Thomas-Conner House

Thomas-Conner House (fall 1954) Spring House as part of Thomas-Conner House
with Baptist Church in background.

Thomas-Conner House Built for $10,000 in 1882
From The News Messenger Bicentennial Edition, July 1, 1976, page 8-H
by Nadine Allen

The Thomas-Conner House, corner of Draper Road and Wall Street, is one of the finest examples of mid-19th century architecture in Blacksburg. It has a hipped roof with cross gables and a heavy bracketed cornice and eyebrow windows.

The house is reported to have been built in 1878 by William Howard Thomas of Roanoke Valley at a cost of $10,000 and was occupied in 1882. He built it for his only daughter, Mary Virginia, who married John Connor, Virginia Tech professor of mechanical arts. They had two children, a son, White b. Conner (professor at NC State) and a daughter, Betty, both deceased. Miss Betty Connor, a retired Virginia Tech professor of biology, lived in the house until her death in December, 1971.

In April 1972 the house was advertised for sale and was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. William Hoy, who have converted the residence into four apartments.

The following item from THE GRAY JACKET, October 1876, is believed to refer to this house: "Mr. Will Thomas' house on Stony Creek Street is rapidly nearing completion. The contractor, Mr. Branson is sparing no paints to make it a pretty house. He is assisted as superintendent by Cadet Blackswell." Draper Road was formerly Water Street. The bricks were made on the location. The slave quarters in the rear required two more years to build.

The Thomas's also lived in the house for many years with the Connors. They built a wooden pipe line (which can still be seen today) from the spring on Clay Street behind the Blacksburg Middle School to the spring house on the corner of their lot (now covered over).

This house has been recorded by the Virginia Landmarks Commission (file no. not available).

This item was printed in the News Messenger on April 20, 1932:

"The letter below was written to A.T. Keister, whose mysterious death is now being investigated, by Mr. P.B. Goodrich of Winchester, Ind. It was sent to the News Messenger office by Mr. Keister two days before his death, as containing information on early Blacksburg history.

Dear Mr. Keister:

Beg to acknowledge receipt of the copied of the Montgomery News Messenger of March 9 and March 23, 1932, containing an early history of the city of Blacksburg. Thank you very much for these papers. They contain some information we did not have, mainly that John Baldwin Goodrich was one of the men who laid off the town of Blacksburg. We already had the information that he helped lay out the town of Christiansburg.

I note in the paper you sent me that the name was spelled `Goodrick.' Don't know whether this was misspelled in printing the papers or from the copy of the records but he `wrote a splendid hand and his name was `Goodrich.''

I am giving you a copy of his deed to the town of Blacksburg for the town spring. I visited this spring when in your city just about a year ago now. Located it easily from the description of an old aunt of mine had given me years ago.

My father, John Baldwin Goodrich III, was born in a house that formerly stood across the street from the bank where the filing station now is. Part of the stones of the foundation were there. Mr. Black pointed them out to me. My great-grandfather John Baldwin Goodrich II, who donated the spring, lived in the long frame house across the street from the filing station. Don't think there is any doubt about this being a fact as W.L. Lancaster, formerly mayor of Blacksburg, told me that when he was a little boy this was known as the Goodrich home.

We thought that out great-grandfather was connected with the first college established in Blacksburg but inclined to believe that since he lived in Christiansburg first that he may have been connected with the Girl's Seminary there. If there is any way to establish the fact. I would be glad to do it. He died in Blacksburg in 1828.

This was his deed to the spring. I am copying a little of the information we had showing the land he owned and the lots 6,7 and 8 on which is located the house in which he was supposed to live, but think this part of the description is wrong. Think he lived across the street from lots 6,7 and 8. If I remember correctly, lots 6,7 and 8 are where the filling station now is, and that is where my father was born.

He bought of George Surface on May 1, 1828, a tract of land in the town of Blacksburg 21 by 99 poles and on Sept. 1, 1828, he purchased of William Thomas, et al, as Trustees of the town of Blacksburg, lots No. 6,7 and 8 upon which was located the house in which he lived while in Blacksburg.

In this deed was the following interesting reservation `The Spring' on the lot commonly called the `Town Spring' with enclosure of 16 feet square with passageway 6 feet wide from Water Street to the spring, is dedicated for the use and benefit of the citizens of the said town of Blacksburg. It is understood, however, that the said Goodrich paid for said spring and this right of user is a donation from him and is made on the express condition that no person using the spring shall be allowed to wash themselves or any article of clothing within the boundary of the said lot, but allowed merely to take water from the spring in clean vessels, and the trustees of the town promise on their part to use all proper means of protecting the spring.

This deed is recorded in Record K, page 194.

I have a legal description of some place in this lot in which the town spring is located but I have misplaced it."

"I don't know whether you have a paper in Blacksburg or not but thought this might be an interesting news item for the paper. I have tried to interest the mayor in curbing this town spring and fixing it in good shape to be preserved as a historical spot in your town. Think if it was not very expensive I could get the money from the Indiana Goodriches to fix it up. At any rate, Mr. Lancaster thought perhaps the city council would do it."

Very truly yours,
P.E. Goodrich
Winchester, Ind.

Last Updated: February 23, 1998