Smithfield, VA: The History of the Town

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This article is sponsored by the abuse attorneys from Smithfield. We encourage residents and visitors to learn more about the history of Smithfield and discover what it has to offer.

History of Smithfield

Smithfield is a town within the Isle of Wight County, Virginia. Located in the South Hampton Roads subregion of the Hampton Roads region, it can be found on the south side of the James River, on the Pagan River, at the geographical coordinates of 36.978767 degrees north latitude and 76.618578 degrees west longitude. Before it was colonized in 1634, the area that is now Smithfield was once called Warascoyak, or point of land, by the Native Americans.

In 1752, Arthur Smith IV established the town as a seaport after it was surveyed and platted by County Surveyor Jordan Thomas. As the industry in the area grew at the waterfront location of "Wharf Hill," more commodities started being introduced: Peanuts and Pork. This eventually led to the town becoming the "Peanut Captial of the World" and the "Ham Capital of the World." However, the fire of 1921 destroyed the peanut warehouses causing the trade to move to Suffolk.

On the other hand, Captain Mallory Todd of Smithfield developed the business of curing and shipping the hams, making the neighborhood world-famous. In 1926, the Virginia General Assembly passed a statute to define "Smithfield ham" by law. One of the requirements was that the ham had to be processed within the town limits. In 2014, the WH Group of China purchased the Smithfield Packing Company and created the subsidiary Smithfield Foods, Inc. Today, the company is the largest pork processor and hog producer in the world.

You can also Get To Know Acredale, Virginia.

Smithfield Historic District

Smithfield Historic District is a 200-acre national historic district in Smithfield. It features 289 buildings and two structures, which consists of 211 houses, 37 commercial buildings, 23 garages, 10 barns, four churches, two corncrib structures, one smokehouse, one warehouse, one colonial kitchen, and one farm office. Notable buildings in the district are:

  • Original County Clerk's Office
  • County Jail
  • Wentworth-Barrett House
  • Wentworth-Grinnan House
  • King-Atkinson House
  • Smith-Morrison House
  • Boykin House
  • Goodrich House
  • Thomas House
  • Hayden Hall
  • Smithfield Academy
  • Christ Episcopal Church
  • Hill Street Baptist Church
  • Old Isle of Wight Courthouse
  • Smithfield Inn
  • Windsor Castle Farm
  • P.D Gwaltney Jr. House

On February 20, 1973, the Smithfield Historic District was designated on the Virginia Landmarks Register (VLR). On July 2 of the same year, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).

Windsor Castle Farm

Windsor Castle Farm is a former plantation in Smithfield. The plantation was built in 1750 of Greek Revival architectural style. In 2000, it was designated on the VLR and listed on the NRHP. Located on Cedar Street, it is now a public park called Windsor Castle Park. The 208-acre park features the old manor house, hiking trails, mountain biking trails, a fishing pier, a canoe launch, kayak rentals, a dog park, a natural playscape, and picnic areas. Its hours of operation are every day from 6 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

William Rand Tavern

William Rand Tavern is known by many names. Throughout the century, the tavern has been the Rectory of the Christ Episcopal Church, the Sykes Inn, and the Smithfield Inn. Built around 1752, the two-story, five-bay brick and frame building is of the Georgian style. On March 17, 2004, it was designated on the VLR. On May 27, 2004, it was listed on the NRHP. Today, the building serves as a bed and breakfast for visitors of the town of Smithfield.

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