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“Unique architecture”
Review of Octagon Museum

Octagon Museum
Ranked #147 of 439 things to do in Washington DC
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Attraction details
Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: 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.
Reviewed 2 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. The second story circular-shaped room was where James Madison signed the Treaty of Ghent ending the War of 1812 since he and Dolly had to vacate the White House when the British set it to flames in the same war, and lived here during the reconstruction. There's still work to be done on this house, but get off the busy DC streets and take a look at an interesting piece of architectural and US history.

Date of experience: June 2016
1  Thank Rent-a-dad
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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"federal style"
in 3 reviews
"james and dolly madison"
in 2 reviews
"interesting architecture"
in 2 reviews
"self guided tour"
in 3 reviews
"white house"
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"national mall"
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11 - 15 of 29 reviews

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 a bit of information in the form of hand-outs and strategically placed cards that allow visitors to conduct their own self-guided tours. The attention given to the lives of the enslaved persons who lived and worked in the Octagon House and how their labor contributed to the lifestyles of the Tayloe family is particularly commendable.

This is not a museum to visit if your tastes run more toward Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous: Nineteenth Century Edition or if you and your children want to be entertained. The Octagon Museum cannot be called "fun" by any stretch of the imagination. It is a place for reflection on our collective past and what we can see if we stop to really look at our environment and interpret it properly.

Date of experience: May 2016
2  Thank Traveller2010NYC
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 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 door. Furnishings are limited, but you can see the original desk where the Treaty of Ghent ending the War of 1812 was signed by President Madison in this house. It will not take too long to tour it, but is is not crowded and provides a good break and a history lesson.

Date of experience: June 2016
Thank sswagner
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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.

Date of experience: May 2016
Thank Erik M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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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 information about AIA awards.

Date of experience: May 2016
1  Thank Pat N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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