The Castle event center

Published 7:22 pm Monday, December 31, 2018

Expansion, interior work to begin

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

Plans to transform the interior of the Windsor Castle manor house into an event center are moving forward, buoyed by other portions of the restoration project coming in under budget. 

Turning the manor house into an event center was always part of the overall plans, which were initially unveiled to the public in early 2017, following the formation of Historic Windsor Castle Restoration LLC in 2016. 

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

So far, the outbuildings have been restored and work is now underway on the exterior of the circa 1750 manor house. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

The entire project is being financed by a $1 million donation by Smithfield Foods and a pledge of $2 million in taxpayer money from the Town of Smithfield. The Windsor Castle Park Foundation has also raised about $200,000 for the project.  

So far, $1.3 million has been spent on the restoration effort, according to project manager Rick Bodson. 

Bodson said the Foods and the town contributions are not restricted to any specific use and have been applied to the $1.3 million spent so far. 

The LLC was formed to allow Smithfield Foods to receive historic tax credits on its contribution once the entire project is completed. The town owns the property, which is under a historic easement with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. 

Recently, a manor house committee was formed by Sue Ivy, president of the Windsor Castle Foundation and a member of Historic Windsor Castle Restoration LLC, to come up with a use for the interior of the structure, according to Bodson. Ivy is also a member of that committee. 

Plans include improvements to all three floors, said Ivy during a presentation to the Town Council at its December meeting.

The committee was seeking the “highest and best use,” she said, adding that the committee has “reasonable confidence” that the manor house would break even on an annual basis and be self-sustaining. 

Meanwhile, staffing needs and potential rental fees are to be discussed during budget discussions for fiscal 2020, said Ivy. 

The LLC will also be seeking a special use permit for the property, Ivy said. 

As for the plans, the basement area, referred to as a “gaming room,” would be available for rental, said Renee Rountree, who served as a facilitator for the manor house committee. 

The photo provided during the presentation showed a room with a pool table. 

The first floor would be turned into a “high end” meeting space and equipped with a catering kitchen, said Rountree. 

The second floor would be transformed into a bridal dressing and sitting area with an ensuite bathroom, said Rountree, adding that rental space would extend to outside the house.

The idea is to put the focus back on the manor house, she said. 

Other plans include overnight accommodations, according to Ivy, who initially spoke to the public buildings and welfare committee in November. 

Also included in the plans is interpretive signage at various spots on the property, such as the Colonial-era kitchen and smoke house, said Rountree. 

Ideally, the site would be ready for rental by December of next year, said Ivy. 


Members of the manor house committee

Sue Ivy, president Windsor Castle Foundation, Historic Windsor Castle Restoration LLC

Randy Pack, Smithfield Town Council member, president of Smithfield VA Events

Valerie Butler, Smithfield Town Council member

Milton Cook, former Smithfield Town Council member, Historic Windsor Castle Restoration LLC, Windsor Castle Park Foundation

Gina Ippolito, Director Smithfield VA Events, Windsor Castle Park Foundation

Judy Winslow, Isle of Wight County Director of Tourism, Smithfield VA Events Board member

Mark Hall, businessman

Rick Bodson, Historic Windsor Castle Restoration LLC, Smithfield 2020

Amy Novak, Smithfield Parks and Recreation Director, Smithfield VA Events ex-officio committee member

Brian Thrower, Smithfield Town Manager

Martha Russ, member of the Historic Windsor Castle Restoration LLC, Windsor Castle Park Foundation

Jennifer England, Director of the Isle of Wight County Museum {/mprestriction}