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The separate cities of Norfolk, Portsmouth, Newport News, the town of Berkley, plus the counties of Norfolk, Princess Anne, Nansemond, Isle of Wight, Elizabeth City, and Warwick ultimately reconciled their competing interests: Richmond reacted to the Hampton Roads initiative and proposed splitting the exposition.A large naval event would be held in Hampton Roads, but the land-based activities would be centered in Richmond.The process started in 1900 when the Business Men's Association of Williamsburg (predecessor to the modern Chamber of Commerce) proposed an official celebration of the 300th anniversary.The male-dominated business community took responsibility for the event, though the "patriot ladies" of the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities remained involved and played a key role in obtaining Federal and state subsidies.The first English colonial settlement in Virginia had been located upstream in James City County, but Jamestown lacked facilities to handle tourists.The Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities protected a portion of the island by 1907, but there were no water/sewage facilities or shelters for large numbers of visitors at the site.

Norfolk and Portsmouth business leaders feared commemorative activities would be concentrated on the Peninsula rather than on the south side of the James River, but were able to get all Hampton Roads communities to unite in one effort to ensured the commemoration would not be based in the state capital at Richmond.Private investors chose the location, and decided not to base the 1907 Jamestown Exposition at Jamestown.The seven-month exposition was presented at isolated, undeveloped Sewells Point, where expensive infrastructure had to be constructed.Funding shortages affected the initial development of the site, and many buildings were not completed with exhibits installed until more than a month after the April 26 opening day.The grand waterfront piers designed to welcome passengers arriving by steamboat were not completed until September, 1907, and the exhibition was complete only for its last six weeks until closing on November 30, 1907.

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