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Quaint little historic home...

Visited the Octagon House with my family and some friends. It was a nice little museum, with... read more

Reviewed 5 weeks ago
Kurt_Mich75
,
Jacksonville, North Carolina
A must see for those with an interest in American history

Frankly even with all the wonderful and historic sites there are in DC, I am surprised that this... read more

Reviewed 14 December 2017
chr_8
,
lb,il
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All reviews federal style james and dolly madison interesting architecture self guided tour white house national mall treaty preservation war president history exhibits museum
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Reviewed 14 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 War of 1812, James and Dolly Madison spent about eight months at this residence in 1814 when the White house was burned by the British,
If you are planning a trip to DC and love history, put The Octagon house on your list. Best $5.00 I have spent.

Date of experience: February 2017
1  Thank Momalita
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 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 the place, spending as much or as little time in each room as you want, reading as much or as little about each room on the information sheets provided for each room, and generally being undisturbed in the tour (there were only a handful of other visitors on the Saturday afternoon I visited).

The House itself is typical of other historic rooms of the period. The most impressive parts are the "Octagon" entry-room that gives the House its name and the soaring multi-level main staircase.

The visiting hours are pretty limited, but the whole house can be toured in less than an hour, and it's worth doing.

Date of experience: August 2016
1  Thank Brend482
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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
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
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