Publications

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Celebrating 150 Years of History at Octagon House: 1861-2011
By Janis Horne

When The National Society of The Colonial of America saved the Octagon House from destruction in 1952, almost nothing was known about the early history of this eight-sided wooden residence located on the corner of Gough and Union streets in San Francisco. Read More: Read Online or
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John Bull House. Photo by Nathan M. Klain. Courtesy of The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

San Francisco’s “Other” Octagon Houses
By Ruth Donohugh

Octagonal houses were a major part of the visual landscape of San Francisco in the 1860’s and 1870’s. Most of them were built on 50-or-100 vara corner lots. A vara measurement was roughly a yard (thirty-three inches) and was used when the original town of Yerba Buena had been laid out using the traditional Spanish pueblo model.
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Jackson Street, between Gough and Octavia, probably in the 1870s. Photograph by Carleton Watkins. Washerwoman’s Lagoon, the sand hill north of Lombard, and Fort Mason are prominently visible. The McElroy octagon house can be seen at its original location, the southeast corner of Union and Gough. Photo courtesy of the Greg Gaar collection.

History of Cow Hollow
By Janis Horne

Although San Francisco was founded by the Spanish in 1776 and later governed by Mexico, it had just become an American possession when the Gold Rush transformed it from a sleepy village to a thriving city. The population of San Francisco grew from 1,000 in 1848, to 25,000 at the end of 1849, to about 90,000 (according to William McElroy) in 1861.
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time-capsuleA Tale of Three Time Capsules – 1861, 1953 and 2011
By Liz Vezzani and Ruth Donohugh

The Octagon House has the distinction of owning three time capsules.
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