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Alexander Black House & Cultural Center

History

 

 

When Alexander passed away in 1935 the house became a boarding home for a short time and then hosted a series of funeral homes. In 2002 the Town purchased the home to save it from demolition and moved it across Draper Road. It sat vacant until funds were raised to complete the first phase of the restoration. In August 2014, the Alexander Black House & Cultural Center opened its doors to the community. Today, the home is operated by the Blacksburg Museum & Cultural Foundation (501c3 nonprofit) as the Alexander Black House & Cultural center with a mission to preserve, interpret, and promote Blacksburg's art, history, and cultural heritage.

After fire completey destroyed his family's first home, Alexander Black began construction on an extravagant Queen Anne Victorian in 1896. A decendant of Blacksburg's Founder, Alexander built the large home to demonstrate how successful one could be in this small southwestern Virginia town. A banker and businessman, Alexander descends from an influential family in fields of farming, business and medicine. The Black  family played an important role in the founding and growth of Virginia Tech as well as the town. 

St. Luke & Odd Fellows Hall

History

For over 60 years, the St. Luke and Odd Fellows Hall served the community well hosting social events, gatherings for music and enjoyment, and creating a sense of community.  When desegregation came to Blacksburg in the late 1960’s, the St. Luke and Odd Fellows Hall was no longer needed as a social center.

In 2004/05 trustees appointed by the court, Bea Walker, Aubrey Mills, Sr., and Walter Lewis negotiated an agreement with the Town of Blacksburg to preserve the building.  In 2009-10 the Town of Blacksburg restored the St. Luke and Odd Fellows Hall as a museum and activity center to preserve the memories and contributions of the many families who lived in New Town. 

 

New Town was an African American neighborhood in Blacksburg, Virginia from the late 19th century until the mid-1960’s.  It consisted of Gilbert Street and a small lane that was home to about 20 families.  The only remaining structure today is the St. Luke and Odd Fellows Hall at 203 Gilbert Street.   The Hall was the social center for area African-Americans from 1905 when it was built until the end of segregation.  In the 1970’s, road construction and other development resulted in the decline and disappearance of New Town as a predominantly African-American neighborhood.  Nonetheless, New Town and the St. Luke and Odd Fellows Hall are important reminders of the resilience, pride, self-reliance, and community spirit of the people who lived in this neighborhood as well as the injustice that segregation imposed.

The Hall fully occupied the 25 foot by 45 foot lot purchased for $95.00 in 1905 by leaders of the Tadmore Light Lodge 6184 of Grand United Order of the Odd Fellows and the Saint Francis Council of the Right and Worthy Grand Council of Independent Order of Saint Luke.  It appears to have been built by volunteer labor in a Greek Classical style; it is precisely symmetrical with entry doors on the two sides facing the streets.  The windows are placed so that the building is well lit throughout.  The two story frame structure has an open gathering room with a high ceiling and an ample stage.  The second floor reached by narrow stairs in the front of the building was reserved for members’ ceremonial functions and organization meetings.