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New Building at Jamestown Settlement Fort Modeled After Archaeological Find


Governors House under construction in the fort.jpgA new building is taking shape at Jamestown Settlement’s re-created 1610-14 fort, based on one of two large “row houses” uncovered by Preservation Virginia’s Jamestown Rediscovery archaeological project at Historic Jamestowne in 2004-05.

The row house is the second Jamestown Rediscovery building to be re-created at Jamestown Settlement. The first, completed in 2006 and currently interpreted as a storehouse, is based on a building that dates to the earliest period of the fort, built by English colonists who arrived in Virginia in 1607.

The cobblestone foundations of the two row houses at Historic Jamestowne (jointly administered by Preservation Virginia and the National Park Service) are located within the original James Fort site, paralleling the western wall of the palisade.  Based on their location in the fort, historical references and the discovery of high-status items in the vicinity, the buildings probably were constructed between 1610 and 1614, and the one to be re-created at Jamestown Settlement may have served as the colonial governor’s house.

According to Ralph Hamor’s account of Virginia during 1610-14, Jamestown had “two faire rowes of houses, all of framed timber, two stories, and an upper garret or corn loft.”  The 1618 records of the Virginia Company cite a “Governors house in James town first built by Sir Thomas Gates Knight.”  Gates served as lieutenant governor of Virginia from 1611 to 1614.  Historical records also cite an addition to the governor’s house by Samuel Argall, who served as deputy governor in 1617-19.  Jamestown Rediscovery archaeologists found the brick foundations of an apparent addition to the building thought to have been the governor’s house.

The cobblestone foundation of the 66- by 18-foot building under construction at Jamestown Settlement was completed in early 2009.  Members of the museum exhibits fabrication staff  assembled the timber framework in a service area and began erecting the frame on the foundation in September.

Among distinctive features of the building are two chimneys, each with a back-to-back fireplace, and a second story that extends two feet beyond the first story on the side facing the “street” along the re-created fort wall.  The first story is divided into four rooms with wood plank floors.  Two doors on opposite sides of the building will open into a small entry space.  Walls of wattle (wood latticework connected to the timber frames) and daub (plaster of clay, sand and straw) will be topped by a thatched roof.