Virginia Tech has agreed to protect the home that helped give the university its start – Historic Smithfield Plantation.

The Virginia Tech Board of Visitors recently approved the acceptance of an historic easement that gives Virginia Tech the responsibility to ensure the historic nature of Smithfield Plantation, which was once home to the Preston family, whose land eventually became Virginia Tech.

The Smithfield Preston Foundation will continue to operate the plantation, with its museum, shop, library, and other features. Virginia Tech’s Office of University Planning will regularly inspect the property and ensure that any changes maintain the historical nature of the building and property.

“It’s fitting that Virginia Tech will help preserve Smithfield Plantation. It’s an important part of our history, and an integral part of our community,” said Sherwood Wilson, vice president for administration.

Preservation Virginia, a private non-profit organization that protects and manages historic properties in the commonwealth, granted the historic easement. The easement is for a seven-year trial period. If all obligations are met then it will be held by the university in perpetuity.

“We expect this agreement will strengthen our relationship with Virginia Tech. We will be working with the Office of University Planning as part of the easement, but we hope to work with others to further our educational and outreach efforts," said Bill Foster, chairman of the board for the Smithfield Preston Foundation.

Historic Smithfield Plantation, built by William Preston in 1774, uses historical interpreters, tours, exhibits, events, and activities to portray frontier life in the late 18th century. The home and grounds are open for tours daily, except Wednesdays.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.