In 1934, the National Park Service acquired 1,500 acres of Jamestown Island, including New Towne. Since then, the NPS has used different methods to tell visitors about the town. After archaeologists unearthed numerous structures with brick foundations and cellars, they left the excavations open for visitors to see. Because reconstruction might damage fragile archaeological evidence and no one could say for sure what the original buildings looked like, they were not re-built on site. When the exposed foundations suffered from the elements, they had to be reburied.
To prepare for the 350th anniversary in 1957, archaeologist J. C. Harrington suggested that "the present foundations, which have been excavated and covered back over, be capped with a layer of concrete and then built up to a point above ground level by old brick obtained during the Jamestown excavation." "The whole town site," he proposed, "should be landscaped to give the feeling of openness under trees."
Originally painted white to signify that they were replications of footings below ground, these reconstructed foundations caused confusion as the paint faded.
Today's landscape, like those in the past, will no doubt be replaced by new efforts to help visitors gain a greater understanding of 17th-century Jamestown.
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