(Look Back is an occasional series with content and images from the Atlantic County Historical Society.)
Originally, Smithville Inn was a one-room brick-lined structure built in 1787 by James Baremore. By 1874, it had grown into a building six times the original. It was located across the meadows with a clear view of the bay.
Since houses were few and far between in those days, and since this one stood on what was a stagecoach route, it was no wonder that travelers stopped here and Baremore became an innkeeper.
The inn became famous for its dinners and suppers and as one of the descendants of the Smith family wrote, "In the attic could always be found large pans of scrapple and links of homemade sausage." Large quantities of doughnuts in stone crocks and jars of preserves were also waiting to be eaten by the hungry guests. In the smokehouse were a dozen or more hams and in the cellar could always be found clams, oysters and terrapin.
After people drove from Mullica Hill, Haddonfield and Medford for their Quaker meeting in Smithville, they stopped at the inn to enjoy the fine food there.
An airfield, known as the Towne of Smithville Airfield, opened in November 1967 and was a short walk from the village. The airfield could accommodate the landing of single engine and light twin engine planes. Many fly-in groups frequently would land there and have available a lounge and a place to refuel.
In addition to the inn and village, a Music Fair was held each evening from July to Labor Day. People would make their way from the inn and village to a gaily colored orange and yellow-top tent for a night of entertainment provided by Broadway and Hollywood stars. A Children's Theatre, which had live performers, and various artists in concert helped attract folks of all ages and provided for a thrilling summer season.
Today, the Smithville Inn is the focal point of Smithville Village, a complex of shops, boutiques and small eateries. During Christmas season, a flotilla of Christmas trees dance along the lake to the rhythm of background music.