North Carolina Architects and Builders - A Biographical Dictionary

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Allen, Jacob S. (ca. 1839-1909)

Birthplace: Unknown
  • Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Builder
NC Work Locations:
  • Wilmington, New Hanover County
  • New Hanover
  • Burgaw, Pender County
  • Pender
  • Raleigh, Wake County
  • Wake
  • Wake Forest, Wake County
  • Wake
  • Warrenton, Warren County
  • Warren
Building Types:
  • Educational;
  • Public


Jacob S. Allen (ca. 1839-1909), a builder in Raleigh and Wilmington during the late 19th century, was associated with several firms including Betts and Allen, and Ellington, Royster, and Company, as well as working on his own as Jacob S. Allen and Company. The saga of his various partnerships and businesses illustrates the fluidity of the postwar era.

A Confederate veteran, Allen entered Raleigh's business world promptly after the Civil War. He was probably the Jacob S. Allen, son of Mary Allen, who was living in Warrenton as a child of ten in 1850. Mary and her son Jacob S. were in Circleville, Ohio, in 1860, but in 1861, Jacob Allen of Warren County enlisted in the Confederate service as a private and a carpenter aged 21, and served through the war, emerging with a long and venerable record. In 1870, Jacob Allen, a carpenter aged 30, was residing in Raleigh with his wife Mattie and their children, and in 1880 he was listed as a builder with his family in Raleigh.

Allen and his associates engaged in a sequence of enterprises that led from carriage making to building. The Raleigh Daily Sentinel of July 22, 1870, reported that Betts, Vaughn, and Allen were building a carriage and buggy factory, but had previously been engaged in the carriage and buggy manufacturing business known as Allen and Vaughn. Jacob S. Allen and James M. Betts formed a partnership as Betts and Allen, builders and manufacturers, and by 1875 the two were advertising their partnership in building.

Meanwhile, in June 1873, Allen reported that he was the superintendent of building at the state fairgrounds and had let contracts to various parties, including Allison F. Page of Moore County and Cary and Wilson and Waddell of Johnston County. In 1879, Allen served as contractor for Wingate Memorial Chapel in Wake Forest, and he was probably involved in construction of Lea Laboratory Building with contractors Ellington, Royster, and Company, for he affiliated with that firm when it took over the business of Betts and Allen.

In 1883, the Pender County Courthouse for which Ellington, Royster, and Company took the contract, was reported as being "done under the immediate supervision of Mr. Jacob S. Allen" (Wilmington Weekly Star, December 14, 1883).

In 1886, Allen was advertising as a builder and contractor in the port city of Wilmington, noting that he was formerly of Raleigh and was prepared to enter into contracts for "Wood or Brick Buildings of any character"(Wilmington Star, March 26, 1886). In 1889 and 1890, he obtained building permits for various buildings in Wilmington. At one point the Wilmington newspaper cited him as "the clever contractor and builder." But he did not stay there long. The Wilmington Star reported on April 12, 1891, that Capt. J. S. Allen, "the well known contractor, left for Richmond last night where he will make his future home. Capt. Allen liked the people of Wilmington, but his restless energy needed a broader field."

According to his obituary in the Wilmington Star of June 6, 1909, Jacob S. Allen died on June 5 in Raleigh, aged 70. He had served in the Civil War in the 12th Regiment and was wounded at Malvern Hill, and his "long and useful business career" had been spent in Wilmington and Raleigh.

Author: Catherine W. Bishir.

Published 2010

Building List

Pender County Courthouse and Jail (Burgaw, Pender County)

Pender Burgaw


Dates: 1882-1883
Location: Burgaw, Pender County
Street Address: Courthouse Square, Burgaw, NC
Status: No longer standing
  • Public
Images Published In:
  • Bill Reaves, History of Burgaw, N. C., Centennial Edition (1979).

Orton Hotel (Wilmington, New Hanover County)

New Hanover Wilmington


Dates: 1888
Location: Wilmington, New Hanover County
Street Address: 109-117 N. Front St., Wilmington, NC
Status: No longer standing
  • Commercial
Images Published In:
  • Susan Taylor Block, Cape Fear Lost (1999).
  • Beverly Tetterton, Wilmington: Lost But Not Forgotten (2005).

Joseph Hinton purchased the old Orton Hotel and was "having plans prepared by Charles McMillen for improvements" to cost about $20,000 (Manufacturers' Record, Jan. 18, 1906). Whether these were executed is not known.

Orton Hotel

Wingate Memorial Chapel (Wake Forest, Wake County)

Wake Wake Forest


Dates: 1879
Location: Wake Forest, Wake County
Street Address: Wake Forest, NC
Status: No longer standing
  • Religious

Jacob S. Allen's Work Locations


  • Charlotte Vestal Brown Papers, Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh, North Carolina.
  • William Reaves Files, New Hanover County Public Library, Wilmington, North Carolina.
  • United States Census.

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