Information on living there

By Susan Haynes
July 25, 2005
Taunya Tae Waxham

Setting: Nestled in a crook overlooking the Pagan River,Smithfield has escaped the congestion of the Hampton Roads porttowns―Newport News, Norfolk, and Portsmouth. Yet Norfolk'sinternational airport lies only 35 minutes away; Virginia Beach, 50minutes.

Attractions: Friends and neighbors enjoy a strong sense ofsmall-town life. It's possible to live here serenely and work forthe world's largest naval base, in Norfolk. Entrepreneurial spiritis applauded. History and architecture buffs revel in the presenceof colonial America. The climate brings Atlantic breezes but nobrutal winters.

Drawbacks: A maritime community once teeming with watermen,Smithfield has not escaped the impact of marine habitat decline andrelated problems. Opportunities are limited for young people todevelop careers here. Residents wrestle with development prospectsthat some say threaten the historic ambience.

Housing Options: Two-story brick or frame homes, some datingfrom the 1700s, grace Main Street neighborhoods. Gatling Pointe andCypress Creek offer new upscale homes and pristine landscaping. InIsle of Wight County, Smithfield is the gateway to fertile farmlandfor roomy homeplaces.

What It Costs: Historic properties range from $200,000 to$2.5 million. With a marina and other amenities, Gatling Pointeproperties go for $300,000 to $1 million; Cypress Creek golf-coursehomes start at $500,000. Small fixer-uppers near Smithfield can befound for $80,000. Monthly rental for a three-bedroom, two-bathhouse can be $1,000.

Your Next-door Neighbors: Early retirees embarking on secondcareers. A young military couple back from European assignment. Afamily of watermen. A Northern transplant starting a winery.Graphic designers. Smithfield Inn's chef. Smithfield Foodsexecutives. A docent from the Isle of Wight Museum. An antiquesauctioneer. A College of William & Mary professor.

How You'd Spend Your Free Time: Sailing. Biking out toDarden's Country Store for delicious cured ham. Driving to Surreyfor a ferry hop to Williamsburg to cheer William & Mary teams.Attending George Washington and Thomas Jefferson re-enactments atthe Old Courthouse of 1750. Taking houseguests to St. Luke's, thenation's only surviving original-brick Gothic church.

(published September 2005)