This building was erected as a mercantile store in the 1820s, but it never received a proper address in city planning. Hence the enduring name: Number Nothing. A stone block that once sat outside the building’s southwest corner was used for auctioning goods and slaves. This square has been a focus of county activity since 1762. Being lawyers, it was not unusual in the early 19th century to see Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and James Monroe conversing in front of the historic courthouse across the street. Prior to 1865, slaves too shopped along Court Square on Sunday mornings. Of the 20,0000 residents of Albermarle county in 1830, about half were black and all but 400 were enslaved. Most free blacks became so before 1807 when it became illegal in Virginia to emancipate slaves without moving them out of the state. Some blacks had gained their freedom by serving in Virginia’s integrated regiments during the American Revolution. Black soldiers from Albemarle County included Shadrack Battles, half black and half Native American, who worked after the war as a carpenter and landscaper around Court Square.
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