Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Fraser Octagon House is a one-and-a-half storey wood frame structure built to a near octagonal plan form. The house was built around 1857 and is located on the corner of Church Street and Maple Avenue in Tatamagouche, NS. There is a small rectangular shed also located on the property. The buildings and property are includes in the provincial designation.
The Fraser Octagon House is valued for its unique eight-sided style in a domestic residence in Nova Scotia. Its construction date of around 1857 makes it a rare early example of this type of building in the colonies that would become Canada.
This house was probably built by James Talbot in 1857. In that year he purchased, for sixteen pounds, a quarter acre of property on the road to New Annan where the Octagon House now stands. On the same day as this purchase, he mortgaged the property for 190 pounds. On his death in 1864, his son-in-law David Fraser paid off the remainder of the mortgage, succeeding to the ownership of the property and the family business. The inference is that the 190 pound mortgage paid for the construction of the Octagon House.
The Octagon House is a one-and-a-half storey, wood frame structure built in the near octagonal plan form. However, two of the walls are slighty longer than the others. Despite the plain detailing, the Octagon House is an important piece of architecture and it is unique in Nova Scotia. Octagonal plan forms are based on the work of Orson S. Fowler. A full time phrenologist, Fowler had an amateur interest in architecture, and in his book, A Home for All, made a case for both the practical and spiritual advantges of octagonal buildings. Of the few thousand such buildings erected in Canada and the United States in the nineteenth century, it is estimated that only a few hundred survive. In Nova Scotia, the two other known examples are barns built around 1888 and 1897, which is much later than the earlier 1857 date for this house.
The Octagon House sits on the original quarter acre purchased by James Talbot. It is a corner lot facing the road leading out of Tatamagouche to New Annan. Except for the addition, there has been little exterior alteration and the building has been extremely well cared for.
Source: Provincial Heritage Program property files, no. 171, 1747 Summer Street, Halifax, NS.
Character-defining elements of the Fraser Octagon House include:
- one and a half storey wood frame structure built to near octagonal plan form (two walls are slightly longer);
- one-storey addition added on the driveway side of the house some time after the original construction but before the end of the nineteenth century;
- Greek Revival pilasters and entablature at the front entrance;
- wood frame shed;
- prominent location on a corner lot.
Province of Nova Scotia
Heritage Property Act
Provincially Registered Property
Theme - Category and Type
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Architecture and Design
Function - Category and Type
- Single Dwelling
Architect / Designer
Orson S. Fowler
Location of Supporting Documentation
Provincial Heritage Program property files, no. 171, 1747 Summer Street, Halifax, NS.
Cross-Reference to Collection