This Week in Historic Alexandria (4.27.17) | News Release | City of Alexandria

screen-shot-2016-12-12-at-3-40-15-pmWhat’s New in Historic Alexandria

The Alexandria Historical Society and Office of Historic Alexandria are pleased to announce the 2017 Annual Alexandria History Awards Ceremony, to be held Wednesday, April 26 at 7:30 p.m. at The Lyceum, Alexandria’s History Museum located at 201 South Washington Street.  Thisyear’s two honorees will be awarded the T. Michael Miller Award for their lifetime achievement and dedication to the heritage of Alexandria:

photo: Fran BrombergFrancine Bromberg dedicated twenty‐six years of her career to Alexandria Archaeology, first serving as Preservation Archaeologist, then Acting City Archaeologist and finally City Archaeologist. She has made exceptional contributions to the preservation of Alexandria’s rich archaeological and historic record and to advancing scholarship on the City’s history, particularly on behalf of African Americans. Under her tutelage, much was learned about those buried in the Contrabands and Freedmen’s Cemetery, the former slaves who formed a community at Ford Ward and both the free and enslaved people who lived and worked
at Shuter’s Hill, an urban plantation that once existed to the rear of the George Washington Masonic National Memorial. Ms. Bromberg also explored the history of Alexandria Quakers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

But Ms. Bromberg’s key accomplishment—one for which she will perhaps be remembered best—is her careful oversight of the excavation and stabilization of the hull of a fifty‐foot eighteenth‐century ship discovered at the site of the Indigo Hotel in November 2015. The large, heavy ship was scuttled along the shore of the Potomac in the late eighteenth century and was discovered along with remains of the John Carlyle’s 1755 public warehouse, wharves and three privies, and the news of the discoveries and Alexandria’s maritime history was disseminated to over one hundred news outlets as far away as England, Italy and Turkey.

Other accomplishments include locating and excavating the Moore‐McLean Sugar Refinery, helping to establish the archaeological Geographic Information Systems (GIS) program at Alexandria Archaeology and collaborating with the Alexandria Black History Museum on projects such as the Contraband and Freedmen’s Cemetery (which produced a comprehensive nine‐hundred‐and‐fifty‐page report) and highway marker for L’Ouverture Hospital and Barracks.

Ms. Bromberg is also a prolific author with an extensive publication record. Two of her most important are We Dig Alexandria and The Quaker Burying Ground in Alexandria, Virginia.

Before coming to the Office of Historic Alexandria, Ms. Bromberg worked as an assistant archaeologist at a Roman site in Dorset, England in 1971; as an archaeological supervisor at the Tell Jemmeh Excavations undertaken by the Smithsonian Institution in Re’im, Israel; for the National Park Service in Washington, DC, surveying approximately eighty sites of national significance for the Historic Sites Survey Project; and at a cultural resources management firm—Parsons‐Engineering Science—on historic projects that include the development of Reagan National Airport and Camden Yards. In all, Ms. Bromberg accumulated forty‐seven years of experience doing archaeology in the mid‐Atlantic region.

Francine Bromberg attended the University of Pennsylvania in its renowned Anthropology/Archaeology program, graduating Magna Cum Laude from the Bachelor’s honors program. She then earned her Master’s degree in Anthropology/Archaeology from The Catholic University of America. Her thesis, “Site Distribution in the Coastal Plain and Fall Zone of the Potomac Valley from ca. 6,500 BC to AD 1,400” is frequently cited in scholarly literature on late Woodland and early historic Native American occupations in Virginia, including Dr. Stephen Potter’s seminal book, Commoners, Tribute, and Chiefs: The Development of Algonquian Culture in the Potomac Valley (1993).

photo: Bernard Holien Kim Bernard Holien is a military historian and former international affairs officer. He was born to American parents in Stuttgart, Germany, and his ambition for Foreign Service developed during his childhood when his father served as a medical officer with the U.S. Army in Germany. The family returned to the United States and the elder Holien then served on President Dwight Eisenhower’s White House medical staff. The younger Holien went to work at the US State Department in 1971; it took six months for him to acquire a security clearance because of his Stuttgart birthplace. He then entered a top‐secret program in which he was responsible for twenty‐nine foreign posts and next went to work at the General Accounting Office assigned to foreign and veteran cases. In 1975 Mr. Holien began working for the National Archives at a large government warehouse declassifying mid‐twentieth‐century records, and went to work for the Army Center of Military History as a reference historian in 1979. Then in 1995 the position of the Fort Myer Military Community historian was created. He even found time to teach at John Carroll High School in the District of Columbia. Mr. Holien retired in 2013.

Ultimately, his passion for history eclipsed the excitement of a Foreign Service career. Mr. Holien is the author of Battle at Ball’s Bluff (1995) and served as editor for The Sharpshooter (1974‐1979) and Clarion’s Call (1980‐1983). Mr. Holien is a 1966 graduate of Hammond High School, earned a Bachelor’s degree from Bethel University and holds a Master’s degree in American history from George Mason University. He attended Army Management Staff College at Fort Belvoir, Virginia and is a member of the American History Association, Company of Military Historians, District of Columbia Civil War Round Table, American Military Institute, Northern Virginia Association of Historians, Alexandria Civil War Round Table, Sons of Norway, Bethel College Alumni Association, Heritage of Honor and Friends of Fort Ward.

In addition, the High School History Awards will be presented to:

Isabelle Davidson, Episcopal High School
Sarah Innis, Bishop Ireton High School
Amanda C. Eisenhour, T.C. Williams High School
Benjamin Johnson, St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes Upper School

Jessie MacLeod, Associate Curator at George Washington’s Mount Vernon, will be the Keynote Speaker and Mayor Allison Silberberg will offer concluding remarks.

This Week in Historic Alexandria

Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 3.02.20 PMOn April 27, 1861, just twelve days after the fall of Fort Sumter and four days after Virginia’s decision to schedule a public vote on secession, President Abraham Lincoln ordered that a Naval blockade on Southern ports be extended along the coastlines of North Carolina and Virginia to prevent the Confederacy from importing weapons and other war materials from foreign governments and preventing the export of cotton and saleable goods that would provide financial resources to enrich the South’s war-making machine.  As seen in this 1861 political cartoon, the snakelike blockade reached right up the Potomac, past Alexandria’s waterfront, with the tail of the snake curling tight at Washington, D.C.



photo: Char McCargo BahSaturday, April 29 – Lecture: Dismissing the Myth about the Ramsey Homes
Alexandria Black History Museum, 902 Wythe Street
The Ramsey Homes were constructed in 1941 for African- American Federal government and enlisted military defense workers as part of the war effort. These four stucco buildings are located in the historic Parker-Gray District of Alexandria. In March 2016, the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority (ARHA) was granted permission by the City Council to redevelop the Ramsey Homes as part of the Braddock East Master Plan (“BEMP”). Genealogist and historian Char McCargo Bah explores the historical issues surrounding this controversial project. It is part of a larger national debate about how to balance preservation with progress and concerns that gentrification will price residents out of their traditional neighborhoods.

Char McCargo Bah is the CEO/Owner of Finding Things for U, LLC. She has been a genealogist since 1981. Sought after for her expertise, McCargo Bah has been interviewed for numerous television shows and documentaries, including those produced for CBS, FOX 5, Comcast, and PBS. She has also received numerous awards for her work and she was named a Living Legend in Alexandria, Virginia in 2014. McCargo Bah served as the official genealogist for the Office of Historic Alexandria’s work in identifying descendants of those buried at the city’s Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery. She is co-author of African Americans of Alexandria, VA: Beacons of Light in the Twentieth Century. Free, but reservations by phone are suggested due to space limitations. 11 a.m. For more information, please call 703.746.4356.

Saturday, April 29 – Civil War Ball 
Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, 134 North Royal Street
Enjoy an evening from the 1860s in the historic Gadsby’s Tavern ballroom at the Civil War Ball. The evening will include live music, dance instruction, and period desserts. Period attire, either civilian or military, is encouraged. Tickets are priced at $45 per person and are available online. 8 to 11 p.m. Reservations are required. For more information, please visit http://www.gadsbystavernmuseum.us or call 703.746.4242.

Sunday, April 30 – Book Talk:Alexandria, Virginia with Fred Knops
The Athenaeum, 201 Prince Street
Alexandria, Virginia: Walk the Path of America’s Founding Fathers is a new tour book written by Alexandria resident Fred Knops focusing on Old Town Alexandria’s colonial heritage. Book sales at this event will benefit ACT, the Alexandria Library Special Collection at the Barrett Branch, the Christ Church Foundation, and Boy Scouts Troop 1515.Free! 4 p.m. RSVP at admin@nvfaa.org. For more information, please visit www.nvfaa.org or call 703.548.0035.

photo: polinator beeNow on Exhibit through May 14- Natural Attraction: Virginia Plants and Pollinators
The Athenaeum, 201 Prince Street 
To celebrate Historic Garden Week in Virginia, the Gallery will be filled with native plants and their pollinators. Members of the Botanic Art Society of the National Capital Region (BASNCR), as selected by juror Susan Frei Nathan, will depict horticulture native to this region. Deana Marion provides an intimate, almost microscopic look at Virginia bees. 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 – Shield of Earth:  Defending the Heart of the Union 
Fort Ward Museum, 4301 West Braddock Road
This new exhibition that features objects, photographs and documents from the Fort Ward Museum collection related to the Defenses of Washington.  The exhibition covers both the formidable task of building the defense system, which made the Federal capital one of the most protected cities in the world, and some of the men who were assigned to duty in the Washington area.   Highlights of the exhibition include military passes issued by Provost Marshal’s Office, construction tools, and original photographs of some of Washington’s defenders, including a profile of Francis E. Brainerd, a soldier in the 1st Wisconsin Heavy Artillery who was stationed at Fort O’Rourke, not far from the present-day site of the Huntington Metro Station.  Items related to how the forts protected Washington’s vital transportation resources are also featured, such as a ship’s lantern, rail section from the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, and colored lithograph of Soldier’s Rest in Alexandria.  Several original drawings of forts by soldiers stationed at those sites are on view, and a construction report dated February 1865 details work projects such as completion of new officers’ quarters at Fort Ward.  Other unique items featured are a sketch showing where President Lincoln came under fire during the Battle of Fort Stevens, a field desk belonging to an officer in the 107th New York Infantry, and an 1862 map of the Defenses of Washington published by the engineer E.G. Arnold.   The exhibition will continue through 2017. 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.

photo: 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 visit www.alexandriahistory.org.

Now on Exhibit – Before the Spirits are Swept Away: African American Historic Site Paintings 
Alexandria Black History Museum, 902 Wythe Street 
This exhibition, featuring 20 of Sherry Sanabria’s African American historic site paintings, is made possible by the Sanabria family, who generously donated 23 of her paintings to the Alexandria Black History Museum. Sherry, who had a studio at the Torpedo Factory Arts Center, passed away in 2014.  Her family has made it their mission to find homes for her paintings where they will be appreciated and preserved. This incredible donation permits museum staff to use the paintings to explore slavery, interpretation, and preservation of African American sites in Virginia. These paintings are part of Sanabria’s “Sites of Conscience” series, which has as its focus African American heritage, prisons, concentration camps, and mental hospitals. The Sites of Conscience series takes viewers to places of horror, places of pain and suffering, places we want to forget, but never should.

Robert Sanabria, Sherry’s husband, feels this series “… demonstrates the widespread practice of bondage in the American South and the determination of the enslaved to survive and maintain their connection with their creator. It is especially fortuitous to have these works together where they will be valued and available for the appreciation of generations to come….”

Tuesday to Saturday: 10 am to 4 p.m., Sunday and Monday: Closed.  Free, but donations are appreciated. For more information, please call 703.746.4356.

photo: Lee-Fendall HouseNow 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.


On Sale Now

Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 3.03.30 PM.pngOn Saturdays during the month of May, find out what mysteries lie behind the closed doors of four of Alexandria’s historic sites! Attics and Alleys is a three-hour walking tour featuring the rarely seen spaces of four sites—the Lee-Fendall House, Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum, and Carlyle House Historic Park—revealing the remnants of stories otherwise hidden. This behind-the-scenes access is in honor of National Preservation Month.

Tours begin at 9 a.m. and ends around noon. Choose from starting at the Lee-Fendall House (614 Oronoco Street) or Gadsby’s Tavern Museum (134 N. Royal Street). Tour includes stairs, access to confined spaces, and walking over many city blocks, including through alleys. Walking shoes required; tour will be held rain or shine. Photography welcome. Tickets are priced at $35 per person and include free passes to return to the Museums for regular tours. Tickets are limited and advance reservations are required. Note: the May 20 tours are now SOLD OUT!

City Museums and Historic Sites

Other Historic Sites and Resources

Old Town Post Note: The following events were also on the newsletter but have already past so are including them at the end of the post ->
Tuesday,  April 25 – In Concert: USAF Band Chamber Players Series 
The Lyceum, Alexandria’s History Museum, 201 South Washington Street 
Anevening of music for for Strings and Piano featuring members of the Air Force Strings. Free, no reserved seats; first-come, first seated! 7:30 to 9 p.m. For more information, please visit usafband.af.mil or call 703.746.4994.

Thursday, April 27 – Civil War Ball Dance Classes 
Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, 134 North Royal Street
In preparation for the Civil War Ball on April 29, learn the waltz, polka, Virginia Reel and more from an expert dance master. Those not familiar with this style of dancing should complete at least one full class to become accustomed to the figures and language for the ball. Tickets are priced at $12 per class, and can be purchased online. Reservations are recommended. 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. For more information, please visit http://www.gadsbystavernmuseum.us or call 703.746.4242.

photo: Wendi KaplanThursday, April 27 – Poem in a Pocket Day with Wendi Kaplan 
The Athenaeum, 201 Prince Street
In celebration of National Poetry Month and Poem In Your Pocket Day, Wendi R. Kaplan, Alexandria’s Poet Laureate, invites you to a community gathering called GENERATING HOPE! Please bring poetry and stories that spark your creative spirit and inspire hope! All are welcome. Free! 7:30 p.m. RSVP at admin@nvfaa.org. For more information, please visit www.nvfaa.org or call 703.548.0035.

Saturday, April 22 – “Beyond the Battlefield” Walking Tour
Meet outside The Lyceum, 201 South Washington Street 
Sponsored by Lee-Fendall House Museum and Garden, this guided walking tour of Civil War sites in historic Old Town. 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 featured in the PBS drama, “Mercy Street.” The tour will last approximately 2.5 hours and the tour route is approximately 1.75 miles.  Tickets are $15 in advance through Eventbrite, or $20 on the day of the program. Tour space is limited, so the purchase of tickets in advance is highly recommended. 10 a.m. Participants are encouraged to wear comfortable shoes and bring bottled water. FREE for Lee-Fendall House Members! For more information, please visit www.leefendallhouse.org or call 703.548.1789.

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