In the mid-1700s, a frontier farming community named Drapers Meadow was established in the area. In 1750 Samuel Black purchased 650 acres of land at Drapers Meadow, which was later inherited by his sons William and John Black. In 1798 William Black set aside 38 acres of his land to establish the village of Blacksburg.
The great grandson of Samuel Black was Harvey Black, the father of Alexander Black, a prominent businessman in the town. Alexander Black lived in a house typical of Blacksburg design at that time. This house, which eventually burned, was located between Main Street and Roop Street (Now known as Draper Road.) He chose to rebuild a grander home of the Queen Anne Victorian architectural style. Steep cross-gabled roofs, gingerbread trim, towers, and vertical windows are all typical of Queen Anne homes.
The Black Family remained in this house until 1935 when Mr. Black passed away. Its prominent and highly visible location on Main Street lent the house to a commercial use and the building was eventually occupied by the Oakey’s Funeral Home. This Funeral Home service continued until 2002 when the McCoy Funeral home sold the house.
During the house’s 60+year service as a funeral home, several alterations were made to accommodate business operations. The wrap around porch was enclosed and interior walls removed to allow for large gathering areas. The second floor balcony was covered as well as some of the bay windows. Vinyl siding was placed around the exterior and the top of the parapet was removed.
In March 2002, a 400-space parking garage and retail development called Kent Square was proposed on the site of one of the Town's original "Sixteen Squares.” The Alexander Black House was also located on the site. In agreement with the developer, Blacksburg's Town Council allocated $2 million toward the parking garage, and one month later approved the purchase of the historic Alexander Black House. The Town then contracted to have the house moved to a new location on Draper Road and initiated plans to restore and preserve the historic structure.
View pictures of the relocation of the Alexander Black House and learn more about the project.