Octagon House Tours
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One of the first homes ever built in the nation’s capital, the historic Federal-style Octagon House was designed in 1799 by William Thornton for wealthy Virginia landowner Colonel John Tayloe III. During the War of 1812, Tayloe volunteered the house as a French embassy in order to save it from destruction, and two years later, when the White House was set ablaze by the British, he offered it to President James Madison as a temporary executive mansion. Madison used a second-floor room of the house as his study, and it was here that he signed the 1815 peace treaty that ended the war with England.
Madison and his wife, Dolley, moved back into the White House in 1817, and Tayloe and his family lived on at Octagon House until 1855. Later used as a Union hospital in the Civil War, the building had fallen into decay by 1899, when the American Institute of Architects purchased it for use as its headquarters. Established as a museum in 1970 and featuring historical photos of, memorabilia from, and plans for famous American buildings, it’s now open just two days a week for self-guided tours.
There is limited, two-hour street parking around the Octagon, but the museum is near two Metrorail stations: Foggy Bottom-GWU (serving the Orange and Blue Lines) and Farragut North (serving the Red Line).
Address: 1799 New York Ave NW, Washington DC 20006, USA
Hours: Self-guided tours Thurs–Fri 1–4pm
1 Tours and Activities to Experience Octagon House
Ghost & Vampire Tours
Washington DC is one of America's most famously historic cities, but aside from the political happenings around town and the legendary memorials, there's a haunted side to Washington DC that too often goes untold. During this two hour Washington DC haunted house walking tour, join a local guide and actor for a journey around the nation's capital that explores the paranormal. Hear the tales of death and tragedy that circle Lafayette Square, and finish the tour in front of the White House with a spooky, scary, and haunted sense of the capital's turbulent past.
Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
What are Octagon House hours of operation?
Octagon House hours of operation: Self-guided tours Thurs–Fri 1–4pm. Buy tickets in advance on Viator. If you book with Viator, you can cancel at least 24 hours before the start date of your tour for a full refund.
What's the best way to experience Octagon House?
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