Architect Elmer Forrest Jacobs (June 11, 1866-October 9, 1945) was born in Preston County. He attended West Virginia University and Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh before he began designing fire-resistant factories in Pittsburgh. In 1894, Jacobs set up his practice in Morgantown.
Jacobs designed homes, factories, banks and other commercial enterprises, mills, churches, post offices, and schools in northern West Virginia and in Pennsylvania. He also was responsible for adaptive reuse and sensitive additions to existing buildings. His work is seen particularly in downtown Morgantown, in residential South Park, and on or near the West Virginia University campus, where Jacobs added the two wings to Woodburn Hall. Although he did not design the original 1896 Seneca Glass Company building still standing on Beechurst Avenue, he did design a major portion of it that had to be rebuilt after a fire in 1902. He also designed the Union Stopper Company building nearby, later known as Beaumont Glass, which was recently demolished.
Jacobs’s career coincided with the growth of Morgantown from 1894 to 1915, when the city increased from 2,000 to 10,000 people and the demand for domestic, educational, commercial, and industrial housing was critical. Most of his extant buildings in Morgantown are now on the National Register of Historic Places. Jacobs died in Morgantown.
This Article was written by Dolores Atchison Fleming
Fleming, Dolores. Architect Elmer Jacobs. Panorama, Dominion Post, 5/8/1988.