The Abijah Thomas Octagon House is not only a historic home located in Smyth County but it is an educational and interesting site to visit if you’re passing through. The home is located at 801 Octagon House Road, Marion VA (Thomas Bridge Community) and in recent years was purchased by Derek Orr. Since then, he has formed the Octagon House Foundation in hope of restoring this once spectacular 1857 Civil War era octagonal home.
The Octagon House has a fascinating history locally and is on the register of historic buildings. The house has been the topic of historical research as well as urban legend and is thought to be haunted. Contrary to popular urban legends that claim that the house is haunted by slaves who were beaten and died at the hands of their owner, Abijah Thomas was actually documented to treat the slaves he owned very well–so well in fact that a number of them returned to work for him after slavery was abolished.
Today, the Octagon House Foundation hosted its 2nd Annual Open Window Tour fundraising event. This event allows people to come out and see the home with the boards removed from the 1st floor windows so that the interior of the house can be viewed in a walk around tour. The window tour features several historians and docents who provide information about each window you come to so that you may get a better idea of what the house once was. We filmed a short teaser at the beginning of the tour today to give people an idea of what they could expect when they attend this wonderful event. In the area of the first window on the tour, a sign is posted where fingerprints of a small slave child can be found in the brick of the home.
The rest of the tour continues around the house showcasing the parlor area, bedrooms, the winter kitchen, dining room and office of Abijah Thomas accompanied by lots of historic facts and research. The tour is loosely guided but at your own pace. You can take as long as you like at any area, photos are permitted and questions are encouraged. This is all included for a $5 donation to the Octagon House Foundation.
After the main attraction of the window tour, you can spend some down time just relaxing on the beautiful lawn. At one time this location was known as Mountainview, likely because of the beautiful view of the mountains it overlooks. There were tents, tables and chairs set up in various locations across the property, merchandise was sold to benefit the restoration of the house that included a variety of t-shirts, original prints of the Octagon House, Christmas ornament pre-purchase, and even some of the original nails from the house that were collected in cleanup. Other volunteers had tables set up displaying artifacts that were found in and around the property thought to be original to the home in the era in which it was constructed.
Food and drinks were available for purchase and a bluegrass band was on site to entertain throughout the day. At the other end of the yard, a confederate camp display was set up to pay tribute to the historic significance of the Civil War in our area.
Here’s another clip of some of the music and happenings at today’s event
An interview was conducted with Derek Orr, owner of the Octagon House –he says there’s more to come! Check out the interview below!
If you are interested in becoming a member of the Octagon House Foundation, please see information provided at the link above. Donations also accepted online via PayPal.