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In 1779, the E. M. Todd Company opened the first meat packing operation in the country and began producing the traditional local specialty, Smithfield hams. Smithfield was established in 1749 as a port on the Pagan River and platted as a town of small farmsteads, on part of the plantation owned by Arthur Smith. The Isle of Wight County Court moved here in 1752. As the county's port, Smithfield had a large export trade with England and the West Indies. The peanut industry has also been a mainstay of the Smithfield economy since the late nineteenth century. The merchants who made their money in these industries built some of Smithfield's most opulent houses. In 1921 a disastrous fire swept along the wharf, wiping out many local businesses and older commercial structures. The buildings of major interest are located along Main Street, perpendicular to Church Street, which parallels the river.

Writing Credits

Richard Guy Wilson et al.


What's Nearby


Richard Guy Wilson et al., "Smithfield", [Smithfield, Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Virginia: Tidewater and Piedmont, Richard Guy Wilson and contributors. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002, 472-472.

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