Colonel William Preston built historic Smithfield Plantation in 1774 as his family home – and what a family!
Preston’s descendants include four Virginia governors, four US senators, a US Secretary of the Navy, a US Secretary of War, and numerous legislators, educators, and military leaders. Even Virginia Tech, which the Historic house is adjacent to, evolved from an institute started by the Preston family. You would be hard pressed to find many other American families with so large a collection of distinguished descendants.
The family owned the plantation for almost 200 years before donating it to Virginia Tech. This agreement only lasted for a short period of time, however. When the great-great granddaughter of Colonel William Preston discovered that the college was using the historic house to store hay and pigs, she rescinded the offer.
Instead, she presented her family home to the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities. The associaten restored the house and the Historic Smithfield Plantation Museum was born.
Visiting Historic Smithfield
Visitors to Smithfield will discover an unusually spacious and L-shaped, tidewater plantation style home with high ceilings. Details like glazed windows and Chinese Chippendale railings reveal a refined sense belied by the home’s simple exterior.
A tour reveals the ground floor, below stairs, and a bedroom on the upper floor. You’ll marvel at the beautiful wide plank wood floors, raised panel wainscoting, carved panel fireplace, and other rich details.
Other buildings on the property include a blacksmith shop, a weaver’s cabin, miller’s cabin, smokehouse, cider house, and the ruins of a grist mill. Some of the buildings are historical, others have been constructed to help more fully depict late 18th century life.
Guided tours of the property include costumed interpreters who will relate for you what 18th century plantation life was like. You may see demonstrations of blacksmithing, weaving, and more.
Historic Smithfield Plantation Home
Smithfield Plantation is located at 1000 Smithfield Plantation Road, Blacksburg, VA 24060, adjacent to the Virginia Tech campus.
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