Fred W. Hoyt was originally from New Hampshire. He was a true pioneer in the newspaper world where he began his newspaper career selling newspapers on a train as a boy and finished with being the editor.
Fred Willis Hoyt moved to Fernandina in 1879 where he became prominent in the business community of Fernandina’s post Civil War years. He was partner with W.A. Sanborn during the growth of the new fledgling Fernandina community. The Hoyt-Sanborn businesses were operated at 10 North 2nd Street and from one of Fernandina’s showcase commercial buildings at Centre and 2nd Streets.
As a merchant, he sold hardware and building materials, groceries and ship’s stores at the North 2nd and Centre Street chandlery. He invested in real estate and founded the First National Bank of Fernandina as well as other financial institutions in Nassau and Duval Counties, one of which was robbed while he was on site.
At various times, he was Chairman of the County Commissioners, President of the city’s Board of Alderman, on the board of the Chamber of Commerce, and a director of the Florida Historical Society. He was also a deacon of the First Presbyterian Church and a memorial window in the church honors him and his wife.
Fred Hoyt and his wife, Kate Auralia Taylor Hoyt, had their home constructed by local contractor John R. Mann, which is said to have been modeled after the Rockefeller Cottage on Jekyll Island. The home was built circa 1905 and is of balloon frame construction with a foundation of brick piers. The home is a frame vernacular structure with a colonial revival porch across the full length of the front and east side of the home. Its design is significant for its octagonal two-story bay, hip roof and dormers, balcony and bracketed eaves.
The entrance reflects Hoyt’s New Hampshire background, as the double entry “Yankee” doors are rare in Florida houses of the time. The house has seven fireplaces that heated the home. In the third floor attic, there was a playroom with a piano and puppet theatre. There is also a basement, which was used to bring the coal in to service the fire places.
Mr. Hoyt’s room was constructed with an indoor bathroom while his wife had an indoor corner sink.
John R. Mann is responsible for a number of historic buildings in Fernandina Beach, including the Nassau County Courthouse; and he worked on Andrew Carnegie’s home on Cumberland Island.
Mr. Hoyt, his wife Kate, and their three sons, Charles Arny, Fred Willis, Jr., and Ralph Wadleigh, lived in the house for many years. In 1925 Mr. Hoyt Passed away from complications due to Yellow Fever which he had survived in 1888.
Following Mr. Hoyt’s death, his wife and 3 boys moved to Jacksonville; selling the family home to Mr. Hoyt’s successors at the bank, Mr. Everett Mizell, his wife Lara, and their three boys Willis, Alden and Oliver. The Mizell family lived in the home for 50 years. Following this, the house served as offices for local lawyers until it was turned into a Bed and Breakfast in 1993. It presently has 10 guest rooms available.
When Fernandina Beach’s historic district was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, Hoyt House was described as “noteworthy for its octagonal two-story bay, cross gable, balcony, hip roof, hip dormers, and bracketed eaves.”
The 2nd floor guest rooms bear names associated with the Hoyt family. Room 9 is the Hoyt Suite; Room 8 is Kate’s Study; and Rooms 6, 7, and 10, the Willis, Wadleigh and Charles rooms, are named after the three Hoyt sons.