The St. Luke and Odd Fellows Hall was built in 1905, and is the only building remaining from New Town, an African-American community in Blacksburg that thrived during the first 60 years of the twentieth century. The building’s simple, sturdy construction, faded plaster walls, and worn floorboards provide a glimpse of life in New Town. With the help of former New Town residents and dedicated citizens, the Town of Blacksburg preserved this historic building to create a museum highlighting the significant contributions of African Americans to the town.
Literally the only place African Americans could gather outside of local churches, the St. Luke and Odd Fellows Hall served as both a community center and a meeting place for the Grand United Order of the Odd Fellows and the Independent Order of Saint Luke. These benevolent organizations worked diligently to provide mutual aid to African Americans at a time when segregation prevented them from enjoying the rights of their white neighbors.
When desegregation came to Blacksburg in the late 1960s, the Hall was largely abandoned. In the summer of 2005, the St. Luke and Odd Fellows Hall was placed on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places. The Hall speaks of a time when African-Americans were strong and self-sufficient in the face of intense and persistent discrimination, and it demonstrates our nation’s spirit as neighborhoods of all races, classes, and ethnicities strove to create a sense of community and hope.
The St. Luke and Odd Fellows Hall is a two-story frame building, with a single room on each floor. A stage on the first floor was used for public gatherings. The second floor, accessed by a narrow staircase, was used as sacred space (members only) for the secret organizations that built the building. For that reason, as well as for accessibility issues, the second floor has been kept off-limits.
In order to accommodate public restrooms (which the building never had) and a small office for staff, a new structure has been constructed, reminiscent of the houses in the New Town community adjacent to the historic building.
Geographical and Contact Information
300 South Main Street