In 1753, a 600-acre section of land on the eastern boundary of the fertile farming tract at Draper's Meadows was selected by William Lippard. The map shows the modern boundaries of Blacksburg superimposed on a plan of the earliest land grants. There is no evidence that the land was occupied for many years, but in 1772 the tract was purchased by Samuel Black of Augusta County, the son of a Scotch-Irish immigrant. Toward the end of the eighteenth century, his son, William Black, proposed the establishment of a town on his well-watered tract and apparently received the support of most of his neighbors for what was undoubtedly a profitable endeavor. The town is shown by the small grid in the center of the Lippard tract. The development of a town like Blacksburg was a factor of the local structure of commerce and crafts in the agricultural upland South, where compact commercial centers were often desirable chiefly for the settlement of non-farming tradesmen and skilled workers.
Blacksburg was formally established in 1798. The town that William Black had laid off the previous year was a rectilinear grid of sixteen blocks. The sloping space between Main Street and what is now known as Draper Road was occupied by the first range of four two-acre blocks; three more ranges filled in the rest of the town land. Each block was divided into four half-acre lots. Tax records and surviving buildings indicate that the earliest structures in the town were built of log. By the second decade of the nineteenth century wealthy families were constructing middling and large houses of brick, but most houses were still built of the traditional log material and consisted of one or two rooms.

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Last updated October 24, 1997