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2010 Ohio Historic Preservation Office Award Recipients

Gordon and Lynne Bury for their longtime stewardship and preservation of the Zimmerman Octagon House

In 1883, Ezekiel Zimmerman built an unusual house outside of Marshallville in Wayne County. Zimmerman was well educated, and as an avid reader, had most likely read Orson Fowler's 1848 book, A Home For All, which espoused that octagonal homes promised better air circulation, less exterior surface area to lose heat, more available natural light, simplicity in heating, and more efficient room arrangement. Zimmerman apparently designed this house based on one of the plans in Fowler’s book to which he added Eastlake Style ornamentation throughout, making it virtually unique. The basement and exterior corners of the house have specially shaped bricks cut for the 135-degree corners—and that are set without mortar! On the first floor, rooms radiate around the center stairwell that extends up to the attic, and then around the base of the cupola. A skylight gives the visitor on the first floor a glimpse all the way up to the cupola. On the outside, the porch wraps around four sides of the house and is supported by fourteen turned posts.

Modern conveniences of the late 1880's were plentiful in this house. There was a gravity flow water system in the attic that allowed the Zimmerman's to have indoor plumbing before their neighbors. A water heating system installed in 1896 is still used today, and it was one of the first homes in the county to be wired for electricity. Ezekiel Zimmerman lived out his life in this home and it remained in the family until it was sold to the present owners in 1973. Since purchasing it, Gordon and Lynne Bury have worked continuously to restore every aspect of this structure.

Their work has included rewiring and re-plumbing, removal of non-historic additions, repairs to the roof and porch and extensive work to the landscaping and outbuildings. However, they have made no structural changes, or added modern amenities.

Not only have the Bury’s worked to preserve the house, they have opened their home to others and used it to educate thousands about its architecture and the times in which it was built. When the family sat down for their first Thanksgiving dinner in 1973, a knock on the door came from people wanting a glimpse of this unique structure. Thus began sharing the home with the public. Tours, bus groups, mystery night dinners and Victorian high teas were held throughout the 70's and 80's. By the 1990's visitors dwindled and the Bury's took a break from giving tours, but by 2008 a new generation was showing interest and the doors have opened once again. Today the Bury’s utilize many volunteers and are forming a foundation to help ensure that future generations can continue to experience the house.

The Bury’s and the volunteers plan to reconstruct Zimmerman’s original greenhouse, resurrect the Zimmerman's windmill, and restore Mrs. Zimmerman's original wood stove for cooking demonstrations. Gordon and Lynne Bury have maintained a steadfast stewardship of their historic property for 37 years with no local, state or federal assistance, and continue to educate the public by opening their home as a living museum.

2010 Awards 
Presentation Image. Click to view slides of the awards presentation.

Click here to return to the list of 2010 Ohio Historic Preservation Office Award recipients.

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