The archaeological remains of the 1617 church are fragmentary, but digital 3-dimensional (3-D) modeling has been used to visualize the building’s appearance as it looked when the first General Assembly met there from July 30 through August 4, 1619. The church is the first building being re-created as part of the Virtual Fort project, a larger initiative to show James Fort at significant periods in its history.
To create the model, the team analyzed the surviving archaeological and historical evidence in the context of 17th-century building practices and church architecture. Some features of the building, such as the sizes and locations of windows, will always be speculative, but the modeling process has led to an improved understanding of the building’s architecture. The interior furnishings are based upon surviving contemporary examples from English churches.
The space has been furnished as it would have been during the first General Assembly. Written accounts of the proceedings provide important clues as to the positioning of the governor, his council, and the burgesses within the church.
Click on the images below to see the progression of the modelling process, starting from a simple structure through to a fully-textured model.
This research model of the 1617 church shows the overall shape of the building.
The windows and doors are cut into the research model.
The underlying structural framing is added. The church is close-studded, an architectural style in which the studs and rafters are placed closer together than is typical in modern construction.
Plaster is added between the studs to complete the overall structure. Each step results in more detail within the model.
The geometric, research model is imported into a program called 3DS Max. This software allows the application of “textures,” which help to create a photorealistic model.
The architectural framing is also textured, so that the building can be shown in various stages of construction.
A bell tower is added to the western portion of the building, as well as a substantial entry on the south-west corner of the building.
This image shows the beginning stages of laying out the building’s interior spaces. The pews in the quire (choir) were where the burgesses sat during the General Assembly.
Temporary textures are applied to the floor to begin visualizing the interior spaces.
The wood floor is replaced with a detailed texture, while the brick texture is replaced with modeled brick for higher definition. The bar, which separates the quire (choir) from the body of the church, is added.
The pews have been textured and added back into the model. Lighting is also updated, as the space is taking shape. The palisade wall is now visible through the window.
Benches are added to the body of the church. Individual chairs and a table are placed in the chancel, where the Governor and his council sat during the General Assembly.