In 1926, the year that Charlottesville opened its new segregated facilities – Jefferson High School and Booker T. Washington Park – Charles B. Holt engraved his name in the concrete steps to his new home to commemorate its completion. Holt, a carpenter and umbrella repairman, was an African American, the son of a slave. He was born in 1872, less than a decade after emancipation and a few years before the enactment of the Jim Crow laws that disenfranchised blacks and segregated the South. Building the house of rock required hard work, vision, and sacrifice – it was a remarkable personal achievement.
The Rock House later became home to Asalie Minor Preston, an African American schoolteacher. Along with her sisters, she endowed the Minor-Preston Educational Fund, which annually provides more than $150,000 in scholarships for students in the Charlottesville community.
Today the Rock House stands restored. 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 moving 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.
The Rock House is the new home to a pro bono partnership between UVA’s School of Law and the Richmond law firm of Hunton & Williams. The project, pairing volunteer law students and pro bono attorneys from the law firm, will offer free legal representation to victims of domestic violence with custody, visitation and child support cases as well as to immigrants seeking political asylum.
This dedicated group helped to renovate the building and grounds at the Rock House and Garden, and to install an historic walkway. The Rock House now serves as the headquarters for the Hunton & Williams/UVA Pro Bono Partnership.
Carter and Karen Beauford Co-Chairs
Mary Ann Elwood
Kimberly C. Emery
John and Beth Neville Evans
Leslie Harris Scott
Tracie Fortune Tyler
Mary Joy Scala
Payne, Ross & Associates