Charles B. Holt was born in North Carolina in 1872. Eventually he moved to Charlottesville, where he worked as a carpenter, locksmith, and umbrella and furniture repairman. Holt became proprietor of his own repair shop and, in 1916, bought property at 115 4th St. NW in Vinegar Hill, the city’s prominent African-American business district. In 1917, he married Mary Spinner, at which time he also purchased property on Preston Avenue. This property lay directly across from the land which would become Charlottesville’s all-black Washington Park. Holt’s Preston Avenue property had been three of the thirty-two adjacent lots owned by a prominent African-American barber and real estate developer named John West.
The Arts and Crafts bungalow known as “The Rock House” still sits at 1010 Preston Ave and is owned by the Legal Aid and Justice Center. Until recently there have been no renovations, major additions, or changes to the house since 1926, and its stone structure remains solid. A matching stone wall with stone gate columns partially surrounds the house, and steps lead up to the grassy front yard and the house’s columned porch. The Legal Aid Justice Center describes the Rock House’s interior as consisting of “a large basement, which incorporates the kitchen; four rooms and a bath upstairs; and six rooms and a bath downstairs, with a good-sized fireplace in the living room. The first and second floors have multi-paned windows with sashes, and the basement level has small full-pane windows, four on the east side and two on the west side.”
On April 18, 2006 the Legal Aid Justice Center and the Rock House Steering Committee celebrated the restoration of the Charles B. Holt Rock House at a ceremony attended by over 200 community members. Julian Bond, Chairman of the NAACP and University of Virginia Professor of History, gave a the dedication address. In June, 2007, the Rock House Garden and Historic Path were unveiled with photo engraved plaques that tell the story of Charles B. Holt, his home, and the era in which he lived.
The Rock House was officially listed on the Virginia Landmarks Registry and National Register of Historic Places in the spring of 2006. The Legal Aid Justice Center also received the Public Preservation Project of the Year Award from the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, Thomas Jefferson Branch.
Geographical and Contact Information
1010 Preston Ave