Village on the Rancocas CreekThe industrial history of this site goes back to the days of the early colonists who set up sawmills and gristmills, harnessing the natural power of the Rancocas Creek. In the 1830s, the Shreve Brothers, Jonathan and Samuel, purchased the land for a textile manufacturing facility called Shreveville. The manufacturing village initially prospered, but an economic slump in the cotton industry during the 1850s forced the Shreves to shut down their operations and abandon the property by 1857.
In 1865, H.B. Smith removed his company from Lowell, Massachusetts to here. A rural site with abundant natural resources and located near major east coast cities, the village provided the ideal site for the production of Smith's patented woodworking machinery. Smith paid a paltry $20,000 for 45 acres and a village full of buildings. H.B. Smith improved and expanded the existing town structure to create his vision of a model industrial village—"Smithville".
(Inscription under the image on the upper left) A Utopian Vision Hezekiah and Agnes Smith arrived in Burlington County during 1865 with a vision to create a model industrial village that fostered worker welfare to gain increased productivity.
(Inscription under the image on the upper right) The Factory ComplexSmithville was a major production facility shipping to Philadelphia, New York, Washington and beyond. About a quarter of all woodworking machines sold in the nation during the late 1800s were from the H.B. Smith Machine Company.
(Inscription beside the image in the center) The VillageIn creating the industrial village, H.B. Smith invoked a strong sense of social and cultural values to create a healthy and happy workforce. As a result, Smithville possessed a distinct advantage over the grim and crowded conditions usually found in nineteen century industrial urban centers.
(Inscription under the image in the lower left) The MansionJonathan and Samuel Shreve originally built the Greek Revival mansion in 1841. Smith added to it extensively during his tenure. The interior of the mansion was no less impressive, as Smith continually added rooms including among other things, a billiard room, bowling alley, poker room and a bar.
(Inscription under the image in the lower right) The FarmH.B. Smith's impressive farm complex stood directly across the main road from the mansion grounds and included barns, wagon sheds, tool houses, stables, corn cribs and a slaughterhouse. A 120-foot high tower with an observation deck also stood here.