Smfd. to buy Times building

Published 3:12 am Wednesday, December 11, 2019

By Diana McFarland


The Town of Smithfield has entered into a contract to purchase The Smithfield Times building and grounds, located in the center of Main Street in the historic district. 

A contract was signed Friday and the news was announced during the annual Christmas tree lighting, held, fittingly, at what is known locally as “Times Square.” 

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The deal is expected to close March 1, said former Smithfield Times Editor and Publisher John Edwards, who along with his wife, Anne, owns the building. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

The sale of the 3,114-square-foot building follows the sale of the newspaper to Smithfield Newsmedia LLC. New Publisher Steve Stewart said the newspaper, which continues to occupy the building on a short-term lease, will work with the town and the Edwardses on an orderly transition.

“At the point that the town is ready to convert the building to its new permanent use, we will relocate to another office space in Smithfield,” Stewart said. “That move will not alter our commitment to publishing a first-rate community newspaper for the people of Isle of Wight and Surry counties.” 

Edwards said that he and his wife, Anne, learned during the sales process that newspaper buyers don’t buy buildings these days, so it seemed appropriate to offer the property to the town. 

The grassy lawn and gazebo belongs to the community, said Edwards. 

Smithfield Mayor Carter Williams said “Times Square” and the gazebo will still be the location for the annual Christmas tree lighting and the popular Summer Concert Series. 

“We hope to enhance that and make it better,” said Williams of the series. 

Edwards said he would continue to organize the series for the upcoming season. Stewart pledged the newspaper’s ongoing support of community events on the property, even after the newspaper office relocates. 

The lawn and gazebo have also been popular areas for craft fairs and other events. 

Currently, the town has no definite plans for the building, said interim Smithfield Town Manager Sanford “Sandy” Wanner.