A short block from the White House stands the Octagon, a National Historic treasure. One of the first great homes built in the new nation’s capital, the Octagon is a landmark of America’s architectural, political, and cultural history. Completed in 1801 for the eminent Tayloe family and designed by William Thornton, the original architect of the U.S. Capitol, the Octagon is one of the most significant and elegant buildings to remain standing from the early federal city. It was in the upstairs parlor that President Madison signed the Treaty of Ghent on February 17, 1815 establishing peace with Great Britain. In 1899, The American Institute of Architects chose the severely deteriorated building as its new national headquarters, initiating a series of state-of-the-art restorations.
After over two centuries of use, adaptation, renovation, and restoration, the Octagon continues to serve as a reminder of the great beauty of early American design and the lasting value of architectural excellence.