Wednesday, July 8th, 2020

Christmas in Smithfield Story


CHRISTMAS IN SMITHFIELD

Antique show and home tours make the holiday season bright

by Allison T. Williams


The Chapman House, beautifully decorated for Christmas,  <BR>will be featured on Smithfield’s Historic Home Tour

The Chapman House, beautifully decorated for Christmas,
will be featured on Smithfield’s Historic Home Tour

To visit Smithfield is to feel as if one has stepped back in time. The beautifully restored mansions along Church Street display the elegance of America’s Gilded Age. The quaint shops, restaurants, and historic buildings lining Main Street bring to mind a Norman Rockwell painting. While other Hampton Roads cities are blessed with historic landmarks, Smithfield is unique. Its concentrated blend of authentic Colonial buildings, Victorian homes, and shops built at the dawn of the 20th century evokes an idealized image of small-town American life.  First-time visitors from Norfolk, Virginia Beach, and Chesapeake are often stunned to discover this quaint gem of a town, conveniently located in Hampton Roads' own backyard.

That gem never sparkles more brightly than during December when Smithfield celebrates Christmas with a generous dollop of nostalgia. An antiques show, tours of several beautiful historic homes, a Christmas street market, a holiday parade, Santa Claus, concerts, plays, and other events hosted by church and civic groups, make Smithfield an ideal place for creating beautiful holiday memories.

The weekend of December 6–8 is the highlight of Christmas in Smithfield. Festivities include a tree-lighting ceremony, an Evening with St. Nick, Colonial Christmas Concerts at Historic St. Luke’s Church, a Sunday Morning Breakfast with Santa, wreath-making workshops, the town’s annual antiques show, and its historic homes tour.

Twenty-five antique dealers from across the Mid-Atlantic region will set up shop for the Antiques Show, held in the Smithfield Center from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

With dealers coming from Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, and Maryland, organizer Trey Gwaltney says that a wide variety of experts specializing in jewelry, glass, primitive arts, and furniture will be on hand.

Antiques show patrons will be able to win prizes in St. Nick’s Picks—a raffle that runs through the weekend. Each dealer has donated one item, which will be on display during the event. Each admission ticket comes with a free St. Nick’s Pick ticket, and more can be purchased at the event. Participants play by dropping their ticket in the box in front of the prize they would like to win.

Dealers Lisa and Bob Vickers, owners of V & V Antique and Estate Sales in Chesapeake, look forward to returning to the Smithfield show every holiday season.

“We love it,” Lisa Vickers smiles. “Smithfield is a wonderful community, and it’s even more special at this time of year. We love the customers as well as the hospitality of the town.”

The Vickers offer a variety of vintage merchandise, including collectible Christmas items, estate jewelry, coins, animal figurines, and a few small pieces of furniture.

Thomas Welch, the owner of Chesapeake House Antiques, says the Smithfield Antiques Show is one of only two local shows in which he participates.


“The antique show,
coupled with the historic home tour
or one of the town’s other Christmas events,
makes a visit to Smithfield
the perfect day trip.”

—Trey Gwaltney


“The Smithfield show offers a great opportunity to purchase unique Christmas gifts,” says Thomas, who specializes in early Americana-period fine arts and furniture. “But the real reason I do this show is that I have great affection for the cause it supports: raising money for the original Isle of Wight Courthouse.”

Proceeds from both the antique show and the home tour are earmarked for the historic Isle of Wight Courthouse. An impressive example of British Colonial-era red-brick architecture, the courthouse has graced Smithfield’s Main Street since 1750. Open to the public and staffed by volunteer docents, the courthouse offers tours regularly. Each year, local performers reenact an authentic 18th century trial within the historic structure.


Dozens of antique dealers from across the Mid-Atlantic region <BR>will set up shop for the Smithfield Antique Show,  <BR>held in the  Smithfield Center on Saturday and Sunday,  December 7 and 8.

Dozens of antique dealers from across the Mid-Atlantic region
will set up shop for the Smithfield Antique Show,
held in the Smithfield Center on Saturday and Sunday, December 7 and 8.


Thomas says that he—and most people in the antique business—appreciate the efforts of Smithfield to preserve its history. “We live in the area in which our country was born, so we need to support any effort to save these old structures. They require constant work and maintenance.”

The 1750 Courthouse recently underwent $200,000 in building repairs. Historic Smithfield Inc., which owns the building, has future plans that include new interpretive displays and construction of an outbuilding appropriate to the period. According to Trey Gwaltney, the festive weekend typically raises around $15,000 annually for the courthouse.

“The antique show, coupled with the historic home tour or one of the town’s other Christmas events, makes a visit to Smithfield the perfect day trip,” Trey says. “With historic bed-and-breakfasts on Main Street and the Smithfield Station on the Pagan River—not to mention local motels—Smithfield can also be an ideal weekend getaway. You might spend an hour or two at the antique show, and then you will have time to take the house tour and do a little shopping downtown. Tickets to the antique show are good for both Saturday and Sunday, which is convenient if people want to think about a purchase overnight or need to measure a space before investing in a piece of furniture.”

The houses featured on this year’s Historic Home Tour will include the Andrew Mackie House—built around 1758, the King-Atkinson House—built around 1795, and the Chapman House—built around 1892.

“It’s an extra draw to see the interiors of these historic gems decorated in their holiday’s finery,” says Lois Tokarz, spokeswoman for Smithfield/Isle of Wight tourism office. The town is particularly excited about one of the tour’s featured homes that has been renovated since being featured on HGTV’s “House Hunters” last year.

On the weekend of December 6 and 7, visitors can also ​enjoy a leisurely ride in a festive holiday horse-drawn carriage through charming downtown Smithfield. And no stroll down Smithfield’s Main Street would be complete without visiting the specialty boutiques, art galleries, Christmas store, bakeries, restaurants, inn, brewery, and old-fashioned ice cream shop found there.

Lois is optimistic that Christmas in Smithfield will draw record crowds this year.

“Historically, a lot of Isle of Wight residents attend our Christmas events,” Trey Gwaltney observes. “We also draw a lot of people from the Peninsula and from as far away as Williamsburg and Richmond.”

This year, Trey and Lois hope that more Southside residents will discover the quaint charm of their town and decide to “come home” to Smithfield this Christmas.




Smithfield Antique Show

220 N. Church Street
Smithfield, VA 23430

757-357-5182
www.christmasinsmithfield.com