136 reviews
25 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 68 helpful votes
Reviewed 13 February 2017

This is a delightful little jewel in the heart of the City. It was built in the early 1800's as a winter Residence for the Tayloe family. The house itself and is a wonderful example of the architecture of the period. We booked a tour in advance and our guide was so enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the period. During the... More 

Thank Momalita
Arlington, Virginia
Level Contributor
488 reviews
195 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 237 helpful votes
Reviewed 28 August 2016

The Octagon House is famous for being the White House temporarily for James Madison when the original was burned, and that alone makes it worth visiting. It also houses the desk where the Treaty of Ghent ending the War of 1812 was signed. I like that tours of the House are self-guided and they really give you the run of... More 

Thank Brendan S
Saint Michael, Minnesota
Level Contributor
24 reviews
15 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed 1 July 2016

I visited the Octagon House because of my interest in both architecture and history. As an example of early 18th Century architecture, it's a rare example of upper class urban living. During my visit they were in the midst of some restoration, which was interesting to experience as well. Our docent was very knowledgeable about the house and its history.... More 

Thank Rent-a-dad
New York
Level Contributor
139 reviews
64 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 95 helpful votes
Reviewed 26 June 2016

The Octagon Museum is one of the best examples I have seen of an historic home preserved for the sake of education. If you are deeply interested in architecture and the decorative arts, preservation of the built environment, nineteenth century America, and African American history, I highly recommend the Octagon Museum. The rooms are sparsely furnished and there is quite... More 

1 Thank Traveller2010NYC
Fort Worth, TX
Level Contributor
90 reviews
47 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 100 helpful votes
Reviewed 16 June 2016

While others are looking at the White House (a place most people have no chance of touring), you can walk a few blocks to a very historic home which is over 200 years old. The Octagon does not charge admission, and you can tour three levels of the house. The architecture is rather unique starting with the curved front entrance... More 

Thank sswagner
Mannheim, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
Level Contributor
133 reviews
36 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 55 helpful votes
Reviewed 2 June 2016

The house is a self-guided tour and there isn't that much furniture in it, however you learn a lot about historic preservation and what they have found by peeling back layers of paint etc. As a presidential buff, I wanted to see this as Pres. Madison lived here for about a year after the White House burned in 1814.

Thank EM71
Alexandria, Virginia
Level Contributor
6 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 22 May 2016

The Octagon House is open just a few hours daily Thursday to Saturday, but well worth planning a stop to visit the beautiful home. House touring is self guided, but a map and printed information in each room help reveal the story of the home and some of the important events that are part of its history. Exhibits also include... More 

1 Thank Pat N
Level Contributor
91 reviews
67 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 55 helpful votes
Reviewed 26 October 2015

Although it is called the Octagon House its configuration is more complex than that. A self guided tour takes you through the house explaining each room as you go. It isn't crowded so you have time to explore on your own. You can learn about the war in 1812 and the fact that the treaty ending the war was finally... More 

Thank odysseusChicago
Gaithersburg, Maryland
Level Contributor
201 reviews
78 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 51 helpful votes
Reviewed 17 July 2015

The Octagon House is run by an architecture institute, whose modern building is behind the historic house that was built by a Virginia plantation owner when the city was just being established as our nation's capital. That it has survived pretty much intact with original floors, moldings, staircases, windows, brickwork, etc., is amazing, given the multiple occupants and uses, plus... More 

Thank Sally L

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