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Old Church Tower
The Old Church Tower, standing on the grounds of the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, was probably built about 1639.

The Development of Jamestown

No attempt will be made to restore Jamestown as it was in 1607 or at any other period. The town was always small and always changing. Jamestown, it might be said, was never a city in the modern concept. It was more a village, a small community. The town of 1607, or 1610, was unlike that of 1623, and that of 1623 was far different from that of 1675. Architecture went all the way from timber and thatch structures to substantial all-brick houses. Even if the town had had a reasonable continuity of building types and plan, known information would be entirely insufficient to allow a restoration. Major discoveries of new material are still expected, yet the detail necessary for an authentic restoration may always be too meager.

The site of old "James Towne" has, however, retained much of the spirit of its antiquity. Its serene and peaceful atmosphere seems to take one back through the years. You may be able, for a moment, to disassociate yourself from the swift pace of present living as you wander past the old foundations and look upon the Old Church Tower.

The National Park Service, following the precedent established by the Association, is endeavoring to preserve this unbroken link with the past. The emphasis is on the presentation of the townsite itself and the island wilderness as the real exhibit. There are "streets" and winding paths, exposed and marked foundations, existing remains, paintings of buildings and scenes, property markings (old ditches, fences of period design, and hedges), and natural planting. Shaded vistas and secluded points for quiet reflection are provided as much as possible. Some use is being made of period-type buildings (but not specific reconstructions) as in the "glasshouse" with its thatch, wattle and daub, and "cruck" design.

Physical features of the 17th century have not survived at Jamestown in sufficient number to illustrate the complete story, and the townsite will not adapt itself to a full coverage. However, there are extensive supplementary exhibits in the Jamestown Visitor Center, which are designed to help you understand and "experience" Jamestown.


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Last Modified: Mon, Dec 2 2002 10:00:00 am PDT

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