Preserving the past for a better future
Preservation doesn’t just revive the past, it also reveals invaluable insights about how to protect our iconic treasures and build better structures for tomorrow.
The Foundation and the AIA are uncovering best practices in preservation by rejuvenating the Octagon House, a historic landmark and a living laboratory.
Designed by the first architect of the United States Capitol, William Thornton, the Octagon has witnessed some of history’s most significant moments, including the 1814 burning of Washington, the official end of the War of 1812, and D.C.’s rise as a symbol of democracy. Starting in 1898, it was AIA’s first D.C. headquarters.
The Octagon teaches us about America’s past and its continued progress. That’s why we’re working to keep its structure sound and its legacy alive, with exhibits, educational programs, and multi-site partnerships. Unlike most museums, at the Octagon visitors are welcome to get up-close and hands-on with the objects–play a game of whist in the Drawing Room, try out a rope bed in the Housekeeper’s Room, a carry a bucket of coal up the Service Stairs! History comes alive as you compare the diverse lives lived in the Octagon with your own experiences today!
Today, the Architects Foundation administers The Octagon, whose restoration is a national model of historic preservation. The museum’s galleries host renowned exhibitions on architecture and design. A variety of programs also brings a range of architectural topics to the American public.