Alexandria, Virginia’s Tours, Exhibits and Events
Bring PBS’ MERCY STREET to Life
PBS Civil War Medical Drama Inspired By
Real Events of Civil War Alexandria
Alexandria, VA— As PBS announces a second season for its Civil War medical drama, MERCY STREET, Alexandria rolls out new tours inspired by the series. More than two dozen new tours, exhibits and events are launching in Alexandria in 2016.
PBS’ first American drama in nearly a decade is inspired by real events of Civil War Alexandria, Virginia. MERCY STREET follows the lives of two volunteer nurses on opposite sides of the conflict; Mary Phinney (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a staunch New England abolitionist, and Emma Green (Hannah James), a naive young Confederate belle. The two collide at Mansion House, the Green family’s luxury hotel that has been taken over and transformed into a Union Army Hospital in Alexandria.
Just outside of Washington, DC, Alexandria was a border town between North and South and the longest Union-occupied city of the Civil War. Ruled under martial law, Alexandria was the central melting pot of the region, filled with civilians, female volunteers, doctors, wounded soldiers from both sides, free blacks, enslaved and contraband African Americans, prostitutes, speculators and spies.
This historic city celebrates the national spotlight on its heritage by presenting new visitor experiences for fans of the PBS series, MERCY STREET.
Eight MERCY STREET-inspired tour options offer distinctive experiences, with a varied collection of walking tours and even a tour by land and water. Organizations offering guided tours include DC Military Tours, Alexandria Colonial Tours and the Lee-Fendall House. The National Women’s History Museum will launch a tour beginning in June.
Spring is also the ideal time to visit the city’s historic sites to enjoy new exhibits and events inspired by the series. These visitor experiences uncover the real people behind the characters on the show, the realities of Civil War medicine, changing roles for women, and the breakthrough experience of enslaved African Americans claiming their freedom. Kimpton’s Hotel Monaco Alexandria is offering a “Have Mercy” package with MERCY STREET-inspired perks.
Located on the Potomac River waterfront just minutes from DC, Alexandria hums with a cosmopolitan feel against an extraordinary historic backdrop. With luxurious accommodations just steps from historic sites, galleries, boutiques and restaurants, visitors can turn a MERCY STREET excursion into a weekend getaway.
Find Alexandria experiences inspired by PBS’ MERCY STREET at
VISITOR EXPERIENCE DETAILS
Mercy in Alexandria Walking Tour
Public tour every Sunday at 1:30 p.m. (additional tour times coming soon)
Additional tours by appointment
Tour starts at Alexandria Visitors Center, 221 King St., Alexandria, VA 22314
DC Military Tours
Experience an inside access tour of 19th century Alexandria. Inspired by the PBS mini-series “Mercy Street,” accompany a trained military historian through Civil War-era Alexandria and learn the actual history behind the TV show. Get behind-the-scenes stories of locations where “Mercy Street” characters lived, worked and played.
“The Mercy Walk” Guided Tour
March 25, 26, 27 & April 1, 2, 3, 2016 at 2:30 p.m.
Alexandria Colonial Tours
Walk the same streets as the Green family and all of your favorite characters from “Mercy Street.”
Based on the PBS series, “Mercy Street,” Alexandria’s “The Mercy Walk” tour will give visitors and locals alike a feel for Alexandria and what it was like to live in an occupied city during the Civil War. This tour includes stops at the former Marshall House, the Confederate Statue, James Green’s furniture factory and the only portion of the Mansion House Hotel still standing today. Join us to hear the true stories of Alexandria, a true microcosm of the Civil War all within one city. Space is limited!
Contrabands & Freedmen Cemetery Memorial Tour
April 2, 2016 at 10 a.m.
Office of Historic Alexandria and the Alexandria Black History Museum
1001 S. Washington St., Alexandria, VA 22314
Join City Archaeologist Fran Bromberg and Black History Museum Director and PBS’ “Mercy Street” history consultant Audrey Davis as you learn about the history of contrabands buried in the cemetery, the fascinating archaeology behind its rediscovery, and how the site became a memorial.
Medical Heroism in Alexandria: Tour by Land and Water
April 2016 through Columbus Day; 2nd Saturday and 4th Friday of each month
Saturday tours at 2 p.m.; Friday tours at 3 p.m.
Start at the Alexandria City Marina
DC Military Tours
Explore the “Mercy Street” story by land and by water on this guided tour of Civil War Alexandria. Accompany a trained military historian from DC Military Tours by boat through Alexandria’s 19th-century seaport and then by land for an inside access look at period sites depicted on “Mercy Street,” including a Civil War hospital and other parts of the city’s Civil War landscape.
Beyond the Battlefield Walking Tour
May 14, July 9, September 10 & November 12, 2016
Tour starts at The Lyceum, 201 S. Washington St., Alexandria, VA 22314
Discover the real-life stories and locations of soldiers, citizens and former slaves that inspired the PBS drama “Mercy Street” in this walking tour of Old Town. Discover the challenges, triumphs and controversies of life behind the front lines in an occupied city during the Civil War. See the locations of hospitals, hotels, prisons and more that filled Alexandria during four years of conflict. Tour length is three hours and the route is approximately 1.75 miles. Parking is not available at The Lyceum’s lot for this program.
Women of Civil War Alexandria Tour
Presented by the National Women’s History Museum
June to October 2016
Alexandria was in a unique position during the Civil War. It was a city with Southern sympathies continuously occupied by the Union Army and virtually operating as a Northern supply depot due to its proximity to Washington, DC and its transportation infrastructure. The women who remained in Alexandria and those who came during occupation experienced the War not as a battle but a day-to-day way of life. This tour will explore the stories of a diverse group of women and their experiences living in Civil War Alexandria.
Occupied City: Civil War Alexandria Self-Guided Tour
The Lyceum-Alexandria’s History Museum
201 S. Washington St., Alexandria, VA 22314
Fans of PBS’ “Mercy Street” drama series will learn about the real history behind the show on this self-guided walking tour, which features significant Civil War Alexandria sites all within walking distance of The Lyceum, which was seized and used as a hospital during the war.
Ivy Hill Cemetery Self-Guided Tour
2823 Kings Cloister Circle, Alexandria, VA 22302
Ivy Hill Cemetery presents a self-guided tour on the Green family and Frank Stringfellow, who are featured in the PBS drama “Mercy Street.” Chartered in 1856, Ivy Hill Cemetery is the final resting place of the Green family and Frank Stringfellow. Guided tours will be available upon request. Maps for self-guided tours are available at the Ivy Hill Cemetery office from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Also available for download from Ivy Hill Cemetery’s website.
Who These Wounded Are: The Extraordinary Stories of the Mansion House Hospital
Carlyle House Historic Park
121 N. Fairfax St., Alexandria, VA 22314
From 1861-1865, the U.S. Army used Carlyle House, then the home of Emma Green and her family, and the adjacent Mansion House Hotel as a hospital and staff quarters. The people who lived and worked at this site in Alexandria and their real life stories have inspired the PBS television show, “Mercy Street.” The owner of the house and hotel, James Green, was one of the richest men in town and made a deep historical footprint on Alexandria.
Carlyle House’s exhibit features the factual story of the history of the site and its occupants. Upstairs, a new interpretation will explore the lives of these individuals through period hospital rooms and doctor/officer housing.
Green Family Exhibit
Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum
January to May 2016
107 S. Fairfax St., Alexandria, VA 22314
The Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary remained open and operational when Alexandria was occupied during the Civil War. The Green family and Union Quartermaster staff shopped there to purchase everything from laudanum to cologne. Today, visitors can take a guided tour and experience the historic space where occupied Alexandria came to shop. The exhibit features the purchases and stories of the Green family and the Union Quartermaster.
The Journey to be Free: Self-emancipation and Alexandria’s Contraband Heritage
Alexandria Black History Museum
Exhibit extended through May 8, 2016
902 Wythe St., Alexandria, VA 22314
During the Civil War, thousands of African Americans escaping slavery sought refuge behind Union lines in Alexandria, Virginia. The fugitives found freedom in Alexandria, but also a city under siege. The influx overwhelmed the city. Rampant disease and deprivation took their toll on the freedmen. A cemetery was created for those who had survived slavery, but did not live long in freedom. “The Journey to be Free” shows the legacy of Alexandria’s contraband community and the amazing story of their burial ground that was lost and rediscovered, now memorialized as the Contraband and Freedmen Cemetery.
Hotel vs. Hospital Exhibit
Gadsby’s Tavern Museum
134 N. Royal St., Alexandria, VA 22314
Learn the story of the fine hotel industry in Alexandria and how it quickly changed after the Civil War began. The City Hotel (today part of Gadsby’s Tavern Museum) was the only major hotel in Alexandria to remain open during the entirety of the war. The two other fine hotels in town, Mansion House and Marshall House, had closed. Guests will discover how tavernkeeper Samuel Heflebower was able to remain in business as he catered to the new customers in town.
“Mercy Street”-Inspired: The Alexandria Back Story
Kate Waller Barrett Branch Library
717 Queen St., Alexandria, VA 22314
The Alexandria Library’s Special Collections played an integral role in providing historically accurate research and information to the creators of PBS’ “Mercy Street.” Today, visitors can view these rare, one-of-a-kind articles, ads and other materials illustrating the particular challenges of living in Alexandria during the Civil War in a special exhibit at the Kate Waller Barrett Branch Library in Old Town.
Medical Care for the Civil War Soldier Exhibit
Fort Ward Museum
4301 West Braddock Rd., Alexandria, VA 22304
Fort Ward Museum has an ongoing exhibit that features original medical instruments and equipment from the Civil War period and information on Union Army hospital sites in Alexandria.
Alexandria’s Nurses & Hospitals During the Civil War
The Lyceum—Alexandria’s History Museum
201 S. Washington St., Alexandria, VA 22314
The Lyceum mounts an exhibit on the life of Clarissa Jones, a nurse at The Lyceum hospital during the Civil War. It will bring home to visitors the true story of an actual nurse in Alexandria during the war, drawing parallels with characters portrayed in the PBS drama “Mercy Street.” It will include references to the experiences of other Alexandria nurses at that time, such as Anne Reading, who actually worked in the Mansion House Hospital, and Jane Woolsey, who served at the Fairfax Seminary Hospital.
Mercy Street Uncovered: Archaeology in Alexandria
Alexandria Archaeology Museum
105 N. Union St., Studio #327, Alexandria, VA 22314
Exhibits include dioramas and period objects found during excavations, including a musket that was still cocked and loaded. For families, “meet” a Civil War drummer boy and try to decode a letter from a Southern spy.
Speak, Sister: Alexandrian Women’s Songs and Stories of the Civil War
March 10, 2016 at 7:30 p.m.
The Athenaeum, 201 Prince St., Alexandria, VA 22314
Local actors will read from diaries and letters of women who lived in Alexandria during the Civil War, and award-winning bluegrass band Dead Men’s Hollow will play songs of the Civil War.
Beyond the Call of Duty: Roles and Responsibilities of Civil War Nurses Lecture
Co-sponsored by Carlyle House and The Lyceum
March 29, 2016 at 7 p.m.
The Lyceum, 201 S. Washington St., Alexandria, VA 22314
Admission: $10; reservation required
Join Chris Foard MSN, RN (The Foard Collection of Civil War Nursing) for an in depth lecture on the diverse practices of male and female Civil War nurses. Discussion includes an important but largely neglected aspect of Civil War nursing—roles and responsibilities of nurses in relation to current practices of today. Lecture is based on historical analysis from letters, documents, books and diaries from The Foard Collection of Civil War Nursing. This event is co-sponsored by Carlyle House Historic Park (NOVA Parks) and The Lyceum (Office of Historic Alexandria) and will take place at The Lyceum, 201 S. Washington Street. Reservations are recommended. To order tickets, visit: https://apm.activecommunities.com/novaparks/Activity_Search/464.
Civil War Medicine Living History
April 23, 2016 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Rain date: April 30
Fort Ward Museum and Historic Site, 4301 West Braddock Rd., Alexandria, VA 22304
Fort Ward Museum & Historic Site will sponsor a Civil War medical living history program presented by Civil War medical historian and interpreter Von Barron, who portrays U.S. Army Regimental Surgeon Captain Turner Kitt in a field hospital setting that features a variety of medical tools and equipment of the era.
Civil War Ball
April 30, 2016 from 8-11 p.m.
Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, 134 N Royal St., Alexandria, VA 22314
Admission: $45 in advance; reservations required
Enjoy an evening from the 1860s in the historic ballroom at the Civil War Ball. The ball will include live music, dance instruction and period desserts. Period attire, either civilian or military, is encouraged. Dance classes for the ball will be held January 7, 14 and 21 from 7:30-9:30 p.m. Cost is $12 per class or $30 for the series.
Spies & Scones – A Special “History Mystery” Tea
May 21, 2016
Lee-Fendall House, 614 Oronoco St., Alexandria, VA 22314
Alexandria was filled with spies and during the Civil War. Enjoy a Victorian tea, learn about real life secret agents like Frank Stringfellow (portrayed in the PBS drama “Mercy Street,” then put your own powers of detection to the test to discover the spy in the room!
Surgeons & Citizens, Spirits & Soldiers
October 8, 2016
Lee-Fendall House, 614 Oronoco St., Alexandria, VA 22314
Explore how Americans dealt with the tragedy of the Civil War in this living history program. Visit a soldier facing his own death in a hospital. See a casket displayed in proper Victorian style, surrounded by the grieving family and friends of a lost loved one. Listen as a spiritualist tries to sell her services to those in need of hope and closure.
“Have Mercy” Package at Monaco Alexandria, a Kimpton Hotel
Available January 17-July 1, 2016
480 King St., Alexandria, VA 22314
Experience the real inspiration behind PBS’ TV drama “Mercy Street” in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia by booking the new “Have Mercy” package at Kimpton’s Hotel Monaco Alexandria. Stay in the heart of historic Old Town Alexandria at Hotel Monaco, located just three blocks from the former Mansion House Hotel and Carlyle House as depicted in the show, and enjoy “Mercy Street”-inspired amenities, such as:
• Deluxe guest room at the luxurious Hotel Monaco Alexandria with modern Civil War-inspired décor and rich Civil War history as the former location of the Marshall House where two of the first and most iconic deaths of the war occurred.
• Two handcrafted cocktails inspired by the Civil War era at adjacent restaurant, Jackson 20. “Lee’s Temptation” will feature Bulleit Rye, Sweet Vermouth, Fernet Branca and Flamed Orange Peel, while “Virginia Gentleman” will feature Buffalo Trace Whiskey, American Honey Liqueur, Angostura Bitters, Lemon and Ginger Beer.
• Two tickets to the Carlyle House Historic Park to learn more about the family and real events behind the PBS’s “Mercy Street.” Carlyle House and the adjacent luxury Mansion House Hotel, owned by the Green family, acted as a hospital and staff quarters during the Civil War and inspired the show’s characters and stories.
• 5 percent of proceeds from the package will be donated to the American Red Cross to help military members, veterans and families with emergency communications, training and support to wounded warriors and veterans.
Monaco Alexandria, a Kimpton Hotel’s “Have Mercy” package starts at $179 per night, not including tax. Package is available from January 17-July 1, 2016. To book the “Have Mercy” package, use rate code MERCY at www.monaco-alexandria.com or call 703-549-6080.
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ABOUT ALEXANDRIA, VA
Within eyesight of Washington, DC on the Potomac River waterfront, Alexandria, Virginia is nationally recognized for its acclaimed, chef-driven restaurants, bustling boutiques and dynamic arts set against a backdrop of 18th– and 19th-century architecture. Old Town Alexandria hums with a cosmopolitan feel and a walkable, dog-friendly lifestyle—a hidden gem tucked beneath the nation’s capital.