Urbanna is a product of an act passed by the House of Burgesses in 1680 that encouraged the creation of port towns. Initially laid out in 1691, the town developed along Virginia Street, the main street. The location offered convenient access to the tobacco wharves along Urbanna Creek and the Rappahannock River. A resurvey of the town by Henry Towles in 1741 produced an irregular grid pattern that survives. In 1748, Urbanna became the county seat of Middlesex County and remained so until 1851, when the seat was moved to Saluda. When tobacco production declined, the town became a center for local commerce, including the shipment of farm produce by water. Later in the nineteenth century it became a resort town. A number of houses and churches date from this period. Oyster and crab harvesting also became an important part of the economy. Urbanna contains notable eighteenth- and nineteenth-century buildings.
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