In an effort to continue its preservation of the Historic Hastings House and to create an additional opportunity for visitors to learn about the significance of the Civil War in Smithfield, the Downtown Smithfield Development Corporation seeks to acquire authentic Civil War artifacts.
Although the Town of Smithfield and the Bentonville Battlefield will celebrate the Civil War Sesquicentennial, 150th anniversary, in March 2015, the DSDC has already seen an increase in visitors to the Hastings House, many of whom are traveling along the Civil War Trail, as sesquicentennial celebrations are already underway in areas that saw earlier action. IN addition to the many original architecture elements that remain intact, visitors are able to view an art collections donated by Mrs. Jean Jones which comprised of eight giclée by artist John Paul Strain that depict various Civil War era scenes. The DSDC hopes to amass a collection of artifacts and antiques and promote the Hastings House as a regional and national destination of Civil War history.
“We have a tremendous economic asset right here in our own backyard,” states Chris Johnson, Executive Director of the Downtown Smithfield Development Corporation. “It can’t get any better than to have Confederate General, Joseph E. Johnston maintained his military headquarters here at the Hastings House prior to the Battle of Bentonville and for the courthouse steps to be the place where General Sherman announced the news of General Robert E. Lee’s pending surrender.”
The Downtown Smithfield Development Corporation plans to build its collection through temporary exhibit loans from other museums and private collectors and through the donation of artifacts which will become part of a permanent collection. Of special interest are artifacts that can be attributed to individual soldiers and items with a connection to this area.
“We begin this process with limited funds and have to trust in the generosity of individuals willing to donate or loan their prized pieces of history,” continues Johnson. “A handwritten letter written by General Johnston was donated to the Hastings House Association when it was first renovated in the 1960’s, and is currently preserved at the Johnston County Heritage Center. We hope to have this item on display at the Hastings House in the near future.”
To learn more about the benefits of donating or loaning Civil War artifacts to the Downtown Smithfield Development Corporation and the Historic Hasting House, individuals may call Mr. Johnson at 919-934-0887. For more information about the Downtown Smithfield Development Corporation, visit http://www.downtownsmithfield.com.