A long-time Blacksburg project is finally making forward progress.
According to the town, the Alexander Black House is going to be restored and reopened by late 2013.
“Since the house was moved from its original location in 2002, the town has tried to protect the house and prevent it from experiencing any sort of deterioration,” said John Bush, a member of the Historic and Design Review Board.
According to Bush, a foundation was built, the house was moved to its current location on Draper Road, and architecture teams were employed to draw up documents for the building’s full restoration.
“After the architecture teams finished the contract documents, it is expected that the project will cost roughly $2 million and take roughly 12 months to complete,” Bush said.
The Alexander Black House is the grand Victorian home of Alexander Black, great nephew of Blacksburg’s founding father, William Black.
Alexander; his wife, Liz Kent Otey; and their daughter, Mary Louise, lived in the home until 1935. Black was a prominent businessman in the community and founding president of the National Bank of Blacksburg.
“The town of Blacksburg recently signed a contract with the local firm, Snyder & Associates, for the restoration of the Alexander Black House," Bush said. "Phase one of the restoration is projected to begin Feb 1.”
The project will be multi-step, beginning with the full restoration of the exterior of the house, an addition to the back of the building and a portion of the first floor, with the ultimate goal of opening the facility up to the public.
When the house is initially opened, the main foyer and main hallway will be available for hosting events, but the maximum occupancy will be less than 50 due to legal limitations.
The completed house will serve as a “repository for celebrating and preserving the rich history of the community and surrounding region.”
It will also be a cultural center, highlighting local talent in the areas of visual and performing arts, and a venue for educational programming and special events.
“The really important thing is that we are demonstrating that we are serious about this project and its relationship to Blacksburg’s history and Blacksburg’s future,” Bush said. “The house will serve as a gathering place for people who are interested in their ancestry, and the restoration of the house will serve as the foundation for many future projects.”
An ongoing capital campaign sponsored by the Blacksburg Museum and Cultural Foundation will allow for the eventual complete restoration of the first and second floor, enabling the building to be fully operational.
The Blacksburg Museum Committee and the Blacksburg Museum and Cultural Foundation merged during the campaign and hosted events including The Historic Lecture Series, the Historic Sixteen Squares Walking Tours, Friday evening Movies on the Lawn and the Market Square Jam.
A ground-breaking ceremony will take place in late January.