Virginia State Seal Virginia Department of Historic Resources

086-0004 Abijah Thomas House

Abijah Thomas House
Photo credit: Mike Pulice/DHR, 2012

*Click on image to enlarge.

For additional information, read the Nomination Form PDF

VLR Listing Date 09/16/1980

NRHP Listing Date 11/28/1980

NRHP Reference Number 80004225

This singular brick dwelling is Virginia’s most sophisticated representation of Orson Squire Fowler’s advocacy of octagonal architecture that caught the imagination of Americans in the reform movement of the 1850s. In his book A Home for All or the Gravel Wall and Octagon Mode of Building (1848), Fowler stated that an octagonal plan encloses one fifth more floor area than a square of the same total length of wall and allows for more compact internal planning. Built in 1856-57 for Abijah Thomas, a Smyth County landowner and developer of mines, mills, and foundries, the house retains a variety of graining, marbleizing, and stenciling. Sections of painted ashlar on the plaster wall of one of the principal rooms may be a unique survivor in Virginia of this once popular decorative treatment. The house has been left empty and deteriorating for many years.

VLR: Virginia Landmarks Register
NPS: National Park Service
NRHP: National Register of Historic Places
NHL: National Historic Landmark

Updated: June 11, 2021