Gertrude Smith House

The historic Gertrude Smith House was built by merchant and landowner Jefferson Davis Smith around the turn of the century.  This Victorian-style home contains period furnishings and is listed on National Register of Historic Places. Open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., April-December. There is no admission charge.

Jefferson Davis Smith was a local merchant and landowner who operated a general store, several farms, and numerous rental properties. After his death in the 1930s, his daughter Gertrude moved back to the Smith family home and assumed management of the family businesses. Gertrude was an interior decorator who was educated at Parson’s School of Design in New York City and was employeed by two prestigious NYC decorating firms. She used her decorating talents when she moved back to Mount Airy by updating and enlargming her childhood home and filling it with beautiful art and antiques. She continued her career in Mount Airy, decorating many of the interiors of the homes in the area. Gertrude’s brother, Dr. Robert Smith, collected much of the artwork in his world travels, including serving during World War II.
Gertrude was also involved in historic preservation locally and was one of the charter members of the Mount Airy Restoration Foundation. It was her passion for preservation that caused her to form the Gilmer-Smith Foundation, and the foundation’s board of directors oversees the perpetual care of the home. When Gertrude died in 1981, she willed that the home be left as a “living museum.”

A tour of the home gives visitors the feeling that the Smith family just walked out the back door moments earlier. Furnishings, accessories, and artwork are displayed just as they were when the Smith family lived there. Even the dining room table is set with Miss Gertrude’s china and crystal. Personal items are placed throughout the home for all who come to visit to appreciate, relish, and enjoy.

The beautiful yard contains trees and shrubs planted decades ago. Giant oak and ash trees, along with fruit and nut trees, redbuds, and dogwoods, are among the original plantings. Vintage shrubs such as forsythia, scotchbroom, spirea, lilac, and winter honeysuckle are woven throughout the Victorian landscape.

 

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708 N. Main Street