The Oldest House in Arkansas Is Nearly 200 Years Old!

Jacob Wolfe Historic Site in Norfork Arkansas
© Bonita R. Cheshier/

Written by Colby Maxwell

Updated: August 15, 2023

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The oldest house or building in a region is more than just an architectural element but is a testament to the region and its history. From its building material to the people who lived in it, homes are little symbols of a state and why things are the way they are today. Let’s look at one of the oldest houses in Arkansas and see what we can learn about it, plus its impact on our understanding of the area.

The Oldest House in Arkansas

Jacob Wolfe Historic Site in Norfork Arkansas

The Jacob Wolf House is the oldest public structure in the state of Arkansas.

©Bonita R. Cheshier/

At nearly 200 years old, the Jacob Wolf House is the oldest house and overall public structure in the state of Arkansas.

If you are looking for a glimpse of Arkansas history, you might want to visit the Jacob Wolf House, the state’s oldest public structure. Built in 1829 by Jacob Wolf, the house was intended to act as the home for Wolf and his new wife. However, the bottom level of the home operated as the courthouse of Izard County.

The Jacob Wolf House witnessed many important events in the early days of Arkansas. It hosted court sessions, land sales, elections, and social gatherings. It was also the home of Wolf and his large family. Wolf was a successful trader, ferry operator, and legislator who helped shape the development of the region. He donated land to construct the courthouse and named the town Liberty (the region now known as Norfork). He also represented Izard County in the General Assembly of Arkansas Territories.

The Jacob Wolf House sits in present-day Norfork (Baxter County) above where the White and North Fork rivers meet.

Where is the Oldest House in Arkansas Located on a Map?

The Jacob Wolf House can be found in the northern part of the state of Arkansas. It is less than a three-hour drive north of Little Rock. On the other hand, it is only a three-and-a-half-hour drive west of Memphis, Tennessee. And driving southwest from St. Louis, MO, you could reach this historic house in under five hours driving westward on Interstate 44 and then south on Highway 63.

The Jacob Wolf House sits in present-day Norfork (Baxter County) above where the White and North Fork rivers meet. Norfork is located in a scenic valley in north central Arkansas on the North Fork River and is renowned for its historical sites and superior trout fishing.

The Construction of the Jacob Wolf House

A felled Douglas fir

Construction of the Jacob Wolf house included mostly yellow pine, but the techniques used have helped to keep the home standing to this day.


The Jacob Wolf House is a remarkable example of 19th-century architecture and craftsmanship. It has survived wars, floods, fires, and neglect. The house underwent restoration several times and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is owned by Baxter County and is open to the public as a historic site. The property also includes a blacksmith shop and a cabin built by Wolf’s brother.

The house is a two-story, dogtrot-style log cabin that overlooks the White River. It was constructed with yellow pine logs using a dovetail joining method and very few nails. With so few nails, the structure is joined by the wood itself, helping it stand the test of time and not fall victim to wear and tear that often occurs from nail joinery methods. The house has two brick fireplaces and a unique “turkey ridge” roofline that helped protect it from the elements all these years.

The Jacob Wolf House Today

The Jacob Wolf House is more than just a historical landmark! It currently operates as a museum that showcases the life and culture of the early settlers of Arkansas. Visitors can explore the house and learn about its history, architecture, and furnishings. They can also see the blacksmith shop and the cabin that belonged to Wolf’s brother. These buildings display tools, artifacts, and exhibits that illustrate exactly how early pioneers in the region lived. Since the house has been standing for 200 years, simply recording its history is a great way to preserve the region and its people’s history as well.

Currently, the Jacob Wolf House also hosts special events throughout the year. These include reenactments, demonstrations, lectures, and festivals. Some of the popular events are Heritage Day in May, the Old Time Music Festival in June, and the Christmas Open House in December. Most of the events feature music, crafts, food, and some activities.

The Jacob Wolf House is open to the public from Tuesday to Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free, but donations are welcome. The house is located at 13775 Highway 5 South in Norfork, Arkansas.

What’s Next for the Oldest House in Arkansas?

Decrepit dilapidated house. Rustic grunge background. A collapsed shack in the snow.

Regular maintenance is needed to keep the home in good condition.

© Bosyak

The goal of the Jacob Wolf House is to preserve history through the preservation of the home itself. The home is maintained through the state of Arkansas, with a few restoration projects planned in the near future.

The next restoration projects include site improvements like new roofing, shutters, and a lot of carpenter repairs. They also plan on repairing or replacing the limestone chimney and fireplace. Even with repairs, the goal is to keep the house’s bones untouched as possible. Thus, the focus is mainly on doing the quality-of-life changes needed as they arise.

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About the Author

Colby is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering outdoors, unique animal stories, and science news. Colby has been writing about science news and animals for five years and holds a bachelor's degree from SEU. A resident of NYC, you can find him camping, exploring, and telling everyone about what birds he saw at his local birdfeeder.

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