The Octagon House – Marion, Virginia - Atlas Obscura

The Octagon House

Marion, Virginia

An eight-sided home built during a brief octagon craze in the 1850s. 


The Octagon House of Virginia, also known as the Abijah Thomas House, is an abandoned home that sits in the countryside just outside of Seven Mile Ford. It was built during the brief period in the 1850s when octagonal houses were extremely popular across the country.

The eight-sided house was built using bricks made on the property by enslaved laborers. It sat on a 400-acre plot of land owned by Thomas, who was a textile plant owner and property tycoon who enslaved many people. While the work of enslaved people varied, most enslaved people lived in small households in close proximity to their enslavers, with tasks including farm work, cooking, cleaning, and child care.

The house is a hybrid of architectural styles, and was allegedly designed by Thomas himself. The structure is two stories tall, with eight brick sides. It spans nearly 6,000 square feet—massive for the time—and has 17 rooms and 10 closets.

Its most unsettling feature is an apparent storage area referred to as the dark room, which was supposedly used to punish and imprison enslaved people. Although red stains are visible on the walls and floors of the room, at least one historian believes these are the result of food spillage rather than blood. Regardless, the dark room and the mistreatment of the people who Thomas kept enslaved have yielded grim urban legends about the house. Many who have visited the site claim to have seen ghosts, heard the sounds of shackles moving, and seen blood dripping down interior walls in the house.

The Octagon House was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980 and is currently owned by a local resident who has been trying to raise funds to restore it.

Know Before You Go

If you have an interest in visiting, you should know that the property is posted with No Trespassing signs, and you will be in violation of the law if you proceed on to the property.  Also, all of the ground floor openings on the house have been boarded up, so you will not be able to venture inside the house.  

Community Contributors

June 7, 2017

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