One sunny afternoon we took a drive out to the Octagon House in Watertown, Wisconsin. I remembered visiting the Octagon House on a grade school field trip and was excited to share it with my boys.
It was a short and pretty 30 minute drive from Brookfield.
The Octagon House is open every day except Tuesdays in the summer. They’re open from 12-3 and give tours on the hour.
We arrived just in time for a tour.
The layout of the four story home is incredibly efficient. Every bit of space is used - which created a multitude of closet spaces. Closets were rare in the 1800’s so it is assumed the women of the home highly enjoyed having spaces to hang their hoop dresses.
The Octagon House was built in 1854. It took 14 years to complete. John Richards (the richest man in Watertown at the time) built the home for his wife who was a New England aristocrat. It was one of the first homes to have a central heat and air system, a fresh water plumbing system, a dumb waiter and more. The builder was quite innovative and ahead of his time!
Sixty five percent of the home’s furnishings are original. It is a treat to see the craftsmanship of yesteryear. Everything was so carefully constructed. Hand made floor tiles, hand made stairway railings, a hand carved marble fireplace and more!
The pièce de résistance is this stunning 5 story spiral staircase that sits in the center of the home. The railings are hand carved cherry made from trees on the property. They feel so smooth in your hand! It truly is a treat to climb these stairs that are still rock steady like they were just made yesterday!
The fourth floor includes a small museum display. There are old newspapers, war uniforms, and neat little stories that intrigued the boys.
I would say that this is a fantastic outing to do with kids - as long as they are old enough to know that they cannot touch anything!
My boys really enjoyed the tour. Little Arlo (7 years old) raised his hand and asked many questions along the tour. They were especially fascinated by the old fashioned plumbing, the chamber pots, the wood stoves, hay mattresses and just how “things used to work” in the olden days.
There is so much more to tell about the Octagon House but I will leave that to the tour guides! You can learn more about the house at www.octagonhousemuseum.org
After our tour we visited the charming town of Watertown. Did you know it was nearly the Wisconsin State Capital? It lost by one vote!
We highly recommend stopping in to Mullen’s Dairy Barn for a cone, shake or lunch. Delicious!
This was a great way to spend an afternoon!