Nothing says "Salty and Southern" quite like the peanut and Suffolk, Virginia has been a hub for the production of this delicious legume for years! It all started with Amedeo Obici,, an immigrant from Italy who's story exemplifies the American dream of "rags to riches."
Obici arrived in America as a boy unable to speak English and worked his first job in a cigar factory while going to night school. He then worked a fruit stand that also happened to roast peanuts. It was this first affiliation with the peanut that inspired Amedeo to eventually take large strides in its production modernization!
While this dream started in Scranton and Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania, Obici moved his processing operation to Suffolk, Virginia in 1913. This region of Virginia was already leading the way in the farming of the peanut, therefore it seemed natural to bring production closer.
Since this move Mr. Peanut and Planters Peanuts have had a big hand in shaping The City of Suffolk. You can see statues of the lovable character throughout Suffolk and, most certainly, he makes an appearance in front of what was Amedeo Obici's home! (picture above)
This home is the Obici House and sits on the 263 acre Bay Point Farm overlooking the Nansemond River! The mansion is an irregularly planned Italian Renaissance-style house that has been decorated with Italian art, has classical details that include flute columns, brackets and huge windows for gazing at the water. This beautiful abode was Obici's home until his death in 1947 and these days it is a "Nationally Registered Historic Place." It has been opened to the public for a wedding/event venue, the grounds are now a lovely golf course and The Obici House serves dinner on Thursday nights to whomever would like to attend!
From the story that surrounds Planters Peanuts and Amedeo Obici to the impressive house and property that was left behind, this story is worth delving into and The Obici House is definitely worth the visit! Stop by on Thursdays for a delicious dinner or contact them to set up your next event!
Visit these links for more history on The Obici Story, as well as more information about The House and upcoming events!
The Salty Southern Route
is a joint tourism effort of the towns of Franklin and Smithfield, Isle of Wight, Southampton, Surry and Sussex Counties, and the city of Suffolk, Virginia.