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This Week in Historic Alexandria | Newsletter | City of Alexandria

This Week in Historic Alexandria
City Museums and
Historic Sites
Other Historic Sites and Resources
This Week in
Alexandria History
The Baseball Kids

On September 19, 1953, the Federal government approved the transfer of lands at Jones Point to Alexandria and the National Park Service for public use.  The filled area adjacent to the Jones Point Lighthouse witnessed significant use decades earlier during World War I when the Virginia Shipbuilding Company began constructing major warships at the site. But the shipyard closed soon after the war ended and the land grew quiet until the early 1930s, when it was used as a Civilian Conservation Corps camp. Then, in 1933, an ambitious plan was unveiled by a local author to transform the former shipyard administration building and surrounding area into an unusual industrial attraction: the Children’s Toyland of America. Valerie McMahan purchased the site and announced the project to manufacture dolls, toys and books at the riverfront site in Alexandria, based on her popular book series, The Baseball Kids.

Concerned that many children had no place to pursue their sense of wonder — and that toys of the period were largely manufactured in Japan or Germany while Depression-era Americans went jobless — McMahan proposed to employ toymakers by the thousands at the Alexandria location. Within a year, new water mains, gas pipes and electricity were being laid at the site to service the necessary manufacturing processes. McMahan also let it be known that the new factory was to become the “children’s capitol of the nation,” and to that end she planned to erect a huge dome on top of the building, similar to that of the U.S. Capitol, where children and their parents would always be welcomed. Her extensive plans for the site included additional buildings for childhood displays, park areas and landscaping, and even a boat service connection with Washington, D.C.
The wistful plan for Alexandria’s Toyland was short-lived, however, running afoul of the Federal government’s plans for the area. In 1936 the U.S. Signal Corps established a communications center nearby, and in 1940, an executive order condemned the entire site for a secret government use.

On Sale Now
Paving the Streets in Alexandria

Six beautiful homes, built from the late 1700s to the early 1990s, will be open to the public on Saturday, September 26 for the 74th annual Tour of Homes in Historic Old Town, Alexandria. The tour, sponsored by The Twig, the junior auxiliary of Inova Alexandria Hospital, is expected to raise more than $30,000 for the hospital. While some of this year’s homes are of relatively new construction, others have been transformed from their original use, such as a warehouse or a market. Art collections, antiques, and eye catching interiors will be on display. Several homes also have breath-taking gardens that will also be open for the tour. Advance purchase tickets for the homes tour may now be purchased through September 23, 2015 for $35 per person online via the Twig’s website, www.thetwig.org or at the Ramsay House Visitor’s Center at 221 King Street.
Gadsby's Madison BallThe Office of Historic Alexandria (OHA), the comprehensive public history agency for the City of Alexandria, Virginia is pleased to announce two important new staff changes.  First, the appointment of Gretchen M. Bulova as the first Deputy Director of the department marks a new milestone in the 33 year history of the department.  Ms. Bulova has worked for OHA for over twenty years, first as City Archivist and most recently as the Museum Director of both Gadsby’s Tavern Museum and the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum.  Ms. Bulova’s new duties will focus on the development of new public projects, visitor services and the development of new revenue opportunities across OHA facilities.

Through the years, Gretchen Bulova has been a stalwart in providing innovative and creative programs at Alexandria’s museums and signature community events, always assisted by the efforts of Lisabeth Williams, former Curator II/Assistant Director at the same sites who has now been named Acting Director of Gadsby’s Tavern Museum. Liz Williams is known throughout the department as a master of administrative organization, technological implementation and keeping her gracious composure under periods of intense high stress!  Together, OHA’s own “dynamic duo” a/k/a Gretchen and Liz, has raised significant financial and volunteer resources to restore and preserve Gadsby’s Tavern, its historic urban Ice Well, and the Stabler-Leadbetater Apothecary Museum.  This great team has also coordinated a number of major programs and interpretive events in the city over many years. Their hard work was crucial in the 2012 designation, by the American Alliance of Museums, of the Office of Historic Alexandria and its eight museums and historic sites, as one of eight municipally operated “accredited museums systems” in the United States. Congratulations to both Gretchen and Liz in their new positions!

Gary Stephan's Ballroom DancingMonday, September 14 – Gary Stephans’ Art of Ballroom Dance
The Athenaeum, 201 Prince Street
Fun classes to learn to dance or improve your dancing skills: fox trot, waltz, tango, swing, salsa, merengue, rumba, cha-cha, and samba. All level of dancers are welcome, with or without a partner. Discover little techniques that most people never learn about and become a relaxed and proficient social dancer in these small, personalized dance lessons! Tickets are available for each session online as follows: Basic Techniques, $15 per person, 7 to 7:45 p.m.; Advanced Techniques, $15 per person, 7:45 to 8:30 p.m.; attend both sessions for best results! Free practice session from 8:30 to 9 pm. For more information, please visit garystephans@me.comor call 703-505-5998.Monday, September 14 – Alexandria-Caen Sister City Committee 
City Hall, 301 King St., Sister Cities Conference Room 1101
Regular monthly meeting, Free! 7 p.m. Please call 703-746-4554 for more information.Tuesday, September 15 – Historic Alexandria Resources Commission 
Lloyd House, 220 N. Washington St.
Regular monthly meeting, Free! 7:30 p.m. Please call 703.746.4554 for more information.

Wednesday, September 16 – Alexandria Archaeological Commission Meeting
Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, 134 N. Royal St.
Regular monthly meeting, Free! 6:30 p.m. Please call 703-746-4399 for more information.

Civil war hospitalThursday, September 17 – History Lecture: Medical Heroism in Alexandria
The Athenaeum, 201 Prince Street
During the Civil War, Alexandria became a Union occupied logistics and medical center. During the Civil War, the Athenaeum was employed as a Union hospital for a short time and later as the Headquarters of the Union Commissary General. Alexandria Historian Tom Schultz will discuss the heroism and challenges that doctors and nurses experienced in ministering to the wounded in Alexandria, and the advances in women’s rights and medical science as a result of their efforts. Free! 7 p.m. For more information, please visitwww.nvfaa.org or call 703.548.0035.

Resdiential Architecture ConferenceSaturday, September 19 – 2015 Del Ray Residential Architecture Conference
Mount Vernon Community School Auditorium
Conference will discuss Neighborhood History, Del Ray Pattern Book, How to Research the History of Your Own Home, Historic Property Tax Credits, Del ray Plaque Program and will include Walking Tours. Conference sponsored by Del Ray Citizens Association www.delraycitizens.org

Saturday, September 19 – A Scottish Heritage Weekend: Outlander Style!
Carlyle House Historic Park, 121 North Fairfax Street
During the Alexandria Arts Festival weekend, stop by Carlyle House for some Scottish fun, Outlander Style! In the morning, don’t miss a Scottish fashion show featuring dress from the time period when Jamie, Claire AND John Carlyle lived! Members of the Appin Regiment, an 18th century Scottish Living History group, will model the fashions and present demonstrations in weaving and dyeing at a Living History Village on the front lawn from 10 to 11 a.m; then enjoy entertainment from the Granfling School of Highland Dance from 11:15a.m. to 12 pm; next The Devil’s Tailors will perform a concert from 12:30 p.m. to-1:30 p.m.; followed by a performance of the City of Alexandria Pipe and Drums from 1:45 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. Delicious coffee and shortbread (baked by popular local “dessert destination,” The Dairy Godmother!) will be provided as refreshments and included in the ticket price of $15 per person. Children ages 5 and under may attend for free. Advance tickets must be purchased for the Fashion Show! Admission to the Carlyle House museum is FREE (suggested donation of $1) on Saturday only. Please call 703.549.2997 or email carlyle@nvrpa.org with questions or to reserve your spot at the fashion show or tea (on Sunday, September 20) or both! You may also purchase advance tickets online through the website: https://apm.activecommunities.com/novaparks/ Activity keyword: “Outlander”; processing fees of $3 per transaction will apply.

Carlyle HouseSunday, September 20 – A Scottish Heritage Weekend: Outlander Tea!
Carlyle House Historic Park, 121 North Fairfax Street
Do you love the Outlander books and/or the television show? Then come join us for tea on the Magnolia Terrace! Celebrate Scottish Heritage at the oldest stone house in Alexandria, home of John Carlyle. The cost is $30/person for the tea or $35/person for the tea plus a special Outlander accented tour of the museum! One lucky person will win a special Outlander-themed gift basket donated by The Scottish Gourmet and raffled off during the tea. Advance reservations are required for the tea. 11 a.m.  Please call 703-549-2997 or emailcarlyle@nvrpa.org with questions or to reserve your spot at the tea! You may also purchase advance tickets online through our website:https://apm.activecommunities.com/novaparks/ Activity keyword: “Outlander”; processing fees of $3 per transaction will apply.

Monday, September 21 – Alexandria Sister Cities Committee 
City Hall, 301 King Street, Sister Cities Conference Room 1101
Regular Monthly Meeting, Free! 7 p.m. Please call 703-746-4554 for more information.

Monday, September 21 – Public Records Advisory Commission 
City Hall, 301 King Street, Sister Cities Conference Room 1102
Regular monthly meeting, Free! 7:30 p.m. Please call 703.746.4753 for more information.

AthenaeumNow on Exhibit through October 25 – The Athenaeum Invitational 
The Athenaeum, 201 Prince Street
This is a theme-based show with both open call and invited submissions. The theme is Cole Porter’s “Don’t Fence Me In”. Jack Rasmussen, Director of the Kazan Art Center at American University will determine the works to win the $1,500 and $1,000 prizes. This exhibit is generously sponsored by TTR | Sotheby’s International Realty. Free! Open Thursday through Sunday, 12 Noon to 4 p.m. For more information, please visit www.nvfaa.org or call 703.548.0035.

Now on Exhibit – Journey to Be Free: Alexandria Freedmen’s Cemetery 
Alexandria Black History Museum, 902 Wythe Street 
A new exhibit tracing the 150-year history of the long-forgotten Freedmen’s Cemetery, its rediscovery and how the new Contrabands and Freedmen’s Cemetery Memorial was created at the site.  Free, but donations are appreciated. Tuesday to Saturday: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday and Monday: Closed.  For more information, please call 703.746.4356.

Now on Exhibit – Their Fates Intertwined: The Lees of Alexandria in the War of 1812 
Lee-Fendall House and Gardens, 614 Oronoco Street
A new exhibit on the experiences of the Lee family in Alexandria during the War of 1812 examines the contributions of Alexandria’s citizens during the conflict that led to the writing of our national anthem through the lives of this iconic Virginia family. For more information, please visitwww.leefendallhouse.org or call 703.548.1789.

Fort WardNow on Exhibit – Fifty Years of Collecting: An Anniversary Exhibit of Objects from the Fort Ward Collection 
Fort Ward Museum, 4301 West Braddock Road
In recognition of the 50th anniversary of the opening of Fort Ward Museum & Historic Park, this new exhibition offers a glimpse into the growth and holdings of the Museum’s fine Civil War collection.The exhibit features some rare items related to the Defenses of Washington, such as an 1862 panoramic drawing of Fort Albany by the soldier-artist William Lydston, a folding camp chair that belonged to an officer in the 1st Connecticut Heavy Artillery, and a Lambley’s portable copying machine used by an officer from the 57th Massachusetts Infantry.   Objects that interpret the Union occupation of Alexandria, such as a proclamation declaring martial law in the city, are also featured.  Examples of newly acquired objects are a field desk with personal belongings owned by a captain in the 107th New York Infantry, and a John Rogers statuary group, “Uncle Ned’s School,” which aimed to portray the efforts of newly freed African Americans to better their lives through education in the postwar years.

Fort Ward is the best preserved of the extensive network of Union forts and batteries known as the Civil War Defenses of Washington. Free! Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m.   For more information, please call 703.746.4848 or visit www.fortward.org.


Harlene Clayton
September 15, 2015 at 6:06 pm

Eve shared this with me & I enjoyed it…..very nice!
Is this weekly or monthly?
Harlene Clayton

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