VLR Listing Date 03/16/2023
The Samuel D. Outlaw Blacksmith Shop is located in the Accomack County town of Onancock, and is listed under the African American Watermen of the Virginia Chesapeake Bay MPD. The shop has an open, one-room plan, with unfinished walls exposing the building’s wood framing. A reconstructed brick forge with a chimney is located along the western wall to provide space for heating metals. According to local residents, Samuel D. Outlaw, an African American blacksmith from Windsor, North Carolina, constructed the shop where he began his business about one year after moving to the Town of Onancock in 1926. Outlaw, a 1925 graduate of the blacksmithing program at the Armstrong-Slater Memorial Trade School of Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute (now Hampton University), worked at his shop for more than 60 years during Virginia’s segregation period, producing specialized metal tools to Black and white watermen, farmers, carpenters, and community members throughout the Eastern Shore. Locals who remember Outlaw in the later years of his business, including Virginia’s former governor Ralph Northam, recall that his shop was “the place to go” when something was in need of repair, and describe him as a “gracious and welcoming man” who treated everyone equally, regardless of race. At the time of listing in the registers, the Samuel D. Outlaw Blacksmith Shop serves as a museum preserving the legacy of Outlaw’s contributions to the Eastern Shore’s communities.
Many properties listed in the registers are private dwellings and are not open to the public, however many are visible from the public right-of-way. Please be respectful of owner privacy.
VLR: Virginia Landmarks Register
NPS: National Park Service
NRHP: National Register of Historic Places
NHL: National Historic Landmark
Updated: March 16, 2023