Blackstone was first known as Blacks and Whites, after two rival late 18th-century taverns. One of these taverns, Schwartz (Blacks) Tavern, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, still stands. The town was renamed for the English jurist Sir William Blackstone and incorporated in 1888. The Battle of the Grove, a Civil War cavalry action, was fought just west of here on 23 June 1864. The United Methodist Assembly Center, formerly the Blackstone College for Girls, is located here. At the turn of the 20th century, the town was a prosperous manufacturing, tobacco, and educational center in Southside Virginia. Nearby Fort Pickett was built in 1942.