Powhatan is a small rural county seat with an important courthouse, a scattering of early civic buildings and residences, and an impressive tavern. The town was laid out and settled in 1777 at the formation of the county. A plat of 1785 shows the town laid out in six blocks (one reserved for the public square), each with four lots, facing a central street or one of the parallel streets. Originally named Scottville after Revolutionary War general Charles Scott, the name was changed to Powhatan in 1836. Otherwise, this small courthouse town has changed little since it was established.
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