ROADSIDE MICHIGAN: The 1858 Loren Andrus Octagon House
Here's another Michigan octagon house for you to check out sometime.
It's the Loren Andrus house in the Michigan town of Washington in Macomb County. Andrus and his parents came to Michigan in 1828. At age 21, he was a surveyor of the Clinton and Kalamazoo Canal. He also was a railroad employee traveling from Port Huron to Flint.
With the help of brother-in-law David Stewart, they built this Octagon House in 1858. It was completed in 1860 and called “The House of Eights”.
Loren, his wife, and eight children entertained family, friends, and neighbors, playing piano and singing, games, dance parties, and old-time taffy pulling. After his wife passed away in 1894, Loren sold his Octagon House and moved to Detroit.
For many years afterward, and various owners, the house was used as an education center for Wayne State University, a farm, living history farm, restaurant, and finally an historic home museum.
The Loren Andrus Octagon House is listed on the National Register of Historical Places and recognized as a State of Michigan Historic site. The Historical Marker reads:
SIDE ONE: “Loren Andrus (1816 ~ 1901) came to Macomb County from New York State in 1828. He served as an assistant engineer on the survey of the Clinton-Kalamazoo Canal, but gained prominence in agricultural work. In particular he focused on the breeding of fine wool sheep, and he helped organize both the Macomb County and Michigan Agricultural Societies. Loren and his wife Lucina, hired his brother-in-law David G. Stewart, a Macomb County builder and architect, to construct this house. Stewart built an Octagon, popularized by phrenologist Orson Fowler, who touted the Octagon as a spacious building form that offered healthier air circulation and an abundance of light. Andrus himself made the bricks with local clay. The house has an elaborate central spiral stairway that leads to the cupola”.
SIDE TWO: “Loren Andrus built Michigan's most elaborate remaining example of the Octagon house form in 1860. In 1945 Detroit businessman Albert Schmidt donated money to the Detroit Board of Education for the purchase of a farm which gave "city boys" practical experience in their agriculture studies at Wayne (State) University. By 1952 the 330-acre self-supporting farm had 90 Holstein cattle and 1,200 hens. Eggs were sold in green and gold cartons (Wayne's colors) with the slogan "Educated Eggs from the Wayne State University Farm." Despite the efforts of subsequent owners, the house eventually deteriorated and was ravaged by vandals and wildlife. In 1986 a non-profit organized to save the house. The Friends of the Octagon continued to restore and maintain the property into the twenty-first century”.
Go visit...located at 57500 Van Dyke Avenue, Washington, Michigan.
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