After the Arsons

Apr 15, 2013

Virginia's rural Eastern Shore community is getting back to normal after Charles Smith confessed to a majority of the 77 arsons set there since November.

The area  has an abundance of renovated manors and crumbling structures, some more than 200 years old.

At first residents were glad when arsonists targeted derelict houses. But as the crimes went on, they began to wear on the tiny community.

The arsonists struck at night so people didn't want to leave their homes. But when the arsons first began back in mid-November, not everyone took it seriously. Some joked they were doing the county a service by cleaning up derelict buildings.

Jenny Barker, executive director of the Eastern Shore Historical Society, has other concerns.

“There were other buildings that actually touched people's hearts like the Whispering Pines Motel. That was a very sensitive property that tugged on a lot of people's heartstrings and I think it was hard for people to see that burn,” said Barker.

Over the years celebrities such as Walter Cronkite  and Dianna Ross came and dined at the Whispering Pines, once a major Southeastern landmark.