Today, Smithfield is an historic house museum, but first it was a home. It must have been a noisy one in 1774 when William and Susanna Smith Preston’s 12 children were young, especially in winter, when they were inside much of the time. In their schoolroom on the house’s main level, they recited lessons. Other times they ran through the house on its hard wooden floors, shouting, laughing, crying and singing.
Smithfield was called a plantation, the Irish word for large farm. In warm weather, most activity was outdoors. Slaves and European indentured servants worked the plantation, where garden vegetables and crops were grown. Alone on the Virginia Frontier, the Prestons had to provide for themselves all
their basic necessities.
In the lower level of the house, pots clanged in the winter kitchen as slaves of African descent cooked over a large, sizzling fire, then carried meals up a narrow wooden staircase to serve the family above.
Visitors came to Smithfield to talk politics or business with William Preston, or sometimes, to attend a social gathering where guests danced and visited with each other. When the Colonies declared independence from England, Colonel Preston led troops in support of the Revolution. The stockade fence around the home protected the Preston family from Tory neighbors, those who were loyal to England.
Take a virtual tour. Due to the constraints of space, please remember that some of the interpretative structures would not have been located in the same proximity to the Manor House in 1774 as they are today.
1000 Smithfield Plantation Road, Blacksburg, VA 24060 540.231.3947 email@example.com