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Williamsburg Area Features

Jamestown

  By: Jacqueline Palsha
Photo Credit: Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation

Discover the story of America’s beginnings in 1607 at Historic Jamestowne and Jamestown Settlement.

Today, there’s so much more to see and do in Jamestown that it’s hard to imagine a time when it wasn’t buzzing with activity, but it was a vastly different landscape in 1607. That’s when a group of 104 English men and boys set foot on this bank of the James River. Sponsored by the Virginia Company of London, they came in search of profits and resources ripe for commerce. In the 13 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth, these men would endure hardships, Indian encounters and the struggles of daily life, but through it all, they would triumph as America’s first permanent English settlement. From this pivotal accomplishment would emerge a new nation, a new world, and centuries later, one of this country’s most historically significant destinations.

Historic Jamestowne

Jamestown is a time capsule yet to be entirely unsealed, its story still unfolding, its soil still rich with treasure. Perhaps nowhere is this more apparent than at Historic Jamestowne. This is the site of the original settlement. Strategically located, it afforded a good defensive position, and it was where some of this nation’s earliest forefathers established a tenuous foothold in a new world. They built a fort here. They practiced their religion and government here. They lived and died here, and their activities still echo through the Jamestown Rediscovery archaeological excavation that is located here today. Beneath the feet of all who travel here rest the remnants of a nation’s birth.

The journey begins at the Historic Jamestowne Visitor Center. The museum features exhibits and a multimedia theater presentation about Jamestown’s 92 years as the capital of Virginia. From there, visitors can walk through the original James Fort site featuring reconstructed portions of the palisade walls exactly where they stood four centuries ago. Once believed to have eroded into the James River, nearly all of the fort site still exists on dry land, and the excavation of it continues to this day. Preservation Virginia’s Jamestown Rediscovery archaeologists work within the public eye, and their findings are on display in the Nathalie P. and Alan M. Voorhees Archaearium (pronounced ar-KEE-air-ee-um) archaeological museum.

Historic Jamestowne
1368 Colonial Parkway, Jamestown, VA 23081
www.historicjamestowne.org • 757-856-1250
(Preservation Virginia)
www.nps.gov/colo • 757–856-1200 (NPS)

Jamestown Settlement

Jamestown Settlement, a museum of 17th-century Virginia history and culture, brings the story of America’s first permanent English colony to life. The living-history museum illuminates the daily existence of the colonists and the confluence of English, Powhatan and west central African cultures in 1600s Virginia.

Through expansive artifact-filled exhibition galleries and an introductory film, this popular attraction has succeeded in duplicating the sights, sounds and even smells of the 17th century. And that is where visitors are immersed as they explore the story of America’s beginnings while venturing through the numerous indoor and outdoor exhibits. 

Within the palisade walls of Jamestown Settlement’s re-created 1610-14 fort stand a church, guardhouse, storehouse and governor’s house, all ready for exploration.  A re-created Powhatan Indian village features several reed-covered houses, crop field and ceremonial circle. Along the James River at the ships’ pier, re-creations of the three 1607 ships – Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery – are moored for visitors to explore. All would-be sailors are welcome to climb aboard for a look the colonists’ accommodations on their four-and-a-half month journey from England.

Throughout all of these Jamestown Settlement venues, costumed historical interpreters engage visitors in activities of 400 years ago. Whether it’s grinding corn, preparing meals, steering a ship or shaping a canoe, hands-on experiences abound in this living-history arena.

Jamestown Settlement
2110 Jamestown Rd., Rte. 31 S.,
Williamsburg, VA 23185
www.historyisfun.org • 888-593-4682

Separate admission fees apply to Historic Jamestowne and Jamestown Settlement, and a variety of multi-attraction tickets are available.

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