As a living history museum, Historic Smithfield Plantation is again a cultural center for the surrounding community, much as it was in colonial times. When built in 1774 on the western edge of English civilization, it would have been the only house of its style on the frontier. The Smithfield-Preston Foundation believes heritage is important, and thus seeks to preserve and maintain this historical treasure for the education and enjoyment of our community and to attract tourists to our area.
During regular visiting hours, costumed interpreters share the culture and lives of the early Prestons. Patriarch Colonel William Preston was influential in the Revolutionary War, the settlement of southwest Virginia, and the opening up of land beyond the Appalachians for settlement.
He and wife Susanna sired a family whose legacy contributed mightily to the state and the nation for over a century. Examples include four Virginia governors (two born at Smithfield and one buried here), university founders (VMI and Virginia Tech), Congressmen, Senators, Cabinet members, and military leaders. Our Museum exhibits pieces from the early plantation, as well as Native American artifacts uncovered nearby. During special events Smithfield hosts blacksmiths, weavers, candle makers, metalworkers, crafters, herbalists, re-enactors, and storytellers to bring colonial times to life. Consequently, Smithfield is a favorite destination for school field trips, especially those grades involved in SOL testing.
The Foundation runs a streamlined operation, and as such employs a very small staff and relies mainly on volunteers to maintain and exhibit the property. Nevertheless, the expense of operations, including salary, office equipment, electricity, heating and cooling, and costs involved in maintenance and repair, total about $300 per day. A very popular gift is the sponsorship of one day’s operations, where the donor picks the date to be sponsored and usually does so in honor of someone or some event special to them. The Plantation then publicly recognizes that honor on the given day. Other popular forms of giving include becoming a member of the “Smithfield Patriots”, our support organization, at various levels. As a non-profit organization, all gifts to Smithfield Plantation are tax deductible. http://www.smithfieldplantation.org