Preservation topic of meeting

Published 10:46 pm Friday, December 28, 2018

The preservation of historic places will be the topic of the Isle of Wight County Historical Society meeting on Jan. 27.

The meeting will feature a special guest speaker, Justin Sarafin, the statewide director of preservation initiatives and engagement at Preservation Virginia, a nonprofit organization in its 129th year of existence.

Local historian Carolyn Keen said she is especially pleased Sarafin will be speaking, because he can help local people take action to save or record historic properties that are in danger of being lost.

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“I want the people not just from Isle of Wight but Sussex, Surry, Southampton — they’re all losing these beautiful buildings and we’ve got to do something about it,” Keen said. “I’m trying to educate people what’s out there and how you go about doing it. These organizations are there to support us, but a lot of people don’t know about it.”

Keen said there is an effort under way to save the Doctor Jordan Wombwell House, located at 888 Main St. in Smithfield. It is set to be demolished, but Keen believes it is significant.

It’s built in the traditional, vernacular Tidewater Cottage style and named for the town’s first known resident physician, according to a petition circulated to gain support for the home. A recent investigation by the senior historian of the Eastern Region Preservation Office of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources indicates a construction date circa 1820, making it one of the older and more significant homes in Smithfield. Additionally, documents and photographs indicate that a Wombwell family cemetery may be located very close to the house.

In Carrollton, the building known as “Carroll’s Shop,” after Samuel Carroll, is also deteriorated. Carrollton was named after Carroll, who built it in the early 19th century, according to the “Historic Isle of Wight” book. The home has served as a U.S. Post Office, a country store, a bar and a residence.

Keen said January’s meeting will be a dual presentation, with Sarafin talking about historic preservation and Keen educating local people on houses in danger, like the Wombwell House and Carroll’s Shop, as well as homes that have already been lost.

“We’re losing so much,” Keen said. “I’m hoping it will have some profound effect on some of them. They’re beautiful structures, and some of them have historic families and values to them.”

Keen said houses that can’t be saved should at least be recorded for posterity by photography and other means.

“If we can’t save them, we’ve got to record them,” she said.

The meeting at 2 p.m. Jan. 27 is open to all interested in preservation and local history. It will take place at the Isle of Wight Ruritan Club, 17011 Courthouse Highway, Windsor. Visit or email Keen at for more information.