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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 Historic Alexandria
George Washington, 1722

In a prelude of the gathering of war clouds between the American colonies and the British government, on January 15, 1775, George Washington reviewed troops of the local militia in Alexandria and selected a committee for the County of Fairfax to prepare for the possibility of conflict.  Two days later he recommended a new tax on county residents to support the militia and to purchase military supplies and equipment.
On Sale Now
Civil War Ball

On Saturday, January 23, enjoy an evening from the 1860s in the historic Gadsby’s Tavern ballroom at the Civil War Ball. The evening will include live music, dance instruction, and period desserts. Period attire, either civilian or military, is encouraged. Tickets are priced at $45 per person and advance reservations are required.
Mercy Street interview setInterested in learning more about the Civil War in Alexandria, the occupation of Alexandria, or the true stories of the individuals affected by war in Alexandria?  On Sunday, January 17 at 10 p.m., Alexandria will once again be in the spotlight of a public television audience with the premier of Mercy Street, a dramatization based on true events at a Civil War era hospital on North Fairfax Street.  In the late 1840s, the elegant Mansion House Hotel was built by James Greene extending southward from the old Bank of Alexandria building at Cameron Street, across the front lawn of the former home of town founder, John Carlyle.   In the decade after its construction the Mansion House was considered one of the finest hostelries in America, but soon after the war began the huge hotel was commandeered by Union forces and transformed into a military hospital to aid the sick and wounded returning from Virginia battlefields.  The tremendous number of casualties and illnesses among soldiers was so overwhelming, that many times the volume of patients was unable to be contained within the building, and men were triaged for days on the surrounding sidewalks.

The new series is focused on the darkest period in Alexandria’s history and many characters are based on actual residents of Alexandria during the war.  The show also accurately references the appearance and neighborhoods of the once genteel Virginia town, and captures the desperation and fear of those who sought refuge in the city behind Union lines, as well as those who walked a fine line between their allegiance to the occupying Union forces or the Confederate sympathizers of the Southern port.

The Office of Historic Alexandria (OHA), in conjunction with its community heritage partners, will be hosting multiple programs and special events associated with the show over the coming months, in anticipation of welcoming new visitors to our city interested in this new docudrama.
In addition, OHA and partnering museum shops will be offering a new selection of books related to the new Mercy Street series.  Participating shops include, the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum, The Lyceum, Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, the Historic Alexandria Museum Store at the Old Town Hilton, the Alexandria Black History Museum, Fort Ward Museum, the Alexandria Visitor Center, and the Carlyle House. These retail locations will also be carrying the official PBS Mercy Street Companion Book once it is released in February, and it be available for the special February 4th lecture at The Lyceum by the author.  The shops will also carry the official DVD of the 6 part-series.

Please visit the PBS webpage for more information about the show, and Visit Alexandria’s “Mercy Street”webpage for related upcoming events and activities in Alexandria.  Of course, all events will be highlighted in future editions of THIS WEEK IN HISTORIC ALEXANDRIA over the coming months.

Wednesday, January 13 – Alexandria Historic Restoration and Preservation Commission Lloyd House, 220 North Washington Street 
Regular monthly meeting, Free! 7 p.m. Please call 703.746.4554 for more information.Thursday, January 14 – Civil War Ball Dance Classes
Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, 134 North Royal Street
In preparation for the Civil War Ball on the 23rd, learn the waltz, polka, Virginia Reel and more from an expert dance master. Tickets are priced at $12 per class or $30 for the series (January 7, 14, 21). Reservations are recommended.7:30 to 9:30. Please call 703.746.4242 for more information.Thursday, January 14 – Second Thursday Live: Meigs Hodge 
The Athenaeum, 201 Prince Street
Meigs Hodge explores delta and Chicago blues through the music of Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, and more, as well as contemporary standards and original compositions. Tickets are priced at $15per person.  7 p.m. For more information, please visit www.nvfaa.org or call 703.548.0035.Lecture: History of Fort MyerSaturday, January 16 – Lecture: The History of Fort Myer
Alexandria Archaeology Museum, 105 N. Union Street, Suite #327
This delightful book boasts more than 200 vintage photographs and memories of days gone by. Overlooking Washington, DC, Fort Myer holds a commanding view of America’s capital. Built in 1863 from the Custis-Lee estate, one of 70 defensive Civil War fortifications of the capital, this historic US Army post was known as Fort Whipple. As the war ended and reconciliation began, only this fort remained and was later renamed to honor the US Army’s first signal officer, Brig. Gen. Albert J. Myer. These acres of Arlington Heights are distinguished by unique events, including the beginnings of military aviation, the Army Cavalry showcase, “The Three Sisters,” and the National Weather Bureau. During World War I, Army officers trained here to fight “Over there,” and today two units call Fort Myer home: the Army Band (“Pershing’s Own,” since 1942) and the 3rd Infantry (“The Old Guard,” since 1948). Photographs and text present the evolution of this national landmark in its first 100 years, including its buildings, people, and events. Free, but reservations required. 10 a.m. to 12 noon.  For more information, please click here or call 703.548.1789.

R.E. Lee CampSunday, January 17– R. E. Lee Camp Hall Museum Open House
R.E. Lee Camp Hall Museum, 806 Prince Street
As a prelude to the premier of Mercy Street and in honor of the 209th anniversary of the birth of Robert E. Lee, learn about Alexandria’s unique place in the history of the War Between the States.  View Lee family items and War relics of the 17th Virginia Regiment.  Meet Robert E. Lee as interpreted by Al Stone of Lee’s Lieutenants.  Learn about one of Alexandria’s most famous sons.  Admission is free, but donations to maintain the private museum are greatly appreciated.  12 noon to 3 p.m. For more information, please contact relcamphall@hotmail.com .

Monday, January 18 – Annual MLK Jr Poster Exhibition and Program
City Hall, 301 King Street, City Council Chamber, 2nd Floor
The City of Alexandria honors the memory and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with its annual Poster Exhibition and Program. Posters will be on view from Alexandria City Public School students in the Vola Lawson Lobby of City Hall from January 18, 2016 through February 29, 2016. The Students’ Recognition Program will be held on the first day in the City Council Chambers on the second floor of City Hall from 1 to 2:15 p.m., with a reception immediately following in the Vola Lawson Lobby on the first floor from 2:15 to 3 p.m. Sponsors are The Alexandria Society for the Preservation of Black Heritage, Inc., Alexandria Black History Museum, Alexandria Commission for the Arts, Alexandria City Public School Art Teachers, and the Office of Equity and Cultural Competency. This program is free and open to the public.

The 2016 exhibition will display students’ illustrations of their own family’s struggles and journeys to reach Alexandria, perhaps from another country or situation. With the theme: “Journeys: Your Road to Alexandria,” students answered the question, “How did you come to Alexandria?” Were your ancestors settlers, brought here as slaves, immigrants looking for opportunity or freedom? The story of our city begins with journeys from all over the world. The struggle for freedom and equality begins with sharing our experiences and stories with each other. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life-long work for civil rights in America was a journey to freedom for justice and respect.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Poster Exhibition started as a contest in 1990. It was created by the Alexandria Society for the Preservation of Black Heritage, Inc. (ASPBH), which highlighted the art work of Alexandria City Public School students. The ASPBH is the friends group for the Alexandria Black History Museum (formally known as the Alexandria Black History Resource Center). Under the leadership of two memorable society presidents, Harry Burke and Carlton A. Funn Sr., the contest grew from a small exhibit and program held at the Alexandria Black History Museum, to a larger exhibition held in the Vola Lawson Lobby of City Hall in January and February of each year. In addition to the exhibition, a formal program is held in City Hall honoring the legacy of Dr. King. In 2013, the contest became a Memorial Exhibition honoring the late ASPBH President Carlton A. Funn, Sr. In 2014, the exhibition and program returned to City Hall. The 2016 posters will remain on view in the Vola Lawson Lobby through the month of February. Free! 1 to 3 p.m. For more information, please call 703.746.4706.

Monday, January 18 – 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.Now on Exhibit – Notes on the State of Virginia
The Athenaeum, 201 Prince Street
Suzanne Stryk’s works are a series of assemblages inspired by Thomas Jefferson’s book Notes on the State of Virginia. She travelled the state and visited places he described, met with local guides, and created these works based on her reflections. The work is both artistically excellent and appealing to anyone interested in the history and ecology of Virginia. 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.

Now 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.

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