Smithfield, Virginia
A Brief Historical Overview


     After the Warascoyak Indians, the first person to own land in Isle of Wight County was Arthur Smith.  On 10 September 1637, Arthur Smith patented 1450 acres in Isle of Wight County, described as "a neck of land running S.E. along a creek behind the Pagan Shore".
     In 1750, Arthur Smith IV had the land surveyed and laid out as a town.  Smithfield derives its name from the family of Arthur Smith, not from John Smith, the founder of Jamestown.  The town consisted of four streets and 72 lots.  The principal streets, as shown on the original plat, are now Main Street (to Institute Street), South Church Street, South Mason Street, and Cedar Street (between Mason Street and Church Street).  These original streets are shown in black on the maps in this online walking tour.
     Within two years after the town was established, 59 of the 72 lots had been sold.  All of the lots were sold prior to the Revolutionary War.  Each lot sold for four pounds, six shillings - roughly the equivalent of $7 today.
     Born on the banks of the Pagan River and nurtured by the trade and commerce that sailed on its tides, Smithfield was, from its very beginning, a "river town", and its whole life and growth have been conditioned by the river.
     Smithfield is proud that its Historic District is designated as a Virginia State Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Historic Register.

     On the walking tour of Smithfield's old towne district, you will see an harmonious blend of 18th century Colonial, Federal, Georgian, and Victorian period houses and buildings, side by side.  Settled in 1752 primarily by British merchants and ship captains, this riverport town thrived for more than twenty years as a British colony before the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  The town boasts fifteen houses that date to the 18th century, ten of which pre-date the Revolutionary War.  In the early 19th century, a number of Federal period homes were built, but it was after the Civil War, in about 1876, that the greatest building boom began.  It was in this era of steamboats and a flourishing peanut industry in Smithfield that many of the elaborate Victorian homes were erected.  Their ostentations elegance is visibly evident - turrets, towers, stained glass windows, and steamboat style Gothic trimmings.


Adapted from the original hard copy walking tour designed by the Smithfield & Isle of Wight Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Unless otherwise noted, the homes shown on this site are private residences and are not open to the public.