Smithfield in bloom

Published 9:52 pm Friday, January 11, 2013

Historic houses to be open during Garden Week

Smithfield is inviting folks to visit the town during Virginia Historic Garden Week beginning April 20, when six private historic homes and gardens will be opened to the public.

The town’s garden week theme is “Smithfield: Simply Southern,” and tours will operate from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., a news release states.

Mansion on Main Bed and Breakfast, “a showplace Victorian-era home … that stands proudly on the corner of original colonial roads,” will be one of six Smithfield homes open to the public for Virginia Historic Garden Week in April.

Tickets cost $35 on the day or $30 in advance, while admission to a single featured home and garden is $15. Tours for ages 6 to 12 are $17, and ages 5 and under are free.

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“We have recently had two national awards for our charming historic district,” said Lois Tokarz, marketing and public relations manager with the Smithfield & Isle of Wight Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“When people think of Smithfield, they think of ham, of course, but they also think of the gorgeous Victorian homes and gardens — and it isn’t just Victorian, there’s also 18th and 19th century Colonial, Federal and Georgian homes.”

The six featured homes include The Berryman Mansion, “a Colonial Revival house with Victorian influences that sits atop an elevated property overlooking the Pagan River.” It features an English garden with informal landscaping and pathways, according to the release.

The Sinclair-Hines House, meanwhile, is described as “a charming 1758 weatherboard home, once the residence of Privateer Captain John Sinclair.” It gives an expansive view of the Pagan River and has “a lovely hillside garden (with) crape myrtles, English boxwood, Japanese maples, cariole, and flowering plants … indicative of the owners’ love of gardening.”

Then there’s the Old Library, built in 1892. Meticulously renovated several times, it is now “an interesting mix of popular late 19th- and early 20th-century styles,” with “a lovely garden and extensive landscaping.”

The Wentworth-Barrett House “boasts an intimate and charming boxwood garden and

vegetable gardens. The garage, garden shed, well house, and rabbit hutch were based on

18th-century examples and the rear of the property offers an expansive view of the Pagan

River below.”

Mansion on Main Bed and Breakfast is described as “a showplace Victorian-era home … that stands proudly on the corner of original colonial roads,” the garden behind “flourishing with native flowers and plants.”

Stephie Broadwater, co-chair of the Nansemond River Garden Club, organizer of the tour with the Elizabeth River Garden Club, gave particular mention to the Parker-Todd House. “It was the original home of Captain Todd, who helped bring the curing of ham to Smithfield,” she said.

The house was “empty for years” before a family bought it and “spent several years researching the history … and carefully renovating the home to be true to that history.”

Smithfield was last included in Historic Garden Week in 1989, Broadwater said. “We are thrilled” to be included again, she said. “We have some homes that have not been open to the public for a long time.”

Tour tickets can be purchased on the day at any of the included homes with cash or

check payable to NRGC.

Advance tickets are available at or, beginning March 1,  at Smithfield & Isle of Wight Convention & Visitor Bureau, 319 Main St.; in Suffolk at A. Dodson’s, 2948 Bridge Road; in Portsmouth at Bowman’s Garden Center, 315 Green St., and Way Back Yonder Antiques, 620 High St.; and from Chesapeake’s 18th Century Merchant, 3591 Forest Haven Lane.

Boxed lunches for $12.50 must be reserved and purchased by April 6 by calling 357-3367 or emailing

A limited number of box lunches will be available the day of the tour at St. Luke’s Church, and a list of restaurants also open for luncheon is available at, where information on Garden Week activities in Smithfield can also be found.