Jamestown Settlement: Chronicles America’s 17th-Century Beginnings

Images and editorial supplied by the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation

At Jamestown Settlement, a living-history museum of 17th century Virginia, discover the story of America’s first permanent English colony, founded in 1607, and the ensuing convergence of the Powhatan Indian, English and West Central African cultures, vividly recounted through film, indoor gallery exhibits and outdoor living history. Discover the stories of real people and events of early Virginia in exhibition galleries incorporating new historical research and innovative technology. Experience 30,000-square-feet of immersive exhibits with an expanded collection of 500 artifacts, dynamic displays, engaging interactives and 4D theater. Outdoors, visitors can escape to the past in life-size re-creations of a Paspahegh town, the three ships that brought English colonists to Virginia in 1607, and a 1610–1614 fort. Visitors can try on armor, shape a dugout canoe, steer with a ship’s tiller, and other activities that make the past come alive.

Jamestown Settlement

Don’t Just Visit the Past, Get Into It with Immersive Films and Refreshed Gallery Exhibits 
Begin your visit with “1607: A Nation Takes Root,” a docudrama that traces the evolution of the Virginia Company that sponsored the Jamestown colony, examines the relationship between the English colonists and the Powhatan Indians, and chronicles the arrival of the first recorded West Central Africans in 1619. Gallery exhibits explore the three cultures through artifact-filled cases, dioramas and short films. Interactives allow visitors to compare and contrast each of the three cultures, explore the life and legend of Pocahontas, and examine the impact of 1619 historical events that shaped Virginia. Take in a one-of-a-kind 4D multi-sensory, multi-layered projection theater where “Bacon’s Rebellion,” a 1676 armed rebellion of Virginia colonists led by Nathaniel Bacon against the rule of Governor William Berkeley, unfolds.

Image Courtesy Of Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation

Visitors Take an Active Role in History with Historical Interpreters in Outdoor Settings
Outdoors, historical interpreters show the Powhatan way of life at a re-created Paspahegh town, based on the archaeological findings at a nearby site along the James River once inhabited by Paspahegh Indians, the Powhatan tribal group closest to Jamestown, and descriptions and illustrations recorded by English colonists in the 17th century. Visitors learn how to grow and prepare food, process animal hides, build dugout canoes, make tools and pottery, and weave plant fibers into cordage. From Paspahegh town, take the path to the James River pier where re-creations of the three ships that transported the Jamestown colonists to Virginia in 1607 – the Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery – are docked. Visitors can board and explore to learn about the 144-day voyage from England, and take part in periodic demonstrations of piloting and navigation, knot-tying and sail-handling.Inside the wooden palisade of the re-created fort, reflecting its military and commercial character in 1610–1614, are wattle-and-daub structures with thatched roofs. Cover your ears during daily demonstrations of matchlock musket firing, see a blacksmith at work in a forge, and take part with interpreters to cultivate crops, prepare meals and repair tools the 17th-century way.  The museum, operated by the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, is located about a mile from the original site and 10 minutes from Williamsburg.

A value-priced combination ticket is available with the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. Call (757) 253-4838 or visit jyfmuseums.org to learn more.   

Historic Jamestowne: A Colonial National Historical Park

Images and editorial supplied by Historic Jamestowne

Walk in the footsteps of Captain John Smith, Pocahontas and the men and women who settled England’s first permanent colony in North America in 1607. Experience the actual place where the first representative assembly in English North America met and the first Africans arrived in Virginia. 

Explore the original site of the 1607 James Fort and witness the moment of discovery as archaeologists uncover artifacts from this first settlement.  

Located at the east end of the island, the Nathalie P. and Alan M. Voorhees Archaearium, Jamestown’s archaeology museum, displays more than 4,000 artifacts from James Fort. 

After a visit to the Archaearium, enjoy lunch on the banks of the James River at the Dale House Café. Spend time soaking up the natural environment of the island, where you can observe bald eagles, blue herons and white-tailed deer among the indigenous wildlife that thrive in the area. 

Throughout the year, you can meet some of the early settlers during eyewitness programs and living history tours. Events are held on-site to commemorate important dates in Jamestown’s history.

Continue your visit with a trip along the Island Loop Drive, a five-mile, self-guided driving tour, where you can explore the natural environment. Exhibit signs along the drive explaining how the early Jamestown settlers harnessed this environment to help them survive. Take the time to park at Black Point, on the island’s eastern tip, and walk the footpath to the James River for a spectacular panoramic view. 

Complete your visit with a stop at the Glasshouse of 1608 to observe artisans practicing glassmaking, one of the earliest industries attempted on the island. 

Historic Jamestowne is jointly administered by the National Park Service and The Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation (on behalf of Preservation Virginia), and preserves the site of America’s first permanent English settlement.

Admission to Historic Jamestowne also includes admission to Yorktown Battlefield and provides unlimited access to both historic sites for seven consecutive days. The entrance gate is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and the Visitor Center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day). Visitors may stay on the site until dusk. For admission prices and event information, visit HistoricJamestowne.org or call 757-856-1250.