The final section of the Comprehensive Plan addresses an important asset that is increasingly unique in the United States. The historic residential and commercial buildings, the community history that reaches back nearly 200 years, and the value in history that many community members hold dear is fast disappearing in this fast-paced country. The City of Smithville considers investment in its history to be prudent and based in common sense, and takes pride in its ability to facilitate historic preservation efforts. The commercial (1982) and residential (1996) historic districts were established as a result of community action together with City leadership, and in 2009, the Heritage Society together with City of Smithville Staff applied for a “Preserve America” designation for the City (at this time, we are pending notification). In addition, the City of Smithville is working together with the Heritage Society to develop a set of workshops to help property owners understand the benefits they may derive from seeking historical recognition.
History has long been an important concern to the City of Smithville. It has appointed citizens to the Railroad Park and Museum Board since in the 1980s in recognition of the historical and continued importance of the Railroad industry to our economic health and prosperity. The James Long Railroad Park, adjacent to the Chamber of Commerce office, includes two actual train caboose cars from the 1940s and 1950s as well as a train depot that was restored to its original nineteenth century condition. Docents are available to take visitors on a “tour in time” through the depot to understand the traveling experience of the 1850s. The Railroad Museum is housed in the Chamber of Commerce, proudly displaying artifacts of our railroad history and a scale model of the first, grand, railroad depot in Smithville.
In 2006 the City of Smithville appointed members to a Board to examine the potential in preserving Central School, the orange-brick building built in 1907 by Masonic Lodge Number 421 A.F. & A.M. This building, central to the education and formation of many generations of Smithville families, is part of a major preservation and public service program for the City. Programs planned for Central School will make it accessible to all socioeconomic levels and age groups, filling the gaps in the civic heartbeat of the community and bringing this historic treasure back into the central life of the City.
Comprehensive Plan 2007 Chapter 8 - Historic Preservation