Letters to the editor – February 24th, 2016
Published 7:05 pm Tuesday, February 23, 2016
Repurpose the house
Editor, Smithfield Times:
We should repurpose and reuse our existing historic structures rather than destroy them.
It has been suggested that we demolish the ca. 1842 Dr. Jordan Wombwell House to make way for a baseball field. Although this building may not technically be in the “Smithfield Historic District” it is still within the town’s municipal border and also in the greater historic “district” of Isle of Wight County. The extensive local history this small home represents belongs to all of us.
This well-built and structurally sound home of traditional “tidewater cottage” architecture, should be refurbished and “repurposed” as on-site office space for the various athletic associations (Windsor, Zuni, Smithfield, etc.) who wish to use the sports complex to be constructed on the historic Wombwell site.
Thomas Wombwell (pronounced “Wom-bul”) together with three others, patented 1,100 acres here in 1647. He was also our Clerk of the Court from 1645-1656. As one of the founding families of our county, the Wombwells were prominent in county affairs as extensive landholders, professionals, businessmen and farmers for over 200 years and through the late 19th century.
Although there is currently no Wombwell in our county phone book, the large extended family considers Isle of Wight County their “roots” and still venerates their ancestors by periodic visits to the county. These visits have included stops at the “Dr. Wombwell House” as the last remaining structural vestige of their family’s heritage here.
I might also add that proper excavation and removal of the old Wombwell family cemetery in back of the house would be vastly more expensive then simply preserving and maintaining it in situ.
Once historic landmarks, like the Wombwell House and others, disappear, they and the visual history they represent are gone forever from the public consciousness. If we remain true to the legacy of others who have laid the foundations for us to build on, our own descendants may well honor us for preserving that heritage for future generations.
Editor, Smithfield Times
Diana McFarland deserves congratulations on her well-written article about the Dr. Jordan Wombwell house in last week’s Smithfield Times. Now I must ask, “Didn’t the Town Council learn anything from the talks about Pierceville?” What part of historic isn’t clear? Does the definition have to be repeated? Smithfield is a historic town; therefore, its citizens and council members are obligated to preserve ALL the historic houses, not just a few selected structures. A house does not have to be in the historic district to be worthy of saving.
The sports complex is a wonderful plan, but if the developers cannot work around a small 1840s cottage with a documented grave site, then a new company should be sought. Surely out of 110 acres purchased, an acre for the Wombwell house could be left alone. What gives the town the right to demolish the history and heritage of the area? There is certainly enough money with this complex to put this house in livable condition. It could then be rented and would provide another source of revenue. If there is paranormal activity, destroy the house and see what happens. You could have a multimillion-dollar sports complex that is not usable.
Princess of WC Park
Editor, Smithfield Times
We all love our pets. Pets are family, and while Princess of Windsor Castle Park had her own home and family, she also became like family to many of the nature lovers who use the park. You may have seen an article about the soft-bellied, black cat, which described her love for the park and the people who enjoyed it. Often times her family would put out the word that she was missing because a concerned citizen thought she was lost and would take her home, when really she was there to greet everyone. She was a very special cat with a cute collar and only one rule — do not pick her up. Otherwise, she would meow and paw and twist on her back waiting for a belly scratch.
Tragically, she was killed by a vicious and unleashed dog on the walk path. This letter is to put closure to those park users who knew Princess, but did not know her fate, to encourage animal lovers to leash their dogs and to discourage pet owners from bringing dangerous dogs to the park in the first place. What if it had been your dog that was killed on the walk path? What if it had been a small child?
Let’s continue to use the beautiful park and remember Princess for all the sweet memories she left behind.
Studio a ‘class act’
Editor, Smithfield Times
Living in a small town has so many benefits, among them, the opportunity to be surrounded by small businesses. Smithfield is particularly honored to have numerous small businesses that support the community in many different ways. I’d like to recognize one small business in particular that makes great efforts to support Smithfield, Southside Ballet Studio owned and operated by Meredith Parks.
Southside Ballet Studio is a growing dance studio that recently moved across town to a new location. Children, youth and adults learn exceptional dance technique with Meredith and her teachers. More importantly, however, students learn responsibility, teamwork, work ethic and countless other life skills. They earned an impressive award at the 2016 On Stage America dance competition in Virginia Beach. The studio as a whole was awarded the “Class Act” award for their age appropriate costumes, music and choreography.
What many folks probably don’t know about Southside Ballet Studio is their dedication to the community. Southside dancers perform at Relay for Life events to help raise money for cancer research. Dancers perform at our local nursing home as well as a nursing home in Newport News to entertain the residents and improve their quality of life. They performed at Isle of Wight Academy’s large fundraiser in the fall. Dancers perform at local church services and special events to support their missions.
Meredith personally taught a large group of Girl Scouts in a special session as they pursued a dancing badge. The studio is supporting a young dancer as she gathers supplies for Mission of Hope, our local homeless shelter. The studio is also supporting many fundraisers aimed at paying medical bills for a dancer at another studio in Smithfield. I am certain there are even more ways that this studio has given back to the community throughout the years.
It’s a privilege to live in a small town that values businesses like Southside Ballet Studio. They are definitely a “class act.” I would like to thank Meredith for setting a fine example for our children.