Preserving history of Octagon House goal of organization

Published 5:05 pm Wednesday, August 8, 2018

From Octagon House Restortation

The Octagon House Restoration Inc.’s project to obtain old photographs, media articles and stories about the house is paying dividends.

Several months ago the, Washington Daily News published an article about the ongoing restoration efforts at the Octagon House in Engelhard. The article mentioned that OHRI, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving, protecting and maintaining the historic Hyde County landmark for future generations, was seeking items that help tell the story of the house.

Since then, several mementoes have surfaced and have been donated to the nonprofit. Even more recently, OHRI was contacted via the Octagon House’s Facebook page by the granddaughter of someone who lived in the house during the 1930s and 1940s. Evelyn Irene (Hodges) Hoskinson, daughter of Dixon Lee and Lavenie Hodges, and her four sisters — Bernice, Zuma, Exie and Leona — and a brother, Perry, lived in the house prior to the family relocating to Virginia to work during World War II.

Her granddaughter, Rhonda Reagan, wrote to say that her grandmother and great-aunts had always told a lot of stories about living in what Hoskinson called “the round house” and how difficult it was to sneak out of it as teenagers because of its design.

Around 2006, Reagan brought her grandmother back to Hyde County to visit the Octagon House. While they were here, OHRI held a luncheon for them, and Doug Gibbs, former Hyde County reporter for the Washington Daily News, interviewed her for an article for the newspaper.

Hoskinson was born in Hyde County in 1923, and following her death in 2013, she was buried in the Mt. Olive Church of Christ cemetery in the Ponzer community of Hyde County.

Walter Baum, OHRI chairman, commented: “We are thrilled that people are sharing their reminiscences of the Octagon House! The stories of the families who lived here are the fabric that gives the house meaning. We want to preserve those memories just as we are preserving the house for future generations.”

With guidance from the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office, Baum and other OHRI board members embarked on a three-phase restoration plan in 2016. A new hand-split western red cedar shingled roof was completed in 2017. This summer, the house has been elevated with new footings and piers built.

Pleased with the progress being made, Baum said, “None of this would have been possible without the generous donations of so many who love Hyde County and the Octagon House. The final phase will involve the repairing and painting the exterior surfaces, restoring the fireplaces inside, and other much needed improvements, and we will continue to need their help to get this accomplished.”

For more information about the Octagon House, email To follow the restoration, visit Donations may be safely and securely made via PayPal on the Facebook page, or mailed to the OHRI, PO Box 35, Engelhard, NC 27824. OHRI is an IRS-recognized 501(c)(3) organization and donations are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.