Reconstruction of the Susan Constant docked at Jamestown Settlement
|Type||Living history museum|
Jamestown Settlement is a living history museum operated by the Commonwealth of Virginia. It is located near the site of Jamestown, the first successful English settlement on the mainland of North America, founded on May 14, 1607.
Created for the 350th anniversary celebration in 1957 as Jamestown Festival Park, today Jamestown Settlement includes a recreation of the James Fort ca. 1610 to 1614, and a Powhatan Indian Village, indoor and outdoor displays, and replicas of the original settler's ships, the Susan Constant, Godspeed, and the Discovery.
The museum is adjacent and complementary to Historic Jamestowne on Jamestown Island, which is the actual historic and archaeological site where the first settlers landed and lived that is run by the National Park Service and Preservation Virginia. Both sites at Jamestown are linked by the bucolic Colonial Parkway with the other two points of Virginia's Historic Triangle, Colonial Williamsburg, and Yorktown.
Late in the 19th century, Jamestown became the focus of renewed historical interest and efforts at preservation. In 1893, a portion of the island was donated to Preservation Virginia (formerly known as The Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities) for that purpose. The actual location of the 1607 fort was thought to be underwater, lost to erosion. A seawall was constructed, which preserved the site where the remains of the original "James Fort" were to be discovered by archaeologists of the Jamestown Rediscovery project beginning in 1994, a century later.
In 1907, the Jamestown Exposition was held to mark the 300th anniversary of the founding of the Jamestown in 1607. Because of transportation and other considerations which made the site of Jamestown impractical, the celebration was held at Sewell's Point in Norfolk, Virginia, on the harbor of Hampton Roads.
Jamestown Festival Park
For the 350th anniversary in 1957, a return to Jamestown itself (then an island) was considered more feasible. Attractions were developed by the US National Park Service and the Commonwealth of Virginia.
At the National Park Service site, the reconstructed Glasshouse, the Memorial Cross and the visitors center were completed and dedicated. The National Park Service's Colonial Parkway linking the Historic Triangle of Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown was completed and opened to its full 32-mile length in April, 1957. An important feature was reconstruction of the land bridge to Jamestown Island.
At the state-sponsored facility, which was named Jamestown Festival Park, later renamed Jamestown Settlement, full-sized replicas of the three ships that brought the colonists, the Susan Constant, Godspeed, and the Discovery were constructed at a shipyard in Portsmouth, Virginia, and docked at Jamestown, where became a permanent attraction to be both toured, and seen by water from the nearby Jamestown Ferry system operated by VDOT, and relocated for the festival to nearby Glass House Point.
Other events in 1957 included army and navy reviews, air force fly-overs, ship and aircraft christenings and even an outdoor drama at Cape Henry, site of the first landing of the settlers.
The 1957 celebration continued from April 1 to November 30 with over one million participants, including dignitaries and politicians such as the British Ambassador and U.S. Vice President Richard Nixon. The highlight for many of the nearly 25,000 at the Festival Park on October 16, 1957 was the visit and speech of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and her consort, Prince Philip. Queen Elizabeth loaned a copy of Magna Carta for the exhibition.
In the 21st century
Jamestown Settlement was greatly expanded early in the 21st century as part of the Jamestown 2007 quadricentennial celebration.
On Jamestown Island itself, the National Park Service and Preservation Virginia, operate Historic Jamestowne. Through archaeological efforts, sections of the original palisade line, over a million artifacts, more than 3 wells, and 10 structures have been discovered. Over a million artifacts have been recovered by the Jamestown Rediscovery project with ongoing archaeological work, including a number of exciting recent discoveries. '
- "Timeline of exploration of N.America". Timepage.org. Retrieved 2009-09-22.
- "Official Jamestown Settlement & Yorktown Victory Center Website: Bringing History to Life". Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation. Retrieved 2014-03-04.