The Octagon is a museum, art gallery, and showcase for American architecture, focusing on the importance of design, conservation and restoration of historic buildings.
Completed in 1801 for the Tayloe family, and designed by William Thornton, the original architect of the U.S. Capitol, the Octagon was one of the first great homes built in the new nation’s capital. A few short blocks from the White House, the house is one of the most significant and elegant buildings to remain standing from the early federal city.
When the British burned the White House in 1814, President and Mrs. Madison moved into one of the most beautiful homes in Washington, D.C. It was in the upstairs library that President Madison signed the Treaty of Ghent on February 17, 1815, establishing peace with Great Britain and ending the War of 1812.
In 1899, the American Institute of Architects chose the severely deteriorated building as its new national headquarters, initiating a series of state-of-the-art restorations, the most recent made possible by a Save America’s Treasure’s grant.
Today, two centuries later, the Octagon continues to serve as a reminder of the great beauty of early American design and the lasting value of architectural excellence.
The Octagon is open for self-guided tours Thursdays and Fridays from 1:00 - 4:00 pm. The museum may be closed for private events so please call or email ahead if you are planning a visit.
The following audio tours are also available and may be downloaded to any mp3 player:
Tour 1 for information on the Sustainable Octagon,
Tour 2 for information on the Historic Octagon,
Tour 3 for the Restored Octagon, and
Tour 4 for the Upstairs/Downstairs of the Octagon.
1735 New York Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20006
"I looked at the new brochures for the Deanwood and Civil Rights Heritage Trails. I am always astonished and amazed at the work you do and the quality of it. Beautiful."