Living in Hampton Roads: Isle of Wight County

Acountry world exists just a short drive across the James River Bridge from Newport News. Instead of pavement and strip malls, Isle of Wight County is still mostly trees and crops.

An estimated 85 percent of its land is covered with farms and forests. Cotton and soybeans are the biggest crops. Every September, more than 30,000 people turn out for the Isle of Wight County Fair.

But developers have discovered Isle of Wight. The county has seen a 15 percent increase in population over the last decade. The Eagle Harbor development has taken shape just south of the James River Bridge. Other large mixed-use developments are in the works, including the Benns Grant and St. Luke's Village projects.

The county is home to two incorporated towns — Smithfield and Windsor. One of the county's biggest attractions is Historic St. Luke's Church. The church, which dates to about 1632, is the oldest existing church of English foundation in North America and the nation's only surviving, original Gothic building.

The most recent historic attractions to open include Fort Huger, an earthen-walled Confederate Civil War fort that opened as a county park in 2007, and the Schoolhouse Museum. Located in a renovated two-room schoolhouse dating to 1932 on Smithfield's Main Street, the Schoolhouse is a tribute to the history of African-American public education.

Isle of Wight

Population: 36,596 (estimate)

Area: 316 square miles

Median age: 44.5

Median household income: $65,741

Landmarks: Historic St. Luke's Church, Fort Boykin Historic Park, Ragged Island Wildlife Management Area, Heritage Park.

Board of Supervisors Chairman: Rex Alphin, 757-562-6156

Info: co.isle-of-wight.va.us

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