Thanks to many for preservation effort

Published 5:52 pm Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

The Isle of Wight County Historical Society (IWCHS) regrets we were unable to negotiate a mutually beneficial partnership with the Town of Smithfield to preserve the historic “Dr. Jordan Wombwell House” for future generations.

We understand the town council’s positions and respect their decision-making process. We especially appreciate the time and effort expended on this project by Mayor Carter Williams, the Town Council, Amy Novak and Mr. Bill Riddick, the town attorney. We are grateful for the opportunity given us to access this town property, conduct historic research and develop a preservation plan.

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Over the past two years, the IWCHS has devoted many volunteer hours and funds to conduct research, clear overgrowth of vines and vegetation, remove Dumpster loads of trash, repair weather damage and stabilize this historic house. Funded research included an architectural review by Virginia Department of Historic Resources Senior Architectural Historian Marc C. Wagner and his team and also by a team headed by Jeff E. Klee of The Shirley and Richard Roberts Architectural Historian Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

Additional review and planning for grants was done by the Commonwealth Preservation Group. Also funded by the IWCHS were aerial drone overviews and a search for graves by ground-penetrating radar.

We were also fortunate to work with George Wombwell, a descendant of Dr. Jordan Wombwell, who had the house built in the 1830s and who, himself, was a direct descendant of Thomas Wombwell, the first clerk of courts of Isle of Wight County, 1645 to 1656. A Wombwell family cemetery is on the property but not yet found.

A 2018 letter from Marc C. Wagner to the Town of Smithfield stated: “The Wombwell House presents a great opportunity for the Town to promote creative and adaptive reuses of buildings and set a solid example for community historic preservation. We encourage the Town to take this opportunity to maintain a high standard for Certified Local Government stewardship. The Virginia Department of Historic Resources strongly endorses the preservation of Wombwell House, and we hope the Town of Smithfield undertakes careful consideration of its stewardship of this historic property.”

We express again the gratitude of the IWCHS Board and society members to the Town of Smithfield for providing access to the property. We have been overwhelmed by and are grateful for the support from the community and nearby counties.


Carolyn A. Keen


Isle of Wight County Historical Society