About Town / News

This Week in Historic Alexandria 10.12.16 | Newsletter | City of Alexandria


OHA RentalsIt may only be early fall, but it’s not too early to start thinking about upcoming holiday entertaining.  The Office of Historic Alexandria (OHA) maintains a variety of elegant spaces for private events of any size in our City’s great museums.  From a small dinner party for six at Lloyd House, to a large office party for 100 at The Lyceum, OHA facilities offer beautiful décor and period ambiance, all at affordable prices.  OHA special event coordinators will work with you to make your event one to remember.  For more information on private rental events, facilities, rates and reservations, please click here. 
Wednesday, October 12 – Alexandria Historical Preservation and Restoration Commission 
Lloyd House, 220 North Washington Street
Regular monthly meeting. Free! 8 a.m. For more information, please call 703.746.4554.Footsteps tot he PastThursday, October 13 – Ghost Stories of Historic Alexandria!
Alexandria Archaeology Museum, Torpedo Factory Art Center, 105 N. Union Street, Suite 327
Join us at the Alexandria Archaeology Museum and hear about the ghosts that haunt Old Town Alexandria.  Our special guest will be from Alexandria’s Footsteps to the Past and will recount stories of paranormal activity at Alexandria’s historic landmarks.  This event is part of the Torpedo Factory Art Center’s Second Thursday Art Night, from 6 -9 p.m., when the theme of the night will be “Day of the Dead.”  All events are free and open to the public. Special presentations at 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. For more information about Second Thursday activities, please visit www.torpedofactory.org. For more information about Ghost Tours in Old Town, please visit www.footstepstothepast.com

Thursday, October 13– Fort Ward Interpretive Plan Committee
Lloyd House, 220 North Washington Street
Regular monthly meeting. Free! 7:30 p.m. For more information, please call 703.746.4554.

Thursday, October 13– 2nd Thursday Live: The Retrocessionists 
The Athenaeum, 201 Prince Street 
An evening of off-the-cuff comedy with The Retrocessionists, a local improv group. Participate by offering scenarios this talented group will turn into skits and games for your enjoyment. Cash bar starts at 7:30, take your seat at 8. Tickets are priced at $15 per person. .For more information, please visit www.nvfaa.org or call 703.548.0035.

Friday, October 14 – Female Stranger 200th: Happy Hour & Quest
Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, 134 North Royal Street 
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 from  6 to 8 p.m., or $75 per person which includes Happy Hour from 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. For more information please call 703.746.4242.

Octagon HouseSaturday, October 15 – Java Jolt Lecture: The Octagon House
Alexandria Archaeology Museum, Torpedo Factory Art Center, 105 N. Union Street, Suite 327
From 1856 to 1866 an octagonal house stood on the grounds of the First Baptist Church at 2932 King Street. For its short existence, the unique house played a remarkable role during a turbulent time in Alexandria’s history. Built in 1856 by Sarah W. Hall, a cultivated and refined New Yorker, who relocated her family to the Alexandria area, the house’s design and concrete construction were unusual in Northern Virginia.

After the outbreak of the Civil War in the spring of 1861, the house’s location along Leesburg Turnpike and in the vicinity of several Union Army fortifications led to its use as a headquarters by several Union regiments and as a regimental hospital. In particular, the Octagon House was associated with U.S. Brigadier General John Sedgwick (1813-1864) and Amy Morris Bradley (1823-1904), a remarkable nurse, whose abilities led her to the United States Sanitary Commission where she rose through the ranks to become Special Relief Agent. In that capacity she transformed makeshift army hospitals from unsanitary camps into clean, efficiently-run hospitals.

The house burned to the ground in 1866. As all above-ground physical traces of it disappeared, the house’s history all but faded as well. Julia Claypool’s narrative will weave together the fascinating history and people associated with an all but forgotten landmark.

Ms. Claypool, a historian and cultural resources planner, surveys buildings and writes architectural narratives and prepares historical and architectural documentation. She is the former Historic Site Administrator and Director of the Carlyle House Historic Park in Alexandria.  Free, but advance reservations are required.  The lecture is sponsored by Friends of Alexandria Archaeology (FOAA) in celebration of Virginia Archaeology Month.  For more information, or to make reservations, please email archaeology@alexandriava.gov or call 703.746.4399.

Lee-Fendall HouseSaturday, October 15 – “Beyond the Battlefield” Walking Tour
The Lyceum, 201 South Washington Street 
This guided walking tour of Civil War sites in historic Old Town is sponsored by the Lee-Fendall House. The tour will begin at 10:00 AM outside The Lyceum at 201 South Washington Street. Participants will see locations and stories associated with soldiers, citizens, and the enslaved, including the occupation of Alexandria and emancipation. Stops on the tour will include locations to be featured in the upcoming PBS drama, “Mercy Street,” which airs in January 2016. The tour will last approximately 2.5 hours and the tour route is approximately 1.75 miles. Participants are encouraged to wear comfortable shoes and bring bottled water.  Tickets are $15 in advance through the museum’s Online Store, or $20 on the day of the program. Tour space is limited, so the purchase of tickets in advance is highly recommended. FREE for LFH Members! 10 a.m.  For more information, please visit www.leefendallhouse.org or call 703.548.1789.

Saturday, October 15 – “We’ve Been Burned”: Firefighting in Civil War Walking Tour 
Friendship Firehouse Museum, 105 S. Alfred Street
When Virginia joined the Confederacy, Union troops occupied Alexandria and many municipal functions were taken over by the U.S. Army. This walking tour will explore firefighting during the Union occupation. Were firefighters allowed out after curfew? What happened to the firehouses and equipment? These questions and many others will be answered as tour participants visit the site of four local fire houses, and learn a great deal of firefighting and Civil War history. Best for ages 10 and up. Tickets are priced at $6 for adults; $4 for ages 10-17; and reservations are required, as space is limited. 1 to 3 p.m. For more information, please call 703,746.4994.

Saturday, October 15 – Outdoor Photography Walking Tours of Lee Sites
Lee-Fendall House and Gardens, 614 Oronoco Street
Join photography expert Karinia Cusick for a look at Lee family sites in Old Town while learning how to master your digital camera for outdoor pictures.  The tour will start with a tour of the Lee-Fendall House.  Tickets are price from $10. To register, please click here.  3:30 p.m. For more information, please visit www.leefendallhouse.org or call 703.548.1789.

Monday, October 17 – Alexandria-Caen Sister City Committee
Alexandria City Hall, Council Work Room, 2nd Floor, 301 King Street
Regular monthly meeting. Free! 8 a.m. For more information, please call 703.746.4554.

Monday, October 17 – Alexandria Sister Cities Committee
Alexandria City Hall, Sister Cities Conference Room 1101, 301 King Street
Regular monthly meeting. Free! 8 a.m. For more information, please call 703.746.4554.

Monday, October 17 – Public Records Advisory Commission
Alexandria City Hall, Sister Cities Conference Room 1102A, 301 King Street
Regular monthly meeting. Free! 8 a.m. For more information, please call 703.746.4753.

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 visit www.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.

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 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.

Freedmen CemeteryNow 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.

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

Civil War Balloon

On October 17, 1861, the Union army launched a balloon flight near the City Gas Works at 400 N. Lee Street.  Although ballooning had developed decades before, the Civil War was the first military use of such craft, which were eventually used by both sides in the conflict. Thaddeous Lowe fabricated special balloons of tough materials for military service, and often emblazoned them in bright colors and graphics designed to deplete the morale of the opposing army, who were unable to destroy the balloons due to their staging well behind enemy lines and height potential of 1,000 feet. This early experiment in the military use of hot-air balloons was developed to provide aerial reconnaissance of enemy troop movements, artillery and camp areas in the regions surrounding Alexandria.
On Sale Now

Carlyle House

Since its founding in 1749, alcohol has been an essential part of the Alexandria’s history, so  join in a new, unique event at Carlyle House Historic Park on Saturday, October 22 at 7 p.m.! Enjoy a selection of Virginia whiskeys and delicious menu of heavy hors d’oeuvres inspired by the fall season and southern cuisine, plus a special whiskey Flavored gelato.  Tickets for those 21 or more years are priced at $50 per person.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: