Impressions from a Lost World: The Discovery of Dinosaur Footprints

The Octagon

image of octagon

Image courtesy of Buildings and Grounds Collection, Archives and Special Collections, Amherst College.

The Octagon was built in 1847-1848 to house the Woods Cabinet and the Lawrence Observatory. An addition was made in 1855 for a geology lecture room and exhibit of minerals and fossils, plus a gallery for the Nineveh reliefs donated by an Amherst College graduate who became a missionary to Assyria.

The building was designed by Henry Sykes, an architect from Springfield, Massachusetts, who also designed residences and churches in Greenfield. The unusual shape was at the insistence of Hitchcock, who had a similar structure added onto his own home, as can be seen in the painting by Robert Peckham of Hitchcock coming home to his welcoming family.