What’s New in Historic Alexandria
Each summer the City of Alexandria exchanges one student intern with our official Sister City in Caen, France for the month of July. The student resides with a host family during the period, reports to work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and attends special events and sightseeing activities with members of the Caen Sister City Committee. This year’s intern is a friendly, 20 year-old young woman, who will be working on an international tourism initiative with Visit AlexandriaVA, the city’s designated tourism agency.
Although July is just around the corner, efforts to secure room and board for this year’s intern have not yet been successful, so we are reaching out to the community to determine if there is a family in a position to host her for the month of July. If you have an extra room in your home and would like to host the intern for four weeks, the Alexandria-Caen Sister Cities Committee and Office of Historic Alexandria would be most appreciative. A $500 stipend is available to the host family to offset expenses.
The Caen Committee members will schedule some activities for the intern and are available to help the host family in any way. This could be a fantastic opportunity for a family with children studying French, or those who would like a cultural exchange experience without a long-term commitment of time.
If your family (no individuals please) would be interested or are able to help, please email email@example.com to discuss consideration of the intern’s living arrangements during her visit here. Thank you for your interest in Historic Alexandria and the Caen Sister City program
This Week in Historic Alexandria
On May 26, 1830, the U.S. Congress passed a bill authorizing a charter to the Alexandria Canal Company to build a man-made waterway linking Alexandria with Georgetown, to provide a direct connection to the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, which was a key route to expansion of the American interior. Construction began in 1833 and was finished a decade later, but within just a short time period became increasingly obsolete due to the construction of westward railroads. The canal closed permanently in 1886.
Saturday, May 27 – Attics & Alleys Tours
Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, 134 North Royal Street
Sorry, this event is SOLD OUT!
Saturday, May 27 – Getting the Most Out of Your Vacation
Alexandria Black History Museum, 902 Wythe Street
Getting the Most of Your Vacation for Less with Bernadette Champion – African Americans are the largest heritage tourism demographic in the United States. Learn how to maximize your spending power, support Black owned businesses, and look beyond traditional itineraries to include: African and African American related history, internet deals, restrictions, exceptions, price, and the fine print. With 30 years of travel planning experience, the owner of Champion Services Travel will discuss what you should consider when planning your vacation. Free! 11 a.m. For more information, please call 703.746.4356.
Now on Exhibit through June 25 – Pattern and Repetition: Reni Gower and Stephen Boocks
The Athenaeum, 201 Prince Street
Both these artists use repetitive shapes and patterns, combining both precision and randomness to create meditative and mesmerizing pieces. 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.
Now on Exhibit – Costumes of Mercy Street
The Lyceum, Alexandria’s History Museum, 201 South Washington Street
This new exhibition highlights several costumes worn by characters in the PBS series Mercy Street, set in Civil War era Alexandria. 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.
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.
On Sale Now
On Thursday, June 1, the Alexandria Sister Cities committee invites the public to attend a lecture at The Lyceum, Alexandria’s History Museum, on “The Battle for Caen, June/July 1944” with the Senior Historian to the Secretary of Defense, Lieutenant Colonel Tom Christianson, U.S. Army (retired). Learn from his expertise teaching Military History and European History at the United States Military Academy at West Point and the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, as well as his time as aide-de-camp to the Commander Land Forces Southern Europe. A reception will follow the lecture. Tickets are priced at $5 per person. 7 p.m. For more information, please contact this email.
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
- Alexandria Library Special Collections
- Alexandria Historical Society
- Christ Church
- Carlyle House Historic Park
- Freedom House Museum
- Historic Alexandria Foundation
- Lee-Fendall House
- Old Presbyterian Meeting House