James City County’s capital is Williamsburg, which was once the capital of the English colony Virginia. The county is a thriving place today, offering attractions such as Colonial Williamsburg, Historic Jamestowne, and Busch Gardens and Water Country USA. The county is comprised of smaller towns such as Croaker, Lanexa, Lightfoot, and Toano. The towns just outside of Williamsburg in James City County are generally quiet rural and suburban neighborhoods and excellent places for family life.
James City County and Colonial History
In 1607, the first English Settlers in America landed in James City County and made their home on Jamestown Island, on the James River, now on the edge of Williamsburg, Virginia. Today, Jamestown Island and the vicinity are preserved by the National Park Service and the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Many celebrations are occurring celebrating Jamestown 2007 – America’s 400th Anniversary.The original English settlers crossed the Atlantic on three ships, the Susan Constant, the Godspeed, and the Discovery. During their early days of encampment, the Native Americans were friendly and even provided some provisions to Captain John Smith and his settlement.
There were many reasons why Jamestown Island was not an ideal location for the new settlement. Unclean well water was causing a great deal of illness and distress in the early years. When the food supply was low in the winter of 1610 many of the early colonists were starved or died of illness.
Yet after these early years of trial and tribulation, Jamestown still thrived as a port city in the new world. On the positive side, the first representative government was formed at Jamestown. Conversely, the first slave ships in this country landed in Jamestown, and slavery became law at the House of Burgesses in Jamestown and in the colonies by the late 1600s.
James City County has many historical sites dating to the colonial period. There are many things to celebrate with this year’s Jamestown 2007 – America’s 400th Anniversary.
Famous Americans from James City County
Among the most famous short-term residents of James City County, Thomas Jefferson was a student at the College of William and Mary. Captain John Smith, who oversaw the Godspeed’s first landing in Colonial Virginia, also lived in James City County, at Jamestown. Peyton Randolph, a resident of Williamsburg in colonial America, was President of the First Continental Congress. Edmund Randolph, also resided in Williamsburg. Randolph held three highly esteemed positions in early American government. He was the first Attorney General of the United States, Secretary of State, and the Governor of Virginia.
Historic Property, Land Grants, and Estate Properties
Because Jamestown, located in present day James City County, was once the capital of Virginia, many large land grants, usually in parcels of 100 acres, were made in James City County. In fact, many contemporary estates, luxury estates, and estate properties in James City County are located on land that was historically part of original colonial land grants.
The number of historic properties in James City County is significant. Though many historic properties are preserved by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation or other private, federal, or state agencies, there are also many historic homes that are still privately owned and well maintained. One of the largest landholders in James City County is the College of William and Mary, America’s second oldest college.
Family Entertainment in James City County
Today James City County is thriving. Busch Gardens and Water Country USA are fun and exciting for the whole family. Season passes are available to these theme parks, making it easier to visit more frequently. The College of William and Mary, Presidential Park, and many other historic landmarks provide educational opportunities, too.
Contemporary James City County
It is also the perfect place to raise a family or unwind from the stresses of urban life. Because there has been ongoing preservation by the National Park Service, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, and the Commonwealth of Virginia, parks, greenways, walking trails, beaches and other land is available for public use throughout James City County.
With so many high quality educational, cultural, and dining opportunities, James City County has become a popular location to retire, relocate, or purchase a second home. The county is conveniently located about an hour from Richmond and Norfolk, with international airports in both cities.
James City County Marinas
For the avid boating enthusiast, James City County offers a selection of marinas to choose from. The Jamestown Yacht Basin is nearby the Colonial Parkway on Powhatan Creek. A quick boat ride to the James River, this marina allows power boats and even jet skis to launch here. The Kingsmill Marina is also open to the public for docking and dining at the Deck, with about 15 transient boat slips to be used. Two Rivers Country Club Marina, located at the intersection of the James and Chickahominy Rivers is a membership based club, with some transient slips for guests of members. Both Waller Mill Park and Chickahominy Riverfront Park provide public boat launches, too.
James City County Golf Courses
For the golf enthusiast, Williamsburg and James City County offer courses with different challenges. Because James City County and Williamsburg residents enjoy a mild 4 season climate, golf can be enjoyed practically any season of the year. Following are some links to golf courses in the James City County and Williamsburg area: Kiskiack Golf Club, Croaker (http://www.williamsburggolf.com), Colonial Golf Club, Lanexa (http://www.golfcolonial.com), Williamsburg National Golf Club (http://wngc.com), Colonial Williamsburg – The Golden Horseshoe Golf Club (http://www.goldenhorseshoegolf.com/), Royal New Kent (http://www.traditionalclubs.com/ROYAL/).
James City County Winery
The Williamsburg Winery, located in Williamsburg, Virginia is a favorite for locals and visitors to the area. The Williamsburg Winery has been producing wine since 1988. The Williamsburg Winery is not far from downtown Williamsburg. Take Route 199 West towards Jamestown and follow the winery signs to vineyard tours, wine tasting, and more.
James City County Military Bases
Camp Perry, also called the Naval Construction Training Center, is located just outside Williamsburg, Virginia, in James City County. This private and secured base is a training site for various branches of the military and government. A Virginia Army National Guard station is also located in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Proximity to Major Cities
James City County is convenient to large urban areas such as the Washington DC Metro area, which is only two and a half hours away. James City County is approximately one hour’s drive to Richmond and about a forty-five minute drive to Norfolk. All of these urban areas offer international flights from airports.
Williamsburg-James City Public County Schools
James City County Schools are among the top schools in Virginia. Elementary, middle and high schools in Williamsburg-James City County, educate some of the highest achievers in the Commonwealth of Virginia. A 2005 study of the school district by MGT of America reported that “eighth grade students performed at or higher than the state average for all sections of the Standards of Learning tests.” Many Williamsburg-James City County students aspire to higher education upon graduation – and achieve their goal. The school system is well-known in the Hampton Roads area for providing some of the best public education available.
In the Williamsburg-James City County School District, there are eight elementary schools, three middle schools, and four high schools. Students are drawn from the City of Williamsburg and James City County.
James City County Private Schools
Private schools in James City County are also known for providing an outstanding education. Greenwood Christian Academy is associated with King’s Way Church and provides a Christian education for preschool and elementary children. The Williamsburg Christian Academy also provides a Christian education to preschool ages four and up, Elementary, Middle, and High School. Walsingham Academy, founded in 1947 by the Sisters of Mercy, offers a Catholic education to pre kindergarten, elementary, middle and high school children.
Colleges and Universities
The College of William and Mary is the second oldest college in the U.S. and is one of the most distinguished features in Williamsburg. Dating to the 17th Century, when Virginia was still a colony of the British state, many of the buildings are some of the earliest examples of Early American architecture in the United States. The College of William and Mary has programs for degree seeking students, and also a well developed adult education program for lifelong learners.
Thomas Nelson Community College is located in Hampton, Virginia, about 20 minutes from James City County. TNCC has a Historic Triangle Campus in Williamsburg, and offers community college classes at different locations in Williamsburg and James City County.
Jamestown 1607-2007 – 400 Years
The 400th anniversary of Jamestown 1607-2007 will have the same dignified and internationally recognized tone of the 350th anniversary celebration. Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip will be visiting in May 2007 to commemorate this important anniversary slated for May 11-13, 2007. The “Journey up the James” will commemorate the original voyage of the Godspeed, beginning with the first contact with Native Americans at Cape Henry in Virginia Beach and ending at present day Jamestown Island. All of these events denote the rich history of James City County.