Preservation battle for Smithfield home: What is the future of Pierceville Farm?

(Walter Hildebrand/WAVY Photo)

SMITHFIELD, Va. (WAVY) — In Smithfield, a home that’s withstood the Revolutionary War and Civil War faces its biggest battle yet. The owner of the Pierceville house has asked to have it demolished and turned into a development.

The house has stood since 1730. The busted brick foundation and weathered walls look as bad as the shredded tarp meant to protect it. At first glance, you wonder: Who wouldn’t want to demolish it?

“It’s older than Mount Vernon,” Mark Gay said. “I guess that’s the best way to put it. Why wouldn’t we do this?”

Photos: Historic Pierceville Manor

Gay and the rest of Preserve Smithfield see beyond the house and barns that time seems to have forgotten.

“We found out this goes back to the King of England’s land grant to Joseph Cobb in 1635,” he said.

A colony of feral cats resides in the barns and the home is deteriorated inside and out. The owner had to leave several years ago and made plans to demolish it and the broken down barns, then replace them with a housing development.

“The town council rightly voted 7-0 two weeks ago to deny razing of this house and these barns,” Gay said.

This group spearheaded the movement to stop demolition, but that’s as far as they’ve gotten.

Residents fight to save historic property from development

“The town has the legal right to impose a lean on the property and affect the repairs,” Gay explained.

So far, nothing has been done. Gay and his group continue to push forward with a dream of a preserved Pierceville farm. They imagine a preserved farm in a similar way to Colonial Williamsburg — a place to teach about life back in the Colonial days.

“We believe this is a very valuable piece of our colonial history,” he explained.

While they wait for a move to be made by the town, the house that has sat through nearly three centuries continues to deteriorate. They wonder: How long can these walls stand against the elements?

10 On Your Side called the attorney for the owner of Pierceville; he did not immediately return our call.