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Early Years

Very few photos of the house exist, however, a photo (below) from late 1880s or early 1980s shows the house as originally built. Taken in the winter, a sleigh pulled by reindeer sits by the yard. John Freeman Norrish holds the reins while his wife, Lavinia Tarr Norrish, is in the sleigh, and their daughter stands by the fence. The iconic hitching post (near Mr. Norrish) is shown in this photo, on the Spring Street side. It is now located in front of the house on the 2nd Street side, and was probably relocated as part of street work.

Winter in early Hastings

This photo shows a view of the house (taken from the 2nd Street side) in the early 1900s. The shutters on the second story were still intact and the lightning rod was sitting atop the cupola. When the house was stuccoed, the shutters were probably removed and never replaced. The lightning rod was removed when the roof was replaced. The fence is now wrought iron and sits on the original stone wall. Other changes to the original house were rebuilding the wrap around deck and removing the wrought iron fencing on the Spring Street side. According to local folklore, the rear extension was added to the house, date unknown, and was a reclaimed house moved from Ninninger to Hastings.

Early 20th century view from the Octagon House Inventory website
back yard view, from Octagon House Inventory Website

The house was converted into apartments in the late 1940s. This photo shows the back yard, notice the grill on the second story roof and antenna on the top. The three levels of the main structure were split into 3 apartments. The addition (shown on left side) contained two units. The conversion resulted in the removal of several support walls, and closed access to the three levels of the main area. Because of this remodeling, the floors began to sag, plaster walls cracked, and access between the three levels and addition were closed. A stairwell to the lower level was removed, doors were sheetrocked closed, and a doorway between the addition and main structure was converted to a shower.