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Jacob Wolf House (Courthouse)

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1829, Jacob Wolf; 2002 restored, Jameson Architects. AR 5 at Wolf St.

This house initially was the courthouse for Izard County. It was built by Jacob Wolf, who also donated the land on which it sits. After Baxter County was carved from Izard in 1835 and its county seat established in Mountain Home, Wolf and his family moved into the courthouse and made it their home. Wolf had served as a representative to the Arkansas Territory Legislature and was also a merchant and carpenter. The two-story yellow pine building is Arkansas’s oldest existing public structure. Tree ring studies have concluded that the logs were hewn between 1825 and 1828, and the usual practice was to allow logs to dry for one year prior to using them for building. The building is one of the few remaining examples of a two-story dogtrot in Arkansas, a form once common on the American frontier. Thirty-foot-long logs span the upper level of the house, which has a ten-foot-wide breezeway below. Half-dovetail notches join the logs, and the original roof rafters that are pegged at the peak are all intact. The building has exterior end chimneys and a two-story gallery, and Wolf’s hand-forged strap hinges remain. The courtroom was on the upper floor, and the breezeway provided a gathering space for court attendees and shelter in inclement weather. Also combating inclement weather was the tradition of the “turkey feathers” along the edge of the roof ridge, which helped keep the ridge dry. Here, shingles extend vertically above the roof on the side of prevailing winds, and thus rain is carried up, over, and clear of the roof ridge.

An extensive restoration of the building was completed in 2002. Although much original material remains, the west porch was replicated. Archaeologists studying the area below the floor and the surrounding grounds found evidence that the beautiful site overlooking the White River had been the location of earlier Native American communities and prehistoric habitation. The building is now owned by the county.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Cyrus A. Sutherland with Gregory Herman, Claudia Shannon, Jean Sizemore Jeannie M. Whayne and Contributors
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Data

Citation

Cyrus A. Sutherland with Gregory Herman, Claudia Shannon, Jean Sizemore Jeannie M. Whayne and Contributors, "Jacob Wolf House (Courthouse)", [Norfork, Arkansas], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/AR-01-BA4.

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Arkansas

Buildings of Arkansas, Cyrus A. Sutherland and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2018, 80-80.

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