Barn behind Cure razed

Published 5:20 pm Monday, February 5, 2024

Smithfield Foods has torn down the dilapidated barn on company-owned land behind Cure Coffeehouse on North Church Street.

The Jan. 17 demolition came six weeks after the company, on Dec. 5, persuaded Smithfield’s Town Council to overrule its Board of Historic and Architectural Review’s denial of permission to raze the structure.

The seven-member BHAR had opposed the demolition on grounds that the barn qualified as a historic structure due to its dating to the 1880s, though Smithfield Foods contended the 1,144-square-foot barn had deteriorated to a point where it no longer had any historic value and was unsafe.

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As a concession to secure the council’s vote, Smithfield Foods had offered the Isle of Wight County Museum first pick of any fixtures and hardware in the barn “reasonably able to be preserved.” To date, the company has turned over a copper stencil for flour from Windsor Castle Farm, two sets of sliding barn door hardware, a gas lamp lighter and a glass door with a transom window. The stencil is believed to date to the late 1800s.

These objects are a wonderful addition to the museum’s collection and enable us to tell a deeper story of Smithfield’s past,” said Museum Director Jennifer England. “The flour stencil is of particular interest as we did not have one in the collection. Plenty of stencils were used for crates and packages of produce, hams and other items from various farms, mills and ham companies up until, at least, the 1990s. We have seen evidence of a stencil that was used for Windsor Castle Farm’s sweet potatoes, and we now know that there were many different types of stencils used for various products from multiple locations on that particular farm.”

The oil lamplighter “tells the story of how public street lighting has evolved here in Smithfield” while the door and shutter “will be placed with some of the other former ham company items we have like doors, typing tables and signage,” England said.

England said the museum has a long-range exhibit plan for its main gallery to include the recently donated hardware to better tell the agricultural and industrial history of the county.

“We are excited about these recent donations from Smithfield Foods and look forward to sharing them with the public in the near future,” England said.

Smithfield Vice President of Corporate Affairs Jim Monroe said some of the barn’s lumber was also salvaged and given to interested parties in town. Randy Pack, co-owner of Smithfield Station restaurant, hotel and marina, confirmed he’d obtained some doors and a few boards.

Pack, who’s in negotiations with former Smithfield Foods vice president-turned-developer Joseph Luter IV to open a restaurant in Luter’s planned Grange at 10Main development at the western edge of the town’s historic district, said if his plans for the Grange restaurant move forward, he’ll try to incorporate the salvaged material into the design.

“We also have some drawings, but those are still being evaluated,” Monroe said.

“We will be receiving blueprints and other paper documents from Smithfield Foods in the early spring,” England said. “Those will be digitized and then moved into flat acid-free storage.”