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Sugar Bottom marker dedication planned

With the widening of the 200 block of South West Street complete, town officials plan to unveil and dedicate a marker commemorating the Blair House and the nearby Sugar Bottom neighborhood at 2 p.m., Friday, Dec. 14.

A group of local African-American citizens researched the area and helped provide the marker’s wording. The marker explains the history of Sugar Bottom, the predominately African-American neighborhood located in the area of the Antioch Baptist Church.

Virginia Dudley, Jean Turner-Brock-Gray, George Taylor Jr., Johnson Lane and Frederick Gray formed the committee that brought the history of the area to life and crafted the wording.

“They devoted time and resources,” said Culpeper Zoning Administrator Maxie Brown, who worked with the citizen committee. “The marker would not have been possible without their input.”

The marker will be placed of South West Street near where the Blair House once stood. The two-story house was built in 1924 and served as both a residence and at times as a barbershop and taxi business. It was demolished in May 2011, after no one or group wanted to take possession and relocate the structure.

Sugar Bottom was known as a tight knit community of African-Americans, who lived in small houses or “shanties,’ near the intersections of West Locust Street and South West Street.

In the mid-1900s Dr. Kyle “O.K” Burnette lived and worked in the neighborhood. He delivered most of the babies of Sugar Bottom and later built a four-unit apartment exclusively for black people. That building stands today and serves as an accounting office.

In 2006, the town traded the East Stevens Street parking lot next to the State Theatre for the Blair house property. The trade allowed the town to widen South West Street, which narrowed at that point. The road-widening was completed in November.

The ceremony will begin in the third floor committee room at Town Hall before town officials, guests and the citizen’s committee head to South West Street for the official unveiling.


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