History of the Inn

“He was a very valiant man who first ventured on eating oysters.”

~ James I

Our Past

Here’s one for the books. The Smithfield Inn, built in 1752, is older than The Alamo or even Independence Hall in Philadelphia. George Washington slept here (No really, he did.) Here’s the whole amazing story.

At the time of groundbreaking, Smithfield’s bustling wharf harbor had become a popular destination for clipper ships bringing goods from the old world to the new. The reason? They could return loaded down with two new world delicacies—the hams and peanuts that have made Smithfield world famous.

To serve these travelers and others coming over the main stagecoach route from Norfolk to Richmond and eventually steamboat and motorcar, the original residence was converted to an Inn and Tavern in 1759. Thus began over 250 years of southern hospitality and charm that still defines the “Old Inn on Main Street”.

Notable changes along the way included raising the roof to a full second story in 1870, part of bringing the Inn back from disrepair after the Civil War, and a major renovation by the Sykes family in 1922, adding the long kitchen and dining room wing and enlarging the porch across the entire front. For 40 years the Sykes Inn was known for its signature home cooked meals and relaxed atmosphere.

Today the owner of the Smithfield Inn, Smithfield Foods, welcome you to a new Smithfield Inn, beautifully renovated yet, as always, steeped in tradition and charm reminiscent of simpler times in the genteel old South.