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Downtown Smithfield adds walking tour

Downtown Smithfield now has a walking tour that highlights historical buildings, houses and monuments.

The Johnston County Visitors Bureau, with help from the Johnston County Heritage Center, has designed and printed a brochure about the tour. The brochure includes a map of downtown with each stop numbered. In addition, the Heritage Center has provided notes on the historical relevancy of each site. Points of interest like parking, visitor information, dining options and the Ava Gardner Museum are also pictured on the map.

Todd Johnson is a historian and director of the Heritage Center. “Taking the Historic Smithfield Walking Tour is not only a healthy activity but will teach you about our town’s history going back to colonial times,” he said.

Johnson noted that Smithfield offers a variety of architectural styles, including Greek Revival, Italianate, Queen Anne, Second Empire, Colonial Revival and Gothic Revival. Several buildings on the tour have stood since the Civil War, and each one has its own story to tell.

The purpose of creating guides like this one is to showcase the stories and heritage of historical towns like Smithfield, the Visitors Bureau said. The walking tour adds to the options of things visitors to Smithfield can do and encourages them to discover local shops and restaurants along the way.

With fall approaching and the evenings cooling off, visitors and locals alike can explore the walking route for themselves. The walking tour offers a chance to discover something about Smithfield. For example, the portion of the Smithfield courthouse facing Market Street was built in 1921, but the land that it stands on has been home to courthouses since the late 1700s. That’s more than three centuries of law and order in one location.

To learn more about these places or to pick up a brochure for a self-guided tour, drop by theHeritage Center, 241 E. Market St., anytime between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Or download an electronic version of the walking tour guide on the Visitors Bureau website.

If you’ve got friends or family coming into town, or you’re looking for an activity to go with your next office or corporate event, schedule a guided tour of the same route. To schedule a tour, call the Johnston County Heritage Center at 919-934-2836 or send an email to

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