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Eight More Octagons

June 2024
1min read

Mr. Boulton did indeed visit Longwood, but we didn’t include it for reasons of space. The photograph below hints at the spectral opulence of the house. Haller Nutt, a cotton merchant, began building his Oriental villa in 1859 only to be forced to stop work on it with the outbreak of the Civil War. In 1970 the house was given to Natchez’s Pilgrimage Garden Club, whose members carefully maintain it and have opened it to the public .

In the course of compiling a history of the octagonal Charter Oak School (above) in Randolph County, Illinois, I discovered that the present building replaced a conventional school in 1873 and was the design of Mr. Daniel Ling, himself a teacher.

The octagonal plan at first seemed well suited to a school, since blackboards painted on walls could be seen from any point in the room and the teacher could stand in the center with rows of seats narrowing as they converged toward her. But the seating plan proved impractical: the varying desk sizes made it too expensive.

After the school closed in 1953, the land and building were sold at auction to Miss Nellie Ohms, a teacher and former pupil there. She later sold it to the Randolph County Historical Society for six hundred dollars. Although the society had just twenty-six dollars in its treasury, it borrowed from a bank and paid off the debt in a year.

The society’s annual Cornfest, held on the school grounds on the first Saturday in August, helped finance needed restoration.

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