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This Week in Historic Alexandria (8.28.17) | News Release | City of Alexandria


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This Week in Alexandria History

On September 2, 1846, Alexandrians voted overwhelmingly to retrocede from the District of Columbia back to the Commonwealth of Virginia. Alexandria was first included in the new national capital site recommended by George Washington in 1791.  Ten years later, the 31 square miles of land on the south side of the Potomac was designated as Alexandria County. But with the construction of federal buildings restricted to the area north of the river (ceded by the State of Maryland,) construction of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal which enhanced port facilities at the competing port of Georgetown, and lack of representation in Congress, Alexandrians soon felt their community had been short-changed, and by the 1830’s petitions to Congress to release the area from federal control had begun.



Wednesday, August 30 –  Friends of Alexandria Archaeology Summer Social
Daniel O’Connell’s Irish Restaurant and Bar, 112 King Street, 2nd Floor
There has never been a more exciting time to be a part of Alexandria Archaeology! Join current FOAA (Friends of Alexandria Archaeology) members and city archaeologists for a happy hour on the second floor of Daniel O’Connell’s Irish Restaurant and Bar. Learn how you can support the preservation of the city’s archaeological heritage, and hear about the exclusive benefits offered to FOAA members. Free! 5 to 7 p.m. For more information, please call 703.746.4399.

Sunday, September 3 – Gadsby’s Tavern Museum’s Family Tours
Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, 134 North Royal Street
Treat your family to special “Family Tours” led by Junior Docents grades 4-7. Tours included a hands-on activity and the opportunity for children to connect with history through peer tour guides. Admission: $5 adults, $3 children ages 5 to 12, and 4 and under are free. No advance registration required. 2 to 5 p.m. Family tours begin June 25 and end Labor Day weekend. For more information, call 703.746.4242.

Now on Exhibit through September 17 – Seduction | Leslie Nolan
The Athenaeum, 201 Prince Street
Leslie Nolan’s abstract figurative paintings depict what is felt rather than what is seen. Ambiguity and uncertainty are powerful forces rendered eloquently with bold color and energetic brush work. Open Thursday through Sunday, 12 Noon to 4 p.m. For more information, please visit www.nvfaa.org or call 703.548.0035.

Defenses of WashingtonNow 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 – Relics to be Removed
Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, 134 North Royal Street
Discover a series of contemporary artistic installations by Baltimore artists Stewart Watson and Lauren Frances Adams tucked in among the historic spaces. Centennial of the Everydayreflects their research on the history of women, enslaved peoples, and nameless citizens whose stories are often overshadowed by other more famous figures from our region.  Using traditional materials but with modern techniques, the artist team illuminate the domestic material culture of the past. This project is part of the Time & Place initiative, which explores the intersection of contemporary art with Alexandria’s rich and multifaceted history and is a partnership of the City of Alexandria’s Office of the Arts with the Office of Historic Alexandria.  Open during regular museum hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday and Monday, 1 to 5 p.m., and part of regular museum admission: $5 adults, $3 child ages 5 to12. For more information, call 703.746.4242.

photo: Centennial of Everyday jarNow on Exhibit – Centennial of the Everyday
Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, 134 North Royal Street
Many are familiar with the historic ballroom at Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, yet the woodwork is a copy; the original is located at Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met) in New York City. Relics to be Removed explores the 1917 removal of the historic ballroom and places this decision into a national context. Learn and connect with the story through photos, text and recreated, touchable pieces.  Open during regular museum hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday and Monday, 1 to 5 p.m., and part of regular museum admission: $5 adults, $3 child ages 5 to12. For more information, call 703.746.4242.

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 AlexandriaOpen Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. 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 – Alexandrians Fight the Great War
The Lyceum, Alexandria’s History Museum, 201 South Washington Street
This new exhibition traces the experiences of local people during the first World War. The homes, hospitals, factories and shipyards of wartime Alexandria come back to life through the use of rare images, archival and modern-day video clips, quotes from participants, original objects including weapons, period music, and scale models. Open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays 1 to 5 p.m.   For more information call 703.746.4994, or visit

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



In preparation for the Jane Austen Ball at Gadsby’s Tavern Museum on September 23, on three preceding Thursdays, September 7, 14 and 21, learn 18th-century English country dancing from expert dance instructors. Classes are priced at $12 per class or $30 for the series of three, and reservations can be made online.

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