Editor’s Note: Hours after we published this story, a source familiar with the sale shared additional information about the ownership of 0 Court Square with Charlottesville Tomorrow. The story has been updated to reflect that information.
After more than a month on the market, Number Nothing Court Square — the site of an auction block upon which humans were bought and sold into slavery — has sold.
According to the city’s GIS System, an entity called Excellent Horse LLC is the new owner as of Oct. 22. Excellent Horse paid $1,287,500 for both parcels that together make up Number Nothing (also known as 0 Court Square). That’s $62,500 below the $1,350,000 asking price, and $162,100 over the $1,125,400 assessment value.
It wasn’t simple to deduce who was behind the LLC.
C. Tucker Waldruff is listed as Excellent Horse’s registered agent (the person or entity typically responsible for keeping a business’ tax and legal affairs in order). A company’s registered agent is not necessarily the company’s owner.
Excellent Horse did not list any principal officers in its filing to the Virginia State Corporation Commission. Its principal address is the same as Waldruff’s listed business address, 103 Third St. SE. That is also the address for Equity Financial Services, a local accounting firm whose president is listed with the SCC as Paden Waldruff.
However, the deed of trust credit line for the property, filed with the Charlottesville Clerk of Court on October 22 and shared with Charlottesville Tomorrow by a source familiar with the sale, showed that Charles Tucker Waldruff is “a member of Excellent Horse LLC.”
Waldruff could not be reached for comment and a woman who answered the phone at Equity Financial Services said she did not know anything about Excellent Horse or the sale of Number Nothing Court Square.
The Number Nothing building, and the land it sits upon, has extraordinary cultural and historical value to the community.
The brick structure was built as a mercantile shop in the 1820s, and local newspaper ads from the 1850s and ’60s show that Benson & Brother mercantile bought and sold goods and people from that building, Phil Varner, chair of the Charlottesville Historic Resources Committee who has been compiling an index of those advertisements, told Charlottesville Tomorrow in September, when the property was fresh on the market.
A sign on one side of Number Nothing Court Square marks the approximate spot of the auction block where enslaved people were bought and sold.
Credit: Mike Kropf/Charlottesville Tomorrow
At one point, a stone auction block sat on one side of the building. Its approximate site is currently marked by a rough-looking black sign that reads “Site of Slave Block” in white faux script. It’s attached to a handicapped parking signpost.
Though people were bought and sold into slavery at a variety of spots throughout Court Square, Number Nothing is “the only extant building, where we know it housed an actual slave trader/mercantile,” Jalane Schmidt, director of the UVA Democracy Initiative’s Memory Project and associate professor of religious studies who serves on the Historic Resources Committee, told Charlottesville Tomorrow in September. “So that’s why people have invested it with a lot of meaning. Yes, there was more than this, but this is the one that’s still here,” she said.
Various folks throughout the community have expressed a desire to commemorate Court Square’s role in the slave trade, including the Historic Resources Committee as well as descendants of people who were bought and sold on those sites. What’s more, the Blue Ribbon Commission on Race, Memorials and Public Spaces task force recommended in its December 2016 report to city council that this site be memorialized.
According to the Virginia State Corporation Commission Clerk’s information system, the new owner of the building, Excellent Horse LLC, formed September 1, 2021.
The Number Nothing property went on the market around the same time.