Octagon Museum is located In Washington, D.C., very near the White House. It is recognized for being one of the first great homes to be built here and is a landmark of the cultural, political and architectural history of America. It was designed and built in 1801 by William Thornton, the U.S. Capitol's first architect, for the Tayloe family and was known as an important building of its times.

Col. John Tayloe III, an entrepreneur with political ambitions, bought this plot for his home. It was built between 1799 and 1801 and was the first house to be built in the area, complete with parks, avenues and streets. Considering Tayloe's political ambitions, it was necessary for him to live close to the White House. In 1817, The Octagon became the permanent residence of Col. and Mrs. Tayloe and their 15 children. John died in 1828 and his wife Ann in 1855, after which The Octagon was rented for about 50 years as a girls' school and then by the Navy Hydrographic Office.

During the War of 1812, it was used as a temporary home for Dolly and James Madison after the White House was burned in 1814. In 1815, in the upper parlor of this eminent house, President Madison signed the Treaty of Ghent, ending the war with Britain.

In 1899, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) leased the decaying building from the Tayloe family, restored it, bought it in 1902 and made it their headquarters. In 1968, the American Architectural Foundation (AAF), bought the Octagon from the AIA and threw it open to the public in 1970.