Smithfield, North Carolina (NC)
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Smithfield - From Revolutionary History to the County Seat of Johnston County
The home of the Ham & Yam Festival, Smithfield, N.C., is the county seat of Johnston County. Smithfield's 11.4-square miles features 60 miles of streets and a population of over 12,000 (according to July 2006 data). Quite a difference from 1777 when the town was chartered as Smithfield, and until then, widely known in North Carolina as "Johnston County Courthouse."
The first General Assembly of the independent state of North Carolina convened at New Bern on April 7, 1777. On April 23 a bill to establish the town of Smithfield was introduced by Johnston County's Senator Needham Bryan. It passed the Senate and the House, where it was endorsed by Johnston County's Representatives Henry Rains and Alexander Averitt. The Legislature's procedures delayed ratification of the bill until May 9, but historians say the town was born during the last week of April 1777.
Among the notable events in Smithfield's early history was a meeting of the state's General Assembly, held in the Johnston County courthouse May 3-15, 1779. A legend insisting that Smithfield "missed being the capital" of North Carolina "by one vote" has been passed down from generation to generation. It is pure legend. But Smithfield did receive some consideration on more than one occasion prior to the choosing of a Wake County site that resulted in the creation of Raleigh.
Smithfield is home to Johnston Community College, Smithfield campus, located on a wooded 100-acre site near the intersection of US Highway 70 Business and Interstate 95. Bordering both sides of College Road, the campus has 13 buildings, two scenic ponds with fountains, athletic fields, and is also home to the endangered Red-Cockaded Woodpecker.
Also located in Smithfield are the Johnston Memorial Hospital, a 175-bed facility that was established in 1951; Johnston County Airport at 3149 Swift Creek Road; and the Heritage Center, located on the northwest corner of Market (US 70 Business) and Third streets in Smithfield, dedicated to preserves the history and material culture of Johnston County. The town is also served by Amtrak train service at the Smithfield-Selma station.
The Ava Gardner Museum is also located in Smithfield at 325 East Market Street in the heart of downtown and is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Saturday and 2-5 p.m. on Sunday. Gardner, the Academy Award nominated actress is listed as one of the American Film Institute's greatest stars of all time. She was married to legendary stars Mickey Rooney, Artie Shaw and Frank Sinatra. Her last visit in Smithfield was in May 1985. In 1986, she suffered a stroke. She never fully recovered her health following her stroke and she died of pneumonia on January 25, 1990. Gardner is buried along side her parents Jonah (1878-1938) and Mollie Gardner (1883-1943) and siblings at Sunset Memorial Park, in Smithfield.
Interestingly, the Ava Gardner museum was started in 1941 by a fan, Tom Banks, who saw a photograph of Gardner in a newspaper. The Banks devoted most of their lives to collecting memorabilia from every source imagined. In 1989, Mr. Banks purchased the house that Gardner grew up in from ages 2-13 and managed his own Ava Gardner museum. He suffered a stroke at the museum a few days later and died. Gardner died five months later on January 25, 1990. In the summer of 1990, Mrs. Banks donated the collection to the Town of Smithfield for the maintenance of a permanent, authorized museum in her hometown.
Smithfield also has lots of shopping opportunities. The Carolina Premium Outlets offers an exciting collection of 80 outlet stores from the world's finest designers and name brands, all offering savings of 25 to 65 percent every day. And JR Discount Outlets is one of the largest distributors and retailers of brand name premium cigars in the United States.
A great place to call home, the Smithfield town Web site says it best. "Our community offers an abundance of civic, social, and religious organizations which allow for direct and positive involvement by citizens of all ages, including our visitors."
Find out more about Johnston County, NC -
Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smithfield,_North_Carolina and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ava_Gardner
Ava Gardner museum: http://www.avagardner.org/
Johnston County Visitors Bureau: http://www.johnstoncountync.org/
Downtown Smithfield Development Corp: http://www.downtownsmithfield.com/
Town of Smithfield: http://www.smithfield-nc.com/
Johnston Memorial Hospital: http://www.johnstonmemorial.org/jm.nsf/View/AboutUs
Johnston County Airport: http://www.jnx-airport.com/
The Heritage Center: http://www.johnstonnc.com/mainpage.cfm?category_level_id=436&CFID=2059003&CFTOKEN=16689673