Smithfield (population 20,613), located in Rhode Island's "Apple Country," was established in 1731 as an agrarian community. But its location on the Woonasquatucket River also allowed textile manufacturing to flourish during the 19th century.
Georgiaville is one of the small villages that developed near the mills, and a self-guided walking tour of this historic district allows visitors to appreciate this well-preserved collection of worker houses. The Homestead Mill in Georgiaville is an adaptive use success story, having been rehabilitated as condominiums.
The principal heritage tourism attraction in Smithfield is the Smith-Appleby House (1696/1730) that is owned and maintained by the Smithfield Historical Society.
Through property tax abatements and direct financial support, the town recently provided important support to the society's efforts to preserve another of Smithfield's historic properties, the Waterman Tavern. Vacant since about 1970, the remaining portion of the tavern, which dates from the 1850s, is in severely distressed condition. The society is considering turning the property into a regional visitor center.
Designated a Preserve America Community in June 2004.