Octagon House Restoration celebrates big 4-0

Published 5:42 pm Wednesday, May 18, 2016

HYDE COUNTY — Octagon House Restoration Inc. is celebrating 40 years, and to commemorate the occasion, they are opening the historic, eight-sided structure for visitors on Saturday.

Clare Baum, who serves on the nonprofit’s Board of Directors, said the official date of incorporation is in October, but the board wanted to start celebrating earlier in the year.

The event will also feature a photo exhibit, “40 Views for the 40th,” made by Clare Baum, which features snapshots of the Octagon House over the decades.

Dr. William T. Sparrow built the house around 1857, and while the exact reason is unknown, many think Sparrow wanted the structure to stand up in hurricane winds. Octagon House also features an eight-sided chimney in the center, with four fireplaces.

“It is a kind of an oddity, as it were,” Clare Baum said. “It’s one of two antebellum, octagon-shaped houses (still standing) in North Carolina.”

She said the board is always thinking of ideas to promote Octagon House, hosting open houses and holiday events, talking with elementary school students and planting a Mattamuskeet apple orchard on the property — all to encourage interest in the historic location.

“Just trying to, you know, have some sort of drawing card, some point of interest,” Clare Baum said.

Along with promoting the structure, the organization is also in charge of keeping the house in good shape.

Walter Baum, who is chairman of the Board of Directors, said the last full restoration project was completed in the early 1980s, and the years spent in the elements are now starting to show. He said the next project involves replacing the wooden shingles on the roof.

“The years begin to slip by,” he said.

Walter Baum said he has also worked with the State Preservation Society in Greenville to update reports on the house and obtain pointers on what needs to be repaired.

The couple’s main goal is to share their passion for Octagon House’s history and pass that curiosity on to the next generation. For many of the organization’s members, it’s a piece of their own history.

“It’s a part of the heritage and original fabric of Hyde County, and we’re just trying to make sure it stays visible,” Clare Baum said.

Saturday’s open house will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The annual membership meeting will start at 2 p.m., and guests are invited to stay.

The Octagon House is located 30868 U.S. Highway 264, near Engelhard. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/octagonhouse.nc or email octagonhouse.nc@gmail.com.