Thursday, June 13, 2024

Historic Jamestown Church Tower Receiving New Roof

(Stephanie Sabin/WYDaily)

JAMESTOWN — As part of a years-long effort, the first stage toward a new roof for the 17th-century Church Tower at Historic Jamestown was completed on Monday, Jan. 29.

The historic tower was fitted with a 2.5-ton stainless steel superstructure via crane — glass panels will be installed at a later date.

Constructed in 1680, the brick church tower is the last surviving above-ground structure from the days when Jamestown was the capital of Virginia, according to the Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation (JRF). It has survived fires, the fortification of the area during the American Civil War, and decades in which it was left to molder in the thick woods that grew after the colony’s capital moved to Williamsburg in 1699.

(Stephanie Sabin/WYDaily)

It was important to come up with a roof structure that was not obtrusive or visible.

Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation Director of Collections and Project Manager Michael Lavin said, “We knew that it needed a roof. After the restoration project in 2014, all of the architectural historians warned that the tower was crumbling and we needed to dry it in. We didn’t want to ‘reconstruct’ it to look like what it originally would have looked like. We wanted to maintain our iconic ruinous tower.”

Preservation of history with accuracy without being invasive is the approach Givens uses, “The Church Tower roof today is a classic example, preservation and protection without altering the icon and structure.”

L.J. Swain, president of Daniel & Company, said of the project, “The challenge was building a machine shop level piece of steel to go into a structure that is anything but machine shop level.”

“This is the beginning of the final, literal, cap on our articulated vision of preserving the tower. The archeology inside the tower is remnants of the first permanent English settlement’s governmental building. Our [the United States] first government building,” said David Givens, JRF Director of Archeology.

To learn more about the project, visit the Jamestown Rediscovery webpage.

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