Irvington Historical Society
131 Main Street, PO BOX 23, Irvington, NY 10533 Phone: (914) 591-1020
Following in the decade-ish long trend started by Orson Fowler, author of A Home for All, the octagonal houses of the 1850s espoused "practicality, efficiency, and simplicity." Octagonal buildings offer the advantage of enclosing more space than a square home of similar cumulative wall length. Practical advantages aside, the architectural details of the Armour-Stiner House make this house truly one of the most unique American homes and perhaps the best surviving example of an "octagon house.".. (Ironically, Fowler's own octagonal residence in Beacon, NY, which began the eight-sided craze, was demolished in 1897 after nearly two decades of abandonment.)
Built in 1860 by financier Paul J. Armour, a follower of phrenology (one of Orson Fowler's fields of expertise), the original octagonal house probably was topped by a simple mansard roof. In 1872, tea importer Joseph Stiner added the famous Renaissance-style domed roof and cupola, Gothic molding and windows, rococo brackets flanking the dormer windows, and Stick-style details on the veranda. John Zukowsky, author of Hudson River Villas, compared the sensation of being in the cupola to that of being in a Jules Verne spaceship.
Famed Hudson Valley writer Carl Carmer lived here from 1946 until his death in 1976. The Octagon House then came into possession of the National Trust for Historic Preservation to stave off possible demolition. However, much work needed to be done and the house was quickly re-sold to Joseph Pell Lombardi, a Preservation Architect who has conserved the house, interiors, grounds and outbuildings
The buildings, structures, objects and sites documented in the National Register and found on this site have been identified as significant cultural resources in the State of New York. They represent both individual history as well as the collective history of the people of our state. This property is privately owned and is not accessible to the public. Therefore we ask that you please respect the owner's right to privacy. (Adapted from New York State Historic Preservation Office State and National Registers of Historic Places Web Page)