Tour of Historic Jamestown, Virginia
This tour includes nearly a dozen historical markers, landmark buildings, and sites related to the establishment of Jamestown in 1607.
The first Africans to arrive in the English American colonies were enslaved people captured from a Portuguese slave ship who disembarked at Point Comfort. It was late August 1619; colonial officials traded food for the "20 and odd" enslaved individuals. A few of these individuals were transported to Jamestown; by 1625 at least nine African men and women were enslaved there. Some free individuals in the community eventually gained their freedom. In the late 1600s Virginia would lay the legal foundations for the system of hereditary slavery which would persist for 250 years.
John Coke built a T-shaped farmstead in 1852; this building was T-shaped and the only surviving example of the Peninsula of Picturesque style. Over the next century, agricultural production decreased on the farm and the land was subdivided. When auto dealer Robert Brumley Watts and his wife Estelle C. Watts purchased the property, they added another wing to the house, more than doubling its size. Between the 1940s and 1950s, they created the H-shaped building that stands today and repaired two outbuildings on the property. The addition has similar massing and brickwork to the original structure and is a late example of the Colonial Revival style.
This historical marker is located in a reconstructed Native American village within the Jamestown Settlement living history museum. The reconstruction is was based on primary sources left by colonists as well as archaeological evidence from settlements of the Paspahegh, the Powhatan tribe located the closest to Jamestown. The marker includes illustrations of the village and its inhabitants.
The Susan Constant was the largest of the three Virginia Company of London's ships, measuring 116 feet long. With the Godspeed and Discovery, it was part of the 1606-1607 voyage led by Captain Christopher Newport to create a settlement in the colony of Virginia. The ship carried 71 people, one of them being historical figure, John Smith. This expedition founded the settlement of Jamestown. During the settlement's tumultuous beginnings, John Smith was held as a prisoner aboard the Susan Constant for challenging the leadership of the settlement. The replica of the Susan Constant was built in 1989 to commemorate the first English colonists to colonize the New World.
Founded in 1607, Jamestown was one of the first English attempts to create a colony in North America. The site of the original settlement is now a cultural heritage site and home to a living history museum featuring educational exhibits and programs, as well as reenactments and historic artifacts from the colonial period. Historic Jamestowne is operated by the National Park Service and Preservation Virginia. As a result, visitors to Colonial Williamsburg may find that a visit to Historic Jamestowne offers a better balance of education over entertainment and does more to challenge stereotypes and misconceptions about the colonial period. While both sites employ historians and others who strive to provide an authentic and historically accurate experience, Historic Jamestowne places a much greater emphasis on education and preservation. Through a variety of programs as well as tours, historians work to portray accurate depictions of the lives of settlers, enslaved workers, and Native Americans.
This brick well in the "Old Towne" area of Jamestown dates back to the beginning of the 1600s, earliest years of the colony. After the well was no longer in use, it became a receptacle for garbage. Artifacts recovered from the well are in the collection of the nearby Archaearium.
Built around 1617, this well was only in use until the 1620s, at which point it became a trash receptacle. Governor Samuel Argall probably built the well, which was not among the first two wells built in the settlement. In 2002, Archaeologists at Jamestown working outside the Fort James site found a trove of well-preserved colonial artifacts in this well, including pewter objects and the breastplate from a suit of armor.
The statue by William Ordway Partridge was placed in Jamestown in 1922 to commemorate the life of Pocahontas, daughter of Chief Powhatan, who served as a diplomat between the English colonists and the Powhatan tribe. Pocahontas married colonial leader John Rolfe but perished during her "honeymoon" trip to England. One of the best-known if also least-understood Native Americans, Pocahontas was born around 1595 and died in 1617. The statue presents Pocahontas in dress that was typical for Native Americans on the Great Plains rather than those who lived in Virginia at the time of contact with colonists, something that reflects the view of many Americans who envision all Native Americans as identical.
Once a two-story Georgian homestead that its owners liked to call a "mansion," this house belonged to the prominent Ambler family in the eighteenth century. The Amblers had significant land holdings in Jamestown and were important to the local economy. Around 1750, the Amblers built the house near Back Street and the church in Jamestown. The house burned during the American Revolution but was restored by Colonel John Ambler. David Bullock purchased the land of the Ambler and Travis families in Jamestown in 1831, including this house. After a second fire during the Civil War, the house was restored again, but was abandoned after a third fire in 1895.
Historical research in wills, deeds, and maps dating to the colonial period led to historians identifying the remains of this late-seventeenth-century house uncovered by archaeologists. This site in the "New Towne" section of Jamestown was owned by William May, an attorney and vestryman, beginning in 1661. Another Jamestown attorney and businessman, Henry Hartwell, acquired the property in 1688 and most likely built the structure that once stood here. A Colonel White later owned the building and land, Ultimately Richard Ambler, who built Ambler Mansion, purchased it around 1745. The house no longer stands beyond a few fragments, and was likely pulled down by Ambler.