The Virginia General Assembly is the oldest representative legislature in the Western Hemisphere. Meeting for the first time in July 1619, it gathered in the "most convenient place we could finde to sitt in ? the Quire of the churche." Thereafter the assembly and their meeting house both continued to grow until the Statehouse Complex burned in 1698.
In 1643, the assembly divided into two bodies, the Council of State, appointed by the King, and the House of Burgesses, with members elected by voters from Jamestown and counties across the colony. This bicameral form of government grew to its zenith by the 1660s and 1670s. Following Bacon's Rebellion in 1676, the assembly lost much of its independence. By then, however, generations of colonists had gained valuable experience in self-government.
Hamestown's church served as the first informal statehouse into the 1630s, easily accommodating the small number of representatives. From the 1630s until the 1660s, government met in the private homes of several governors.
Finally, the assembly commissioned "at the public charge ? [to support] a public house to be built where [the royal governor-general] and the council may sitt for dispatching of public affairs and hearing causes." In 1665, the General Assemble convened in the first building specifically for the growing government. The foundations of that statehouse rest here below the Archaearium.
"The most convenient place ? " - John Pory, 1619