The 17th-century Jamestown Church in Jamestown, Virginia, is one of the oldest surviving above-ground buildings built by Europeans in the original thirteen colonies that became the United States.
In 1607, the first real church was built inside a fort. In January 1608 it was destroyed by fire.
This information is known from one of Captain John Smith’s books, where he wrote of building the first structure at Jamestown.
The settlers came ashore and quickly set about constructing their initial fort.
Within a month, The James Fort covered an acre of Jamestown Island.
The wooden palisaded walls formed a triangle around the church, a storehouse and a number of houses.
In the following year, the fort burned down.
The first church on the site where the present church stands was constructed in 1617 by Captain Samuel Argall.
According to Historic Jamestowne, in 1619, this church was the meeting place of the first representative legislative assembly in British North America.
Construction on the current church tower began in 1639 taking 4 years to complete. In 1750, a new church was built 3 miles away and the rest of the original church was destroyed and abandoned.
The present church, the Memorial Church, was built by the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in 1907 just outside the foundations of the earlier churches.
It was designed by Boston architects Ralph Adams Cram and Edmund Wheelwright and the original 1617 foundations may be viewed under glass on the floor inside.
Inside the walls of the church, there are many plaques that commemorate the important events and people of old Jamestown.
The design of the present church was inspired by a nearby similar church surviving from 1682, St. Luke’s Church originally known as the Old Brick Church, or Newport Parish Church.
In 1892, Jamestown was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Edward Barney.
Barneys donated 22 acres of land, including the church tower, to the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities.