Octagon 3: The Kellogg House in St. Johnsbury, Vermont

Picture of The Kellogg Octagon House in St. Johnsbury, Vermont

The Kellogg Octagon House in St. Johnsbury, Vermont

Located at 281 Mt. Pleasant Street, the Kellogg House in St. Johnsbury, Vermont is another example of the Octagon style house. St. Johnsbury is blessed to have another building of this unique style with the other being the Windhorse Commons.

Here is an excellent write-up of the Kellogg House by The North Star Monthly (March 2006, pdf):

The Kellogg house contains 3,400 square feet. Each of its eight sides is sixteen feed long. The cellar floor is mostly concrete. The foundation is field-stone, with brick from ground-level to the sills. the two-story house is wood frame, with lathe and plaster, sided with clapboards painted yellow and with shutters and trim of dark green.

The original Italianate front porch was replaced with a plain entrance porch and an overhanging roof. An octagonal cupola, eight feet in diameter, has an arched window in each side and a bracketed roof. the main house also has a bracketed roof. A rectangular two-story addition, 16 feet wide and 32 feet long, was added by Mrs. Savage and contains a six-room apartment.

The floors on the lower level are of hardwood; the second-story floors are painted softwood boards. The first floor has nine-foot ceilings, the second floor ceilings are at eight-and-a-half feet. The square hallway and staircase with one landing, balustrades and a railing of natural-finish wood are in the center of the house at a 45-degree angle to the front door.

Picture of Floor Plan of Kellogg Octagon House in St. Johnsbury, Vermont

Floor Plan of Kellogg Octagon House in St. Johnsbury, Vermont

A stairway to the cellar is beneath the main part of the staircase, and an enclosed stairway to the attic is above. A horizontal window in the hall ceiling above the stairway may be opened for ventilation in summer by means of a pulley and chain. when the window is opened hot air rises and pulls cooler air up the stairway as a form of natural air conditioning. The attic has no windows but the cupola, reached by a built-in stepladder, has windows that open.

The front doors are arched and enclose two panes of etched glass. The house has panel doors and woodwork with classic moldings painted white. Windows are double-hung with two panes in each section. The dining room was enlarged when the Fairbanks Company owned the house, and a dark-stained and varnished sideboard/china cupboard unit was added. The unit includes a small sink at the left and a base cupboard on the right. One may crawl through this cupboard and into the secret “hideaway” room. A wall was moved to enlarge the dining room, making the hideaway room quite small. It has no windows.

The living room once contained a fireplace which backed up to the hideaway room; this and portions of its chimney have been removed, but part of the chimney is still visible in an upstairs closet. The parlor contains an operating fireplace. A partition between two small chambers on the second floor was removed to create and infirmary at the time the Porter daughters were ill with influenza during the 1918 epidemic.

The kitchen originally had a wood cookstove, and still has a dumbwaiter lift to the basement. That room was modernized by the Kelloggs and they installed laundry equipment in an original pantry. Bathrooms were added after the days of outdoor privies.

Be sure to check out more of St. Johnsbury’s fine architecture in our town gallery. And check out our other Octagon posts.

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