What’s New in Historic Alexandria
The Office of Historic Alexandria is pleased to announce that this year’s Historic Alexandria commemorative ornament will feature the historic Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum, located at 105 S. Fairfax Street. Established as an Apothecary business by Edward Stabler in Alexandria in 1792, the Apothecary Museum today includes two commercial buildings that were used as a pharmacy and wholesale drug business from 1805 until 1933. 2016 marks ten years of ownership and operation by the City of Alexandria, Office of Historic Alexandria. The Apothecary Museum welcomes more than 15,000 visitors annually and hosts an array of public programs and specialty tours. For more information about the Apothecary Museum, visit www.AlexandriaVA.gov/Apothecary.
The 2016 Commemorative ornament is priced at $20 and is for sale at the Apothecary Museum, The Lyceum, the Alexandria Visitor Center, and online at www.shop.alexandriava.gov.
Monday, November 28 – Gary Stephans’ Art of Ballroom Dance
The Athenaeum, 201 Prince Street
Fun classes to learn to dance or improve your dancing skills: fox trot, waltz, tango, swing, salsa, merengue, rumba, cha-cha, and samba. All level of dancers are welcome, with or without a partner. Discover little techniques that most people never learn about and become a relaxed and proficient social dancer in these small, personalized dance lessons! Class fee is $15 per session, Basic or Advanced Techniques, attend both sessions for best results. To register for either or both sessions, click here. Basic Techniques class is 7 to 7:45 p.m. Advanced Techniques is 7:45 to 8:30 p.m. Free practice session from 8:30 to 9 p.m. To register, click here. For more information, please visit firstname.lastname@example.org or call 703.505.5998.
Saturday, December 3 – Holiday Homes Tour
The Campagna Center presents the annual Holiday Home Tours! Explore Alexandria’s history and take advantage of this rare opportunity to stroll through some of Old Town’s most splendid homes decked out for the holidays by acclaimed interior designers and local florists. Proceeds benefit the programs of The Campagna Center that serve over 2,000 children and families daily in Alexandria. Tickets are priced at $35 per person. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information and a list of homes on the tour, please visit http://www.campagnacenter.org/scottishwalkweekend/hometours.
Saturday, December 3 – Scottish Walk Parade
For the 46th consecutive year, we proudly present The Campagna Center’s Scottish Christmas Walk Parade. Enjoy marching units filled with the magnificent tartans of Scottish Clans, the stirring sound of Scottish bagpipes and drums, Scottish dancers, reenactment groups, Scottie dogs, dignitaries, classic cars, Santa Claus, and much more. The parade begins at St. Asaph and Wolfe Streets and concludes at Market Square with a massed band concert. The parade will take place rain or shine. Free! 11 a.m. For more information, please visit http://www.campagnacenter.org/scottishwalkweekend/parade.
Saturday, December 3 – Scottish Walk Parade Open House
Carlyle House Historic Park, 121 North Fairfax Street
Step back in time to see Carlyle House decorated for the holidays in the style of the 18th century. John Carlyle, one of Alexandria’s town founders, was a British merchant of Scottish descent. Come into the museum to warm up after the Scottish Walk Parade and learn more about 18th century Alexandria! Free, suggested donation $1. 12 noon to 4 p.m. For more information, please visit www.carlylehouse.org or call 703.549.2997
Saturday, December 3 – Archaeology Ornament Decorating Workshop
Alexandria Archaeology Museum, 105 North Union Street, Suite 327
Decorate take-home paper ornaments using shapes, colors, and patterns from the City’s finest 18th and 19th-century excavated artifacts. It’s fun, it’s free, and it’s for the entire family. No registration required. Free! 1 to 4 p.m. For more information, please visit www.AlexandriaArchaeology.org or call 703.746.4399.
Saturday, December 3 – Dance in the Gallery: Royal Scottish Country Dance Society
The Athenaeum, 201 Prince Street
Scottish Country Dancing is the social dancing of Scotland, a tradition that dates back to the 1700s and is globally promoted today by the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society (RSCDS), which is headquartered in Edinburgh. The dancers will show the audience how it’s done and then invite spectators to give it a try. No partner needed. Free! 2 p.m. For more information, please visit www.nvfaa.org or call 703.548.0035.
Saturday, December 3 – Torpedo Factory Holiday Festival
Torpedo Factory Arts Center, 105 North Union Street
Visitors are invited to stop in the Torpedo Factory Art Centerfor its annual Holiday Festival Shop for handmade, one-of-a-kind unique and artful gifts while meeting artists and enjoying sweet treats in their studios. Kids can scout for art with a building-wide scavenger hunt before meeting with Santa. Special performances throughout the evening include appearances by the Alexandria Choral Society and Braddock Brass. Santa Claus will appear at the Alexandria City Marina before the parade at 3 p.m. He will arrive on Alexandria’s fire boat, The Vigilant, and will walk to the Torpedo Factory Art Center where he will be meeting with children until 6 p.m. Free! 2 to 6 p.m. For more information, please visit www.torpedofactory.org.
Saturday, December 3 – Holiday Boat Parade of Lights
At sundown on the day of Alexandria’s Scottish Christmas Walk Parade, experience one of the region’s most beloved holiday traditions with the 17th Annual Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights. Alexandria’s harbor shines as dozens of illuminated boats cruise the Potomac River at the historic waterfront, led by Alexandria’s fireboat, The Vigilant, and Washington, D.C.’s fireboat, John Glenn. Boats will be decked to impress a panel of judges who will award prizes in a dozen categories, including Best in Show, Thinking Outside the Christmas Box, and Hardiest Souls. Free! 5:30 p.m.
Now on Exhibit – Color Disorder
The Athenaeum, 201 Prince Street
Color Disorder is a joint exhibition of artists Katie Baines and Amy Chan. It will be a collaborative project intended to explore the intersections between their studio practices through a series of around 10–12 new paintings. Both artists use diverse painting materials such as acrylic, gouache, airbrush and screen print to build energized abstract paintings. Baines and Chan share an interest in color palettes that evoke meaning and the use of meticulous brushstrokes to convey control in an otherwise uncertain process. 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
To learn more about the surgical procedures and medical equipment used in the PBS series, Mercy Street, come to Fort Ward Museum and see a variety of medical tools, instruments, equipment and images from the Museum’s Civil War collection. A number of surgical instruments displayed in this exhibit relate to some of the procedures already depicted in Mercy Street, such as: a trephine used to drill into the skull, a surgeon’s amputation kit, a tourniquet, a tenaculum used to tie off arteries, suture needles, a forceps and scalpels. Several examples of medicine tins are included which held contents like chloroform for anesthesia, cholera mix for digestive illnesses, and quinine to relieve fevers and other ailments. Examples of small pocket surgical kits and a surgeon’s field case are included, as well as arm and leg splints and a crutch. 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 visit 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
On November 29, 1817, President James Monroe visited Alexandria and was well received at the City Hotel, now Gadsby’s Tavern. Although Monroe was in office less than one year, he won a landslide victory and presided over a time period named the “Era of Good Feelings”, due largely for his efforts to unify the country after the War of 1812. In 1817, he took two long tours to build national trust, and his visits to numerous American towns and cities sought to extend good will and establish a common bond with the local population.
On Sale Now
On Saturday, December 10, travel through centuries of local history as you learn more about Alexandria during the holiday season at Carlyle House, Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, Old Presbyterian Meeting House and the Lee-Fendall House. Enjoy each site by candlelight, smell seasonal greenery, sip on drinks and taste period inspired food. Seasonal libations will be available for purchase. Tickets are priced at Adults $25; Seniors (65 years and older) and Active Military $20; Children (ages 6-17) $5 and are now available.
The Virginia World War I and World War II Commemoration Commission is hosting a special recognition ceremony in Richmond for World War II Veterans, the Dawn of Infamy: America Goes to War, on Thursday, December 8 from 9:30 a.m. to noon. For those Veterans and family members who would like to participate in the program locally, the Alexandria American Legion Post No. 24 will be hosting a special live viewing of this Richmond-based event in the American Legion Ballroom, 400 Cameron Street. Doors will open at 9 a.m. with coffee, donuts, and time to socialize. All are welcome to attend. The Alexandria-satellite program will begin at 9:30 a.m. and will be projected on a screen. RSVPs are encouraged to email@example.com. Rides can be arranged for Veterans.
The program in Richmond is free and open to the public, though pre-registration is encouraged. To do so, visit 2016 Tribute or call Lily Jones at 804.786.3591, ext. 252. World War II veterans will receive special recognition and commemorative items if they register in advance.
About the Event
The date marks the 75th anniversary of the United States’ entry into World War II on December 8, 1941, following the previous day’s attack on Pearl Harbor—an event that launched the action into a worldwide conflict that had been raging for two year. In the years that followed more than 400,000 Americans, over 11,000 of whom were Virginias, gave their lives, while millions of others put their lives at risk.
Dawn of Infamy will feature an Honor Parade of World War II veterans and a special recognition ceremony, remarks by dignitaries, and a keynote address from Pulitzer-Prize winner and military historian Rick Atkinson, author of the New York Times best-selling Liberation Trilogy, a narrative history of American’s role in the liberation of Europe during World War II. The event will be livestreamed, with simultaneous ceremonies happening across Virginia, including in Alexandria.
Calling the event a “celebration of victory and recognition of the victors,” University of Richmond Chancellor E. Bruce Heilman, who joined the U.S. Marines in 1944 and fought at Okinawa, will lead the Honor Parade. “As a veteran of World War II, my life during and since that experience has been blessed with the satisfaction of having served my country when it made a difference. Now, 75 years after its beginning, I take pride in this special tribute taking place at the University of Richmond where I have, for 46 years, served as President and Chancellor.”
About the Virginia WWI and WWII Commemoration
Commission The Virginia World War I and World War II Commemoration Commission was created by the Virginia General Assembly during its 2016 Session by expanding the existing World War II 75th Anniversary Commission to include programs and observances marking the 100th anniversary of World War I. Over the next four years, the Commission will carry out programs to recognize the 75th anniversary of World War II and the 100th anniversary of World War I, which begins in April 2017. The Office of Historic Alexandria will be coordinating events throughout the City of Alexandria during the commemoration and more information can be found at www.alexandriava.gov/historic. For more information about the Commission and its projects, visit Virginia WW I and Virginia WW II.
City Museums and Historic Sites
- Office of Historic Alexandria
- Alexandria Archaeology Museum
- Alexandria Black History Museum
- Archives and Records Center
- Fort Ward Museum and Historic Site
- Friendship Firehouse
- Gadsby’s Tavern Museum
- The Lyceum, Alexandria’s History Museum
- Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum
Other Historic Sites and Resources