This week the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors approved a resolution to take responsibility for the preservation of Historic Smithfield, a Colonial living history museum surrounded by the university.
Monday’s 13-0 vote extended a temporary historic preservation easement held by Tech since 2014. University board member Debbie Petrine abstained from the vote.
Tech took on the responsibility in 2014 at the request of Preservation Virginia, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of the state’s historic structures and sites.
That same year, Preservation Virginia transferred ownership of the property to the Smithfield-Preston Foundation, a nonprofit established in 1996 to raise funds for upkeep of the property. Today the foundation manages day-to-day operations and is responsible for the museum’s upkeep.
Petrine said she abstained from the vote because she serves on the Smithfield-Preston Foundation Board of Directors.
In a letter, foundation Board President William “Bill” Foster supported Tech’s holding of the easement in perpetuity. Foster wrote that Tech staff has consistently met the requirement that it conduct annual inspections of the historic buildings and grounds, which date to 1774.
Smithfield was a large plantation established on the Appalachian frontier by the American patriot family of Col. William Preston, and his wife, Susanna. Their descendants became governors of Virginia and established the college that became Tech.
Visitors may tour a 13-acre re-creation of life on the edge of 18th-century European settlement that today is surrounded by the campus.
Preservation Virginia, formerly known as the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, rescued Smithfield from neglect in 1964 and owned and operated it for 50 years.
Staff writer Robby Korth contributed to this report.