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Smith-Murphy Octagon

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1854, Willett L. Carroll. 516 E. 6th St.

“Since, then, the octagon form is more beautiful as well as capacious, and more consonant with the predominant or governing form of nature—the spherical—it deserves consideration.” So argued Orson S. Fowler in his little volume (1849 and 1852) A Home for All; or, the Gravel Wall and Octagon Mode of Building (p. 87). Within a few years after the publication of Fowler's ode to the octagon, owners and architects took up the form, and the Smith-Murphy house was one result. In general outline and plan, it would appear that the Davenport architect Willett L. Carroll studied the plates in Fowler's volume that illustrated the William Rowland house. Like the Rowland house, the Smith-Murphy octagon looked stylistically to the Italianate in its details, for example, the bracketed roof and multiple thin paired columns. The house now is devoid of much of its earlier wood detailing, but its basic form remains intact.

Writing Credits

David Gebhard and Gerald Mansheim


What's Nearby


David Gebhard and Gerald Mansheim, "Smith-Murphy Octagon", [Davenport, Iowa], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Iowa, David Gebhard and Gerald Mansheim. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993, 74-74.

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