JAMESTOWN –In the spring of 2021, the Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation launched a national campaign to protect the iconic church tower at historic Jamestown.
The brick tower is the only remaining above-ground example of 17th-century architecture at Jamestown from when it served as Virginia’s colonial capital.
Recognizing the significance of the tower to American history, members of the Jamestowne Society pledged to raise $150,000 to go towards the completion of this project.
This past December, the Jamestowne Society reached this goal and in January, members of the Jamestowne Society and Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation
staff came together to celebrate this achievement.
Presenting the contribution to Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation’s Director of Archaeology David Givens and Director of Development Denise Kellogg, Jamestown Society’s Executive Director Bonnie Hofmeyer said, “The historic church tower is the reason Jamestown was saved more than 100 years ago. It represents the very beginning of the American story, and Jamestowne Society members want to help save it so that future generations can stand in the place where history happened.”
The church tower dates to the late 17th century, approximately 1680. Between 1617 and 1699, three major periods of church construction, repair, and remodeling occurred at Jamestown, with each later iteration built upon the same consecrated ground.
When the statehouse at Jamestown burned in 1698, the capital of the colony was relocated to nearby Williamsburg and subsequently, most of Jamestown’s residents followed. The church was deconsecrated and abandoned sometime in the 1750s and slowly fell into ruin.
By 1893, the church tower was a freestanding monument open to the elements. The church’s walls and tower roof had collapsed, the doors had been removed, and much of the brick and mortar was disintegrating.
Early conservators used the prevailing preservation techniques of the day to halt further deterioration of the bricks, but they chose not to rebuild the tower or its roof.
Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation initiated conservation work on the tower that identified critical areas that must be addressed.
In order to preserve the tower for generations to come, Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation has developed a comprehensive plan that addresses current and future threats to the 17th-century church tower while respecting the building’s historic fabric and form.
Calling on the expertise of skilled professionals in historic preservation, architecture, and construction, the interior roof project is slated for completed in 2023.
“We are delighted to partner again with The Jamestowne Society, who have supported archaeology and preservation of the original fort since the inception of the Rediscovery Project almost thirty years ago,” said Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation President & CO James Horn
Updates on the project will be posted on the Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation website.