Smithfield (Blacksburg, Virginia)
|Nearest city||Blacksburg, Virginia|
|Area||4.5 acres (1.8 ha)|
|Governing body||Preservation Virginia|
|NRHP Reference #||69000261|
|Added to NRHP||November 12, 1969|
|Designated VLR||November 5, 1968|
Smithfield is a plantation outside Blacksburg, Virginia built from 1772 to 1774 as a home by Col. William Preston. It was the birthplace of two Virginia Governors: James Patton Preston and John B. Floyd. The house remained a family home until 1959 when the home was donated to the APVA.
The plantation site was part of 120,000 acres originally granted to James Patton by the British Crown. Patton died in an Indian massacre in 1755. The property passed to Patton's nephew, Colonel William Preston who built the house from 1772 to 1774. Preston was an important colonial political figure, and may have been the author of the Fincastle Resolutions. He remained on the property, despite frequent threats from nearby Tories, Loyalists and Native Americans and the disruptions of the American Revolutionary War until his death from a stroke at a 1783 local militia muster.
The property then passed to his wife, Susanna Smith Preston, who lived there until her death forty years later.
James Patton Preston, Virginia Governor, inherited the plantation from his mother. It was also the birthplace and home of his son, William Ballard Preston, who worked with Abraham Lincoln in the 1840s in Congress as part of a group of legislators known as "the Young Indians," and later, reluctantly, authored Virginia's Articles of Secession in 1861. Descendants of William and Susanna Preston included four Virginia Governors -- James Patton Preston, John Floyd, James McDowell, and John Buchanan Floyd—and numerous other legislators. In addition, descendants were instrumental in the founding and growth of several universities, including Virginia Tech, VMI, and University of South Carolina.
The house itself is L-shaped, with high ceilings and large rooms. The detailing and proportions of the house are unusual for frontier homes. More unusually, the master bedroom is placed between the parlor and the dining room on the first floor, implying that Preston wanted to impress his guests with his ornate bedroom furniture.
Preservation Virginia acquired the property in 1959 as a gift from Janie Preston Boulware Lamb, a descendant of Revolutionary War Patriot leader Colonel William Preston. With help from Preservation Virginia and the Virginia Daughters of the American Revolution, the property was restored and opened to the public in 1964. The rooms of the house are furnished with eighteenth and nineteenth century Decorative arts furniture, portraits and other items, while the basement level Museum contains a variety of artifacts found on-site, including Native American relics. The landscape includes an eighteenth century kitchen garden tended by volunteers. The plantation is open for tours April through the first week in December.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13.
- "Virginia Landmarks Register". Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Retrieved 5 June 2013.
- Preserving Virginia 1889-1989: Centennial Pictorial. Virginia: The Art Band. 1989. p. 17.
- "Smithfield: A Brief History". Smithfield. Retrieved 30 June 2011.
- "Smithfield Plantation". Preservation Virginia. Retrieved 30 June 2011.
- Historic Smithfield Plantation - official site