Side A: This eight-sided house reflects a widespread pre-Civil War architectural fad. Promoted by phrenologist Orson S. Fowler in his 1848 book A Home for All as a way to “bring comfortable homes within the reach of the poorer classes,” the octagon made efficient use of interior space and natural ventilation. More than thirty octagonal houses are known to have been built in Ohio, and at least twenty-five survive. This example was built circa 1854 and purchased by cabinetmaker Amirus Darrow in 1864. The exterior walls are constructed of chestnut beams between layers of concrete. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.
Side B: One of the most prominent trial lawyers of the 20th century, Clarence Darrow was born in nearby Farmdale in 1857 and lived here from 1864 to about 1873. He was admitted to the Ohio Bar in 1878. After practicing in Ashtabula County for several years, he moved to Chicago in 1887 and first established a national reputation by defending labor leader Eugene Debs in a case stemming from the Pullman Strike of 1894. Darrow consistently championed the powerless and was steadfastly opposed to the death penalty. His most prominent cases, coming late in his career, were Illinois v. Leopold and Loeb, a sensational 1924 capital murder trial; and Tennesee v. Scopes, the famous 1925 “monkey trial” that first tested the legality of teaching the theory of evolution in public schools. Darrow died in Chicago in 1938.
Sponsors: Ohio Bicentennial Commission, The Longaberger Company, Western Reserve Bicentennaal Commision, and The Ohio Historical Society