1342 Mt Vernon Ave., Portsmouth, VA 23707
It will take a unique person to tackle this historic octagon house in the Olde Town section of Portsmouth, Virginia. Built between 1915 and 1920, this brick three-bedroom, 1.5-bath home was first inhabited by druggist Clarence Mosby, thus its moniker The Mosby House. Later the Lucien Avera and William H. Brown families called it home. Orson Squire Fowler popularized the octagon house in the 1880’s, claiming this style home was healthier than traditional structures. It was thought that the octagon provided more air and sunlight, and so it became a fad in the latter part of the 19th century. About 2000 were built in the United States, of which only about 600 are left. Most of those are located in the Hudson River Valley of New York. Today, there’s a growing fascination of the octagon house with collectors perusing ebay for collectables including light fixtures, floor plans, trinkets and puzzles.
Note the porch that wraps around three walls, featuring a distinctive pediment on #1342. The front door boasts sidelights and a transom, and the octagonal roof is red, a color that stands out in the aerial view. Sadly, the interior details have largely been obliterated by grime and cheesy alterations over the years. You can see the bones of the once lovely staircase and some hardwood flooring under the linoleum, but other than the original bathroom and interior doors and trim, the home needs a complete restoration job. It appears pretty disgusting now, but this historic octagon house can be a beauty once again. It takes a certain kind of family to live in this style house. Who has the guts to take it on?
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