December 19: Four Ships, Three Corners, No Architecture (Just Yet)

2016/12/19 § Leave a comment


On this day in 1606 the Susan, Constant, Godspeed and Discovery departed England carrying settlers who founded Jamestown, Virginia.

Starting in 1607 these British settlers, who founded the first settlement in the Americas that would survive, had permanence on their minds.  As their old maps show, and as early written descriptions explain, their first buildings had the general form and planning of those back home, but built, necessarily, of the materials at hand.  Neat timber frame houses with thatch roofs and wattle-and-daub construction lined the streets in the triangular palisade that defined the newly planted civilization inside and protected it from the wilds without–which apparently (by the look of the map above) included one monstrously huge Native American.  This was all well and good for getting started, but it was clear here, as it is in colonial settlements generally speaking, that transplants desire to recreate whatever they left back home, recreating the long-standing traditions of real architecture for a sense of longevity tied to tradition.  As early as 1639 they raised a brick church, and as they filled out Virginia, within generations were building as closely to models of good taste–as defined by contemporary British preferences–as possible.

Image: old map (from this source)

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You are currently reading December 19: Four Ships, Three Corners, No Architecture (Just Yet) at Clio’s Calendar: Daily Musings on Architectural History.


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