Jamestown was the first permanent English colony, founded in 1607, on the land destined to become the United States of America. Two years after its founding, 440 of the 500 inhabitants died from disease and starvation. Although the settlement survived, it never shared in the growth and prosperity of the flourishing Virginia Tidewater. Instead, Jamestown, despite being the colonial capital, earned a notorious reputation as a disease-ridden, scraggly little village ill-befitting a wealthy American colony. After the statehouse burned for the fourth time, the capital was moved to Middle Plantation, now Williamsburg.

Today Jamestown only exists as in ruins and in the pages of history. Of the settlement's 17th century structures, only the Old Church Tower survives. Since 1934 research and excavation have exposed ruins and original foundations with brick walls, creating an approximate diagram of the original settlement.