This Week in Historic Alexandria 10.3.16 | Newsletter | City of Alexandria


What’s New in Historic Alexandria

screen-shot-2016-10-03-at-2-38-46-pmAs part of the City’s commitment to preserving African American burial areas within Fort Ward Park, the  Office of Historic Alexandria has recently conserved three 19th century grave markers in what is called “The Old Graveyard” on the east side of the park.  One of the stones, that had once identified the burial site of Cornelia Spence, had broken in half and the pieces lay for years adjacent to a tree on the edge of the cemetery.  Spence was a servant at Episcopal High School who died on October 13, 1897.  The school’s Headmaster, Launcelot M. Blackford, wrote in his diary that day that:

“At 8:30 p.m. had a painful shock. Ur(sp.) good faithful nurse of a year past fell at a wash tub in the kitchen dead. The truth was of course at first obscure, but we had taken it in before the doctor arrived, and within an hour the lifeless body had left the house. . . .Her loss is a real personal grief to me.”

Blackford later sent a wreath to Spence’s funeral, held at St. Cyprian’s Church that once stood within “The Fort” African American community that once was located at Fort Ward Park, and she was buried behind the small house of worship.

Spence’s gravestone was carefully repaired by mason expert Howard Wellman, who had previously repaired a damaged gravestone for OHA in African American Heritage Park off Holland Lane.   Although the exact located of Spence’s grave is unknown, the restored stone was reset within the burial area at a representative spot where no other grave is located.  Two other stones within the small cemetery, still set at their original grave locations, were also professionally cleaned by Mr. Wellman to remove decades of grime and pollutants.


Wednesday, October 5 – CANCELLED-Lecture-The Journal of Anne Reading 
The Lyceum, Alexandria’s History Museum, 201 South Washington Street
This event has unfortunately been cancelled due to illness. If you have registered for this event, you will receive a refund automatically. For more information, please call 703.746.4994.

Bob and JeanneThursday, October 6 – Fall Concert at the Lloyd House 
Lloyd House, 220 North Washington Street
Pack a picnic and blanket or purchase food and beverage on site. Enjoy maritime music of Bob Zentz and Jeanne MacDougal. The concerts are free and open to the public. Tours of historic Lloyd House will be available during the event. Free! 5 to 7 p.m., rain or shine (concert will be moved indoors)! For more information, please call 703.746.4554.

Thursday, October 6 – USAF Band Fall Chamber Series at the Lyceum
The Lyceum, Alexandria’s History Museum, 201 South Washington Street
An evening of music for Clarinet featuring members of the Concert Band, no reserved seats, first-come, first seated. Free! 7:30 to 9 p.m. For more information, please visit www.usafband.af.mil.

Saturday, October 8 – Apothecary Open House
Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum, 105-107 South Fairfax Street
In recognition of October’s designation as National Pharmacy Month, the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum will host a free open house. Free! 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, please visit www.apothecarymuseum.org  or call 703.746.3852.

The AthenaumNow on Exhibit through November 6 – Athenaeum Invitational: Oh! The Joy! 
The Athenaeum, 201 Prince Street 
The Athenaeum Invitational celebrates the arts. It is an annual theme-based event featuring works of both specially invited artists and works selected through a call for submission. The 2016 theme asks artists to select on a moment of pure joy–inspired by the Lewis and Clark expedition. 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 – Medical Care for the Civil War Soldier  
Fort Ward Museum, 4301 West Braddock Road
See “What’s New” segment above. 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.

Now on Exhibit – Hotel vs. Hospital
Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, 134 North Royal Street 
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 at 134 North Royal Street) 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 (transformed into a massive Civil War hospital) and Marshall House (site of the first Northern and Southern deaths due to violence in the Civil War), had closed. Guests will discover how tavern keeper Samuel Heflebower was able to remain in business as he catered to the new customers arriving in Alexandria.
For more information, please call 703.746.4242.

Mansion HouseNow 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 to 4 p.m. For further information please visit www.carlylehouse.org or call 703.549.2997.

The LyceumNow 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 – 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.

This Week in Historic Alexandria

Fort Ward Park

On October 3, 1953, the Alexandria City Council appointed a committee to study the condition of Civil War forts remaining in the city, to determine the feasibility of acquiring and restoring one fort in time for the centennial of the American Civil War in 1961. Eventually the decision was made to proceed with the restoration of the Northwest Bastion of Fort Ward, and to surround it with a public park located on Braddock Road the new West End of Alexandria. The site was within the area annexed from Fairfax County in 1952.

On Sale Now

Female Stranger

On the evening of Friday, October 14, join Port City Brewery and Gadsby’s Tavern Museum at The Female Stranger 200th: Happy Hour and Quest, to honor the 200th anniversary of the death of
Alexandria’s most famous unknown grave occupant.  At 6 p.m., start the evening in Gadsby’s Tavern Courtyard, where you’ll enjoy light refreshments and a glass of Port City’s  Long Black Veil IPA (additional beer available for purchase through a cash bar). Then if you dare,  dive deeper into the Female Stranger story as you try to unravel the mystery! Meet major players in the story and reach
your own conclusions about her identity. Includes a shuttle to St. Paul’s Cemetery to visit the grave of this famous local legend. Space is limited.  Tickets are priced at $25 per person for the Happy Hour 6 to 8 p.m., or  $75 per person which includes Happy Hour 6 to 10 p.m., two drink tickets, and heavy appetizers. (Please arrive no later than 8 p.m.). Proceeds from the evening
support the Museum’s educational programs.

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