The Historic Octagon House – 1860
(from Spring, 2023 Edition of Macomb Now Magazine)
By Denis LeDuc
The large windows on all eight sides of the 1860 Octagon House are open to the warm spring breeze, filling the rooms with air and the twilight of evening. Chores are done and lessons completed. Lively music from the piano rolls out over the porch and newly planted garden. Peals of laughter and delight are heard from the eight children of Loren and Lucina Andrus — builders and owners of this unique and distinctively American home. Their children are enjoying the diversions and amusements of 19th century life in Macomb County. They have rolled up the parlor rug to dance, and the younger children play games, pull taffy, and sing nursery rhymes.
Today, the laughter and delight of children continues to enrich this beautiful restored architectural masterpiece located on Van Dyke just north of 26 Mile Road. in Washington Township. Interactive educational events, arts and crafts, and exquisite teas, including the Fairy Tea held at Midsummer’s Eve, are presented by the Friends of the Octagon House.
This local organization of volunteers came together in 1984 to save this historically important home from the wrecking ball and to successfully rescue it from years of damage and decay. The Octagon House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
One of the most popular interactive historical events held here is the Underground Railroad presentation. Long-standing local oral history and tradition maintains that the Octagon House was a shelter for runaway slaves fleeing to Canada and freedom. A Civil War era quilt, secretly mapping in its pattern the way north, is one of the home’s prized possessions on display.
Notice the Corinthian columns, elegantly scrolled brackets supporting the porch, the 55-step cantilevered spiral staircase to the third floor octagon cupola, and the gardens restored and maintained by local graduates of the Michigan State University Master Gardener Program. Beneath a stunning interior archway is a very popular place for young couples to exchange their wedding vows.
Friends of the Octagon House encourage guests to visit and perhaps become much needed volunteers at octagonhouse.org. Reprinted from Spring 2013.