Jacob W. Holt, one of the North Carolina’s foremost architects, was born in Virginia on March 30, 1811. Due to the deaths of his parents, Holt was apprenticed to a carpenter at a young age. He moved to Warrenton in 1844, where he lived and worked as a builder and architect until the late 1860s, at which time he returned to Virginia. He also worked briefly in Murfreesboro in the 1870s. Holt’s time in Warrenton spanned most of the town’s prosperous years. Operating one of the largest contracting firms in antebellum North Carolina, he employed a work force of sixty men, carpenters as well as slaves. The 1850 census indicated that Holt’s household included eighteen young men, doubtless apprentices, carpenters, and assistants. He was also reported to own forty-two slaves, mostly young men.
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Holt’s place in North Carolina history is secured by both the quality and quantity of his work. Although not particularly sophisticated in style, his work in the Greek Revival and Italianate styles is well-documented and representative of mid-nineteenth century North Carolina architecture. Jacob W. Holt died in Keysville, Virginia, on September 21, 1880. He and his wife, the former Aurelia Ann Phillips, are buried together in Chase City, Virginia. The North Carolina Highway Historical Marker is one block from the home that Holt built and in which he resided while working in Warrenton. The home has been restored by the Rotary Club-sponsored Jacob Holt House Foundation as a community meeting house.
William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, III, 183-184—sketch by Catherine W. Bishir
Catherine W. Bishir and Michael T. Southern, eds., A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Piedmont North Carolina (2003)
(Warrenton) Warren Record, June 19, 1996
Catherine W. Bishir, Jacob W. Holt: An American Builder (1981)