The Feusier Octagon House on Russian Hill is one of two homes remaining in San Francisco as well as the Bay Area constructed in this unique eight-sided architectural style.
Octagon homes were popular in the mid-1850s thanks to American lecturer and write, Orson Squire Fowler. A well-known phrenologist (the pseudoscience of delineating a person's personality and characteristics based on the shape and contours of their skull) Fowler wrote a book called, The Octagon House: A Home For All, or A New, Cheap, Convenient and Superior Mode of Building. This book touted numerous benefits of the octagonal layout, including more living space, more natural light and was warmer in winter and cooler in summer.
As a result, a few thousand octagonal homes were constructed throughout the United States and Canada but never gained popularity among the majority.
The Feusier Octagon House is San Francisco landmark #36 and is located at 1067 Green Street between Leavenworth and Jones. Though it's actual build date is not known, it has been seen in photographs dating back as early as 1858. At one point, there were upwards of five octagon houses in San Francisco. Today, only the Feusier Octagon House and Colonial Dames (McElroy) Octagon (SF landmark #17) on Gough Street in Cow Hollow remain. Most of the City's octagon homes were located in Russian Hill.
The earliest known owners of the home on Green Street was George L. Kenny, the grandson of California's Attorney General, Robert W. Kenny, who served from 1943 to 1947. George worked for H.H. Bancroft, the well-known bookseller, historian and publisher.
Louis Feusier first appears on record as the owner of the home in 1875. The home remained in the family for over 80 years, thereby getting the name Feusier Octagon House. The home was finally sold in 1954, a few years after the death of son Clarence. Feusier was apparently well acquainted with Mark Twain and Leland Stanford (of Stanford University fame) and he was involved in a myriads of interests, including winemaking, mining, salmon canning, importing of goods from Asia and wholesale produce.
Originally a two-story home, the Feusier's added a third story with a Manssard roof and a small, octagonal cupola. Though not affected by the 1906 earthquake, the home was threatened by the resulting fires. many of the outbuildings had to be removed. In March 1974, the home was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Today, the stately octagon home still is privately owned and retains it original exterior and the eight-sided shape remains both externally and internally.