For those who fancy unusual architecture and houses, the McElroy Octagon House located in Gough Street is not to disappoint. The McElroy Octagon House was one of the five octagon abodes that was built in the city and is one of the two octagon houses remaining in San Francisco, the other one being the Feusier Octagon House. Today, it is considered as a rare find and an architectural jewel in the cityscape.
Built by William C. McElroy in 1861, the McElroy Octagon House is an eight-sided dwelling crowned with a quirky cupola. People believe that William McElroy and the others who lived in the same period constructed their houses in this manner because it was considered lucky and could give the residents a fuller and healthier existence. The same belief still resonates today especially in the Chinese Feng Shui.
The McElroy Octagon House served as a private address for many years but after it was vacated, it remained unoccupied and to some extent was neglected. Luckily, the California chapter of the National Society of Colonial Dames of America acquired the property and started the rehabilitation of the structure. The organization which holds its head office in Washington D.C. is dedicated to put forward the national heritage of the United States via educational projects, patriotic service and historic preservation. They also run numerous museums in different parts of the country.
The current location of the McElroy Octagon House in Gough Street is actually the second one as it originally occupied the lot across the street. The Colonial Dames attempted to bring back the house to its former condition through a renovation but many critics say that the rehabilitated version is not faithful to what it was before. Nevertheless, the McElroy Octagon House holds a significant position in San Francisco?s architecture history. As testament to this, it was officially appointed as a Historical Landmark by the local city government as Landmark 17. It was include to the National Register of Historic Place on February 23, 1972.
Visitors can only visit the McElroy Octagon House on a prescribed schedule: every second Sunday of the month as well as the second and fourth Thursdays monthly excluding January. Guests can do a self-guided tour of the house-museum where they can see different kinds of decorative masterpieces hailing from the Federal and Colonial eras, plus significant documents from early American as well as Colonial History. One of the highlights here is a document penned by 54 out of the 56 signatories of the Declaration of Independence.
Touring the McElroy Octagon House is free of charge but visitors are encouraged to donate for the maintenance of the historical structure. Schools or companies can schedule for group tours bust must make a reservation first to be accommodated.