The Octagon House
in Washington, MI ~ circa 1860
This book is not meant to be a romantic depiction of life in the Octagon House over the 140 + years of its existence. Nor is it meant to be the history of the house in story form. What it is and is meant to be is a chronology of the events that make up the life of the structure. The Washington Township Octagon House passed through many hands over the years and was only rarely accredited as a property of historic significance. Consequently, the history of the house was never documented consistently and thoroughly throughout its life. Nevertheless, this chronology is constructed as accurately as possible from excerpts taken from newspapers, event chronicles, historical and genealogical documents, personal interviews, and word of mouth stories passed down as oral history.
Because the Octagon House has been surrounded over the years by unfounded rumors, inaccurate reporting, unconfirmed stories, and undocumented histories; I have chosen this chronological form of relating the history of the Octagon. The documentation contained in this book may be more academic than most people want in their reading material but it is possibly the most accurate way to separate rumor from fact, clear up some myths, weed out truth from fiction, and still maintain a smooth transition from the page to the reader.
As the reader continues along it will be clear that I attempted to be as diplomatic as possible in the treatment of this long involved history. I tried to indicate discrepancies with explanations or alternative facts. I endeavored to separate truth from rumor and most often have given examples of both accompanied by a bit of insight as to the origin of each. I included explanations of many of the stories that have surrounded the Octagon House over the years and some theories as to why they are or are not thought to be true. I hope that this is as accurate a chronology as possible which, while being enjoyable to read, will also teach some local history, legend and lore.
President, 1993 – 1997
Friends of the Octagon House