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A Brief History

The Armour-Stiner (Octagon) House is one of the most visually unique homes in the world. It is the only known, fully domed octagonal residence and the only house which replicates Donato Bramante’s 1502 Tempietto in Rome. The elegantly proportioned Tempietto was built in the form of a Tholos, an ancient classical temple, which complemented America’s third quarter of the 19th-century fascination with classical forms.

In 19th century America, octagonal houses were a popular mode of construction following the publication of a book, The Octagon House: A Home for All, by Orson Squire Fowler, a phrenologist, sexologist, and amateur architect. In 1872, an earlier and simpler house was purchased by Joseph Stiner, a prominent New York City tea merchant. His alterations created the present lyrical structure. With plans to use the house as a summer retreat, Stiner added the dome and the verandah to create a classical, elaborately detailed ancient temple whimsically colored, detailed, and decorated so as to amuse its viewers.

Subsequent owners of the house have been imaginative men. In the 1930s it was occupied by Aleko Lilius, a Finnish-American writer and explorer who had lived with a female pirate who had plundered ships off the coast of China. One of the most celebrated occupants was Carl Carmer, the author, poet, and historian. Carmer resided in the house from 1946 to the time of his death in 1976. His legacy includes tales of a resident ghost. The house plays a role in a number of his published tales.

Shortly after the death of Carl Carmer, the house was acquired by National Trust for Historic Preservation. In need of stabilization and conservation, it was the first house to be acquired by the National Trust and resold, in 1978, to a private citizen. Joseph Pell Lombardi, the owner, is a preservation architect specializing in conservation, restoration, and historic preservation throughout the world. Under the direction of Lombardi’s son, Michael Hall Lombardi has managed, researched and performed restoration work throughout the house, including the Egyptian Revival Room, Basement, Kitchen, Greenhouse & Studio, and much of the decorative surfaces.

The house and grounds have been restored to their 1872 appearance.  The interior of the house, its decoration, and its 1870s furnishings are the best display in the country of the American neo-Roman style, popular for a brief period in the third quarter of the 19th century.  Under the guidance of Michael Hall Lombardi, the only domestic Egyptian Revival room still in existence with its original 19th-century furnishings and decoration has been reinstated.  The house has been the subject of numerous articles and awards. Since 2012, it has been featured in a full-length book by Joseph Pell Lombardi available on his website

Joseph Pell Lombardi

With degrees in both Architecture (B. Arch.) and Historic Preservation (M.Sc.), Joseph Pell Lombardi established his firm 50 years ago as one of the first to specialize in restoration, preservation, adaptive re-use and contextual new buildings. With offices in New York, France and Hungary, the Office of Joseph Pell Lombardi has served as architect for over 1,000 projects worldwide.

Lombardi’s efforts range from preservation projects, as in the conservation of Château du Sailhant to large-scale adaptive re-use projects such as Liberty Tower, an early 20th century 33-story Gothic skyscraper in New York City’s Financial District converted to residential use. As both architect and principal, Mr. Lombardi’s 1978 conversion of Liberty Tower introduced residential use to lower Manhattan.

Lombardi has conserved and converted to residential use over 500 commercial buildings in Manhattan and has conserved and restored over 150 houses throughout the world. Current projects include conversion to residential use of a Midtown Manhattan tower, nine commercial buildings in SoHo and NoHo, Manhattan being converted to residential use and the creation of a new contextual residential tower on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

Mr. Lombardi owns many of the projects in which he is involved.  He is the owner of the National Historic Landmark, Armour-Stiner (Octagon) House in Irvington-on-Hudson, New York, the only Roman temple form, domed octagonal house in the world and the first property to have been sold into private ownership by the United States National Trust for Historic Preservation. In addition to Château du Sailhant, Lombardi also owns and continues to conserve several other major historic homes including Alfheim Lodge, a rustic, storybook lodge in the mountains north of New York City and the Parsonage in Peru, an 1850 Greek Revival home in Peru, Vermont.

Joseph Pell Lombardi served on the Venice Committee of the World Monuments Fund and was Chairman of the World Monuments Fund Founders Society.  He has served on many boards including the New York City Historic House Trust, the New York City Historic Districts Council, the National Trust for Historic Preservation – Lyndhurst Advisory Council and the Zoning and Historic Preservation Committee for the Alliance for Downtown Manhattan. He is a member of the Society of Architectural Historians.


      • 1990 Victorian Society in America Preservation Award
      • 1991 Preservation League of New York State Achievement Award
      • 1993 New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission Certificate of Merit
      • 1993 City of New York, Department of General Services Professional Service Award
      • 1995 Municipal Art Society of New York Preservation Award

“The Armour-Stiner (Octagon) House: Cabins, Houses, Lofts, Skyscrapers & Castles”
Presented by The Irvington Historical Society
July 19, 2022