Octagon House restoration moves forward

Published 8:06 pm Wednesday, May 31, 2017

ENGELHARD — About 41 years ago, Octagon House Restoration Inc. was born in Hyde County.

All these years later, the organization’s mission remains clear: preserve and restore one of only two antebellum, octagon-shaped houses in North Carolina. The latest project at hand is restoration of the house’s roof.

“The restoration/preservation specialist is working removing the old shakes (similar to shingles), making what repairs are needed to the old lathes, and preparing each of the eight facets for the new shakes to be installed with plywood,” Hyde County resident Clare Baum wrote in an email. “They have a couple more facets to prepare, and the work is tedious.”

Dr. William T. Sparrow built Octagon House in 1857. The layout includes an eight-sided chimney in the center of the home and four fireplaces. The exact reason why Sparrow built the oddly shaped structure is unclear, but some historians believe it was meant to withstand hurricane-force winds.

The last full-scale restoration of Octagon House took place in the 1980s, and restoration board chairman Walter Baum said in a previous interview that time and the elements had begun to wear on the structure since the last restoration.

According to Clare Baum, the roof replacement includes installation of an ice and water shield membrane, as well as another product to allow airflow between the roof deck and shakes. These steps will further protect the roof from the elements.

Preparing supplies for the roofing project took about two and a half weeks, Baum said.

“There were a couple of generous gifts that were made to help make this roof replacement possible,” she said. “The whole idea is we need to get a good roof on the building.”

The restoration group expects to complete this phase of the roof restoration by the end of the week. Once the roof is replaced, the group can then assess what needs to be done next, Baum said.

“It’s an ongoing thing,” she said. “This is just the first step.”

The Octagon House will host an open house Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., 30868 U.S. Highway 264, Engelhard. For more information or to find out how to donate, email octagonhouse.nc@gmail.com.