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Octagon House/First Kindergarten

The Octagon House
America's First Kindergarten
View Website Favorite (4) 919 Charles St - Watertown, WI 53094
Information: 920-261-2796

May, weekends 12-3pm. MD-LD, daily 12-3pm, closed Tuesdays, LD-Oct weekends 12-3pm.

The Octagon House Museum, located in historic Watertown, Wisconsin was built by pioneer settler John Richards and completed in 1854. The unique 8-sided design for this grand residence was inspired by New York architect Orson Fowler, who promoted the healthy living aspects of octagonal dwellings in the 1850s.

The Octagon House was one of the largest homes built prior to the Civil War in Wisconsin. The solid brick, five-story mansion was built with early forms of central heating, running water, and ventilating systems. A magnificent four-story central cantilevered spiral staircase rises four stories from the first floor to the cupola or “tower room” where one can enjoy sweeping vistas of the city and surrounding countryside.  

The museum grounds are home to the First Kindergarten in America founded in Watertown by Margarethe Meyer Schurz, a restored pioneer barn, a delightful 1936 model of the Octagon House and a tour center with gift shop.

Enjoy a fully-guided tour of the Octagon House Museum. Tours of the First Kindergarten and Pioneer Barn are self-guided.

  • History/Heritage Type
    • Wisconsin History
    • Historic Homes

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