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This Week in Historic Alexandria 2.17.16 | Newsletter | City of Alexandria

This Week in Historic Alexandria
City Museums and
Historic Sites
Other Historic Sites and Resources
This Week in Historic Alexandria
Mansion House

On February 17, 1859 Alexandria’s famous Mansion House Hotel reopened after a major refurbishment by hotelier and cabinetmaker, James Green.  Green built the hotel in 1845 across the front yard of the home of one of Alexandria’s founders, John Carlyle, soon after he acquired the property.  He moved his family into the Carlyle homestead and developed the new hotel in one of the finest hostelries on the East Coast, prompting a major redo after over a decade of wear.  But just over two years later, the Civil War broke out and the massive hotel, with a dumb waiter big enough to vertically transport a sick or wounded soldier, was confiscated by the Union Army for use as a military hospital.  The elegant hotel, hastily transformed into a blood-splattered center of misery and hope, is depicted in the new PBS television series,Mercy Street, presented Sunday evenings at 10 p.m.
On Sale Now
Winter Warmer Tea

Enjoy the warmth and hospitality of Gadsby’s Tavern Museum at the next Winter Warmer Tea on March 6! Choose from a variety of 18th-century desserts while you sip John Gadsby’s special blend of tea or take a cup of American Heritage Chocolate. Historic guest Rebecca Ramsey Reese (early 20th century preservationist) will catch you up on the latest Alexandria news during the tea. Seatings at 3:00 and 3:15 p.m. Arrive early for the 2:15 or 2:45 p.m. FREE tour before your tea.Tickets are priced at $35 per person.  For more information please call 703.746.4242.
Mercy Street

Explore the Sites and Stories that Inspired PBS’ new dramaMercy Street, inspired by real events in Civil War Alexandria, Virginia! Explore the real historic sites and stories in Alexandria, with more than two dozen new tours, exhibits and events featured at ACVA website.
Fort Ward Museum management PlanThe Office of Historic Alexandria is pleased to announce the appointment of a new study group, the Fort Ward Interpretive Plan Committee, to assist and advise the City on the development of a long-term interpretation strategy for Fort Ward Park’s natural, cultural and historic heritage. OHA has accepted ten applications from members of the greater Alexandria community to serve on this new committee, comprised of recognized experts in the following professional fields or as representatives of the following organizations:

Experts on the American Civil War and military history:  B. Franklin Cooling, Ph.D.; Kim Holien

Expert of the “Defenses of Washington” system of forts and batteries which protected the nation’s capital during the Civil War:  Douglas Coleman, J.D.

Member of the Friends of Fort Ward non-profit organization:  Charles Ziegler

Member of the Fort Ward and Seminary African American Descendants Society non-profit organization: Adrienne Washington

Expert in African American History, museum professional and descendant of an individual known to have lived and/or been interred within Fort Ward Park: David Taft Terry, Ph.D.

Expert in African American history, culture and cultural resources (with a desired concentration on the Civil War, Reconstruction and Civil Rights): Mary Furlong Minkhoff, Ph.D.

Educator associated with the fields of anthropology, history or the social sciences:  Krystyn Moon, Ph.D.

Two at large members with an interest and understanding of the unusual history of Fort Ward Park:  Carole Johnson; Rev. Gideon Pollach

The Fort Ward Interpretive Committee replaces the former Fort Ward History Work Group and is an advisory committee appointed by the Office of Historic Alexandria, as recommended in the Fort Ward Management Plan, adopted by the Alexandria City Council in January 2015.  Meetings of the new committee will be held monthly or bi-monthly as needed, at Lloyd House, 220 North Washington Street, on the second Thursday of the month beginning March 11 from 7:30 to 9 p.m. All meetings are open to the public.

Tuesday, February 16 – Historic Alexandria Resources Commission
Lloyd House, 220 North Washington Street
Regular monthly meeting.  Free! 7:30 to 9 p.m. For more information, please call 703.746.4554.Wednesday, February 17 – Alexandria Archaeological Commission
Alexandria Archaeology Museum, Torpedo Factory Art Center, 105 North Union St., Suite 327
Regular monthly meeting.  Free! 7 to 9 p.m. For more information, please call 703.746.4399.Saturday, February 20 – Java Jolt-Archaeological Use of Metal Detectors
Alexandria Archaeology Museum, Torpedo Factory Art Center, 105 North Union St., Suite 327
Treasure hunters/collectors (avocational metal detectorists) have extensively used metal detectors for some time and those unenlightened activities have tainted their less destructive scientific and pedagogical applications. When used in a systematic and controlled manner, metal detectors of quality may have particularly insightful results in many archaeological situations in conjunction with, and over and above, current/traditional survey and excavation schemes.
This presentation by Mark Michael Ludlow M.A. RPA, will de-mystify the technologies and the machinery and will further demonstrate their simple use and applications, with an emphasis on simple, uncomplicated, and the immediate use of the equipment. The proper and efficient archaeological usage of the equipment will be demonstrated using a recent case study where extensive standard test pits (STPs) were first used and then similarly systematic metal detecting was subsequently utilized on the same site. An additional case study will demonstrate the effectiveness of using hobbyist metal detectorists in archaeological projects. The illustrated lecture is sponsored by the Friends of Alexandria Archaeology and light refreshments will be served. Free, but reservations are required.  10 a.m. to 12 noon. For reservations or more information, please call 703.746.4399.Saturday, February 20 – Curator’s Tour: John Carlyle and Slavery
Carlyle House Historic Park, 105 North Fairfax Street
Join us for a specialized tour discussing the lives of the enslaved individuals who lived and worked at Carlyle House. The tour will be led by the Curator of Education and will last about an hour. Tickets for the general public are priced at $10 per son, and $5 for Friends of Carlyle House. 1 p.m. For more information, please visit www.carlylehouse.org or call 703.549.2007.

Saturday, February 20 – From Slavery to Freedom Tour
Lee-Fendall House and Gardens, 614 Oronoco Street
This special tour interprets the Lee-Fendall House from the perspective of its enslaved inhabitants, exploring the unique experiences of slavery in the city. Hear the true stories of “contrabands,” as seen in the PBS drama “Mercy Street.” The tour will include special access to areas which are not regularly open to the public. Tickets are available in advance for $8 through the museum’s Online Store, or for $12 at the door.  FREE for members! 1 p.m. For more information, please visit www.leefendallhouse.org or call 703.548.1789.

Women of AlexandriaMonday, February 22 – Lecture: Women of Alexandria, from Antebellum to the 20th Century
The Athenaeum, 201 Prince Street
Alexandria spent four years as an occupied city during the Civil War. During that time, daily life became quite different for residents who remained in the city, and in many cases, the war changed the course of women’s lives.Women of Alexandria, from Antebellum to the 20th Century will illuminate an important side of the city’s history that has been under-investigated: the effect of the Civil War on the lives of Alexandria’s women. Free, but donations gladly accepted. 7 p.m. This program generously supported by a grant from Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. For more information, please visit www.nvfaa.org or call 703.548.0035.

Now on Exhibit – Who These Wounded Are: The Extraordinary Stories of the Mansion House Hospital
Carlyle House Historic Park, 121 North Fairfax Street
Come see the site that inspired Mercy Street, the new PBS series inspired by real events that took place at Carlyle House. The six-episode program revolves around the doctors, nurses, and patients of Mansion House Hospital, a former luxury hotel owned by James Green, a prominent Alexandria businessman who resided in Carlyle House.
James Green purchased Carlyle House and the adjacent Bank of Alexandria in 1848. While living in Carlyle House with his family, he converted the Bank Building into the successful Mansion House Hotel. The hotel thrived, and Green expanded it in the 1850s. In November of 1861, the Union Army took over both the hotel and the mansion, turning the hotel into a hospital and the house into doctor and officer housing. The new exhibit recreates the days of Union occupation and tells the true stories of those who lived and worked here during the war. This is where Mercy Street really happened.  Tuesday through Saturday 10 am to 4 p.m.; Sunday, 12 p.m. –to 4 p.m. For further information please visit www.carlylehouse.org or call 703.549.2997.

Now on Exhibit – The Lyceum:  175 Years of Local History
The Lyceum, Alexandria’s History Museum, 201 South Washington Street
This new exhibition highlights the history of The Lyceum, as well as its role today as a place for exploring Alexandria’s past.  On view in the museum’s Coldsmith Gallery, the historical objects and images featured represent The Lyceum, the community at work, and commemorations and celebrations.  Throughout the exhibition, visitors are invited to “be the curator” and think about why the various artifacts are in museum’s collection, and about how these tangible representatives of the past help tell the story of Alexandria’s history.

Museum visitors can also explore artifacts relating to commemorating or celebrating something important in someone’s life, or that serve as a memento representing an organization, business, or event.  For example, five World War II service medals from a local soldier are on view, as well as a china pitcher promoting William Henry Harrison’s campaign for the presidency, and a colorful hand-worked quilt commemorating the Bicentennial of the American Revolution in 1976.  The Lyceum:  175 Years of Local History includes a variety of items providing a glimpse into different types of work in Alexandria since the community was founded in the 18th century.  Objects range from circa 1796 wares marked by Alexandria silversmith Adam Lynn, a circa 1880 dresser manufactured by James F. Muir and Brothers, to a collage of original photographs – circa 1970 — documenting the Alexandria, Barcroft & Washington Rapid Transit Company.

Open Monday through Saturday 10 am to 5 p.m. and Sundays 1 to 5 p.m.   For more information call 703.746.4994, or see www.alexandriahistory.org.

Now on Exhibit – Wings from Chains
The Athenaeum, 201 Prince Street
Wings from Chains is an open call competition inviting artists to consider women’s roles and responsibilities in society – yesterday, today, and tomorrow – and to explore the transformation from oppression to liberation, shame to pride, and drudgery into art. 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 am 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 visit www.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 am to 5 p.m., and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m.   For more information, please call 703.746.4848 or visitwww.fortward.org.

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