This Week in Historic Alexandria
City Museums and
Historic Sites
Other Historic Sites and Resources
This Week in
Alexandria History
Alexandria Brick Company wagon
On April 22, 1890, the Alexandria Brick Company opened a new brick kiln off South Washington Street, in the area where the street ended at Hunting Creek, before the construction of the George Washington Memorial Parkway extended the roadway southward in the early 1930's. Excavation for clay to make bricks took place on land that is now the Hunting Point apartment complex, and on property adjacent to the Freedmen's Cemetery. Within two years, on March 29, 1892, an article in the Washington Post commented that the excavations within the brickyard had undermined the cemetery grounds to the point that coffins were sticking out of a hillside “like cannon from the embrasures of some great fort.” At the time, a brickworks employee commented to the news reporter that, “The bricks from that clay will be good to build haunted houses with.”
On Sale Now
Attics and Alleys Tour
They're back! In honor of National Preservation Month, the popular, three hour, Attics and Alleys Tours, featuring the rarely seen spaces of four historic sites - the Lee-Fendall House, Gadsby's Tavern Museum, the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum, and Carlyle House Historic Park, will be repeated each Saturday morning during the month of May. Tickets are priced at $35 per person, and include free passes to return to the Museums for regular tours. Advance reservations are required. All tours begin at 9 a.m. and end at 12 noon.

Battle of the White House
Join research historian John Patrick O'Neill at The Lyceum on Wednesday, April 30, for a lecture on the Battle of the White House during the War of 1812. Tickets are priced at $5, free for members of the Alexandria Historical Society. Space is limited, and advance registration is recommended. For more information, please visit or call 703.746.4994.

» Lyceum RoofNext time you're walking down South Washington Street, take a look at the new red cedar shingle roof recently installed on The Lyceum, Alexandria's History Museum, to restore the building to its 19th century appearance. Since the 1970's, when the building was converted from an office building into the nation's first Bicentennial Center, The Lyceum had been roofed in undistinguished asphalt shingles. However, the original construction contract between builders David Price and Wm. H. McKnight, and Alexandria Lyceum representatives Benjamin Hallowell and Thomas W. Smith, dated June 17, 1839, specified the following:

 "Roof to be 9 feet rise, well framed according to drawing, the king post to be fastened to the girder with iron straps at the bottom, and covered with good sheathing & best Susquehannah (sic) shingles."

Apparently, there was also a 10' x 10' observatory originally planned for the rooftop, but the Office of Historic Alexandria has never identified an image of the building with this feature, nor is there evidence of this amenity on the structural framing. Benjamin Hallowell was a frugal Quaker schoolteacher, and since he was overseeing construction on the part of those donating to the project to enhance public learning in 19th-century Alexandria, it was most probably a costly feature that was ultimately deleted from the plans.

EVENTS * click the picture to see a larger photo
» Thursday, April 24 - Poem in Your Pocket Day
The Athenaeum, 201 Prince Street
The culminating event in Alexandria's National Poetry Month activities, Poem in Your Pocket Day will feature Poet Laureate Tori Lane, and past Poet Laureates Amy Young and Mary McElveen. The program is a partnership between the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Association and the City of Alexandria Office of the Arts. Light refreshments will be served. Free! 6:30 to 8 p.m. For more information, please visit or call 703.548.0035.
Poetry Month
» Thursday, April 24 - War Of 1812 Film Gala and Commemorative Launch
Old Town Theatre, 815½ King Street
Enjoy a special screening of Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World at the recently restored Old Town Theatre, complete with cocktail reception, exhibition of clothing worn on the film set, and a pre-screening film discussion. Special guests for the evening include Kyle Dalton with the Maritime Museum of San Diego, who worked on the HMS Surprise, a modern replica of an 18th-century Royal Navy frigate that was used in the making of the film. Brendan O'Toole, a 2007 TC William High School graduate and USMC Sgt. who served in Afghanistan, will also be speaking. He recently ran 3,600 miles across the country raising funds for the Wounded Warrior Project.

Tickets are priced at $45 per person, or $75 for sponsor-level tickets, $30 of which will be donated to the American Wounded Warrior Project and British Help for Heroes foundations in honor of the commemoration. Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) serves veterans and service members injured on or after September 11, 2001 and their families. With advancements in battlefield medicine and body army, an unprecedented percentage of service members are surviving severe wounds or injuries. WWP offers a variety of services to help warriors with every type of injury - physical and invisible - and their families adjust to their new normal and achieve new triumphs. Help for Heroes is a similar organization in the UK that supports servicemen and women and veterans in the Royal Navy, British Army, or Royal Air Force. The catered reception, with cash bar, begins at 6:30 p.m. and the movie starts at 8:00 p.m.

While war was declared in 1812, it did not reach Alexandria's shores until 1814. The City of Alexandria and community partners are commemorating Alexandria in the War of 1812 through lectures, concerts, a film series, and specialty tours, culminating in a free Signature Event in Waterfront Park on Sunday, August 31, 2014 from noon - 5 p.m. For more information and a complete listing of War of 1812 Bicentennial events, visit  or call 703.746.4242.
» Saturday, April 26 - Friends of Carlyle House Garden Day Herb & Craft Sale
Carlyle House Historic Park, 121 North Fairfax Street
Come celebrate Spring with the Friends of Carlyle House's Annual Garden Day Herb & Craft Sale from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm on Saturday, April 26. An exciting mix of herbs and vegetable plants from Mount Vernon and Layng & Company will be available for purchase. Bring your gardening questions for our Master Gardeners, listen to performances by area musicians throughout the day, and shop for items made by local artisans and crafters. This event is free, however admission for the House tour is $5 for adults; $3 for children 5-12 years old; FREE for children 4 & under or free with your Alexandria Garden Day ticket. This event will take place rain or shine. Carlyle House Historic Park is located at 121 N. Fairfax Street, Alexandria.
   WHEN:      Saturday, April 26 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
   WHERE:    Carlyle House Historic Park, 121 N. Fairfax Street, Old Town Alexandria.

For further information please visit or call 703.549.2997.
Garden Day
» Saturday, April 26 - Firefighting History Walking Tours
Friendship Firehouse Museum, 105 South Alfred Street
Explore Alexandria's firefighting history on the “Blazing a Trail: Alexandria's Firefighting History” tour. Participants learn about volunteer firefighting in early Alexandria, three major fires, and the five volunteer fire companies. The tour begins at the historic Friendship Firehouse, goes east on Prince Street, and returns to Friendship via King Street. For ages 10 and older. $6 for adults, $4 ages 10-17. Reservations are required, as space is limited. Telephone 703.746.4994, or see
» Saturday, April 26 - Salon Logos: A Poetry Salon with Shelly Bell
The Athenaeum, 201 Prince Street  
An afternoon exhibition space where artists map their creative writing with images then present their journey to an engaged, intimate group of curious art enthusiasts. Please come to hear, see and share! Free! 2 p.m. For more information, please visit or call 703.548.0035.
Salon Logos: A Poetry Salon with Shelly Bell
» Sunday, April 27 - Civil War Sunday
Alexandria Archaeology Museum, 105 North Union Street, #327
Explore the Civil War in Alexandria with Civil War Sundays. See an original May 26, 1861, edition of The New-York Tribune detailing Colonel Elmer Ellsworth's death in Alexandria, a Peeps diorama illustrating Ellsworth's death, a TimeTravelers Passport exhibit featuring the Civil War drummer boy, a diorama of a heating system constructed in Alexandria to warm Civil War hospital tents during the winter of 1861, a cocked and loaded Wickham musket discarded in a privy during the 1860s, and an exhibit on a Lee Street archaeological site during the Civil War. Free! 1 to 5 p.m. For more information, please visit or call 703.746.4399.
» Sunday, April 27 - Lavender: Endless Possibilities
The Athenaeum, 201 Prince Street
Mellenie of Truly-Life will demonstrate the many ways in which lavender can be used; each participant will receive a tiny gift. Space is limited, so please email to reserve a spot. Free. 1 p.m. For more information, please visit or call 703.548.0035.
» Sunday, April 27 - Presidential Salon with James Madison
Gadsby's Tavern Museum, 134 North Royal Street
As the War of 1812 conflict surges towards Alexandria, join President Madison as he discusses and engages guests about political and personal issues of 1814. Tickets are priced at $15 per person, $10 high school/college students. 3 to 4:30 p.m., doors open for seating at 2:30pm students. For more information, please visit www.gadsbys or call 703.746.4242.
» Monday, April 28 - The Art of Ballroom Dance
The Athenaeum, 201 Prince Street
Learn the fox trot, waltz, tango, swing, salsa, meringue, rumba, cha-cha, and samba. Come with or without a partner. Beginning and advanced dancers are welcome. Tickets are priced at $15 per person. Beginner's Class 7 to 7:45 p.m.; Advanced Class 7:45 to 8:30 p.m.; Practice at 9 p.m. For more information, please visit or call 703.548.0035.
The Art of Ballroom Dance
» Open Through May 4 - LOULOUDI Flower/ to FlowerExhibition
The Athenaeum, 201 Prince Street
The new LOULOUDI Flower/ to Flower exhibit explores the natural process of flowering and its entire metaphorical context through object making and installation work by members of the Washington Sculptors Group. The work aims to spark a dialogue about the artist's material, the environment, and cultural connotations affiliated with the symbolic Free! 4 p.m. For more information, please visit or call 703.548.0035.
» Open Through June 2014 - Beyond the Battlefield Exhibition
Lee-Fendall House Museum & Garden, 614 Oronoco Street
As part of Alexandria's commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of the American Civil War, Lee-Fendall House seeks to promote the story of its role during the Civil War with a new exhibit on Civil War medical care. From 1862 to1865, the house served as a Union Hospital under the direction of Chief Surgeon Edwin Bentley during the occupation of Alexandria. The exhibit will be set up as a hospital room with medicines on display. An intricate diorama of miniature figures will depict how wounded soldiers were transported from the battlefield to house hospitals such as Lee-Fendall House. $3, admission to the exhibit included with ticket price (free during November.) The museum is open Wednesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, please visit or call 703.548.1789.
» Open Through August 2014 - Sit Down and Take a Stand: Samuel W. Tucker and the 1939 Alexandria Library Sit-In Exhibition
Alexandria Black History Museum, 902 Wythe Street
On August 21, 1939, five African American men walked into the whites-only Alexandria Library and requested library cards. When refused because they were black, the young men quietly took books off the shelves and sat down to read. Library authorities quickly had them arrested, making this act of civil disobedience one of the earliest of its kind in the modern civil rights movement. This new exhibition highlights the sit-in and its behind-the scenes mastermind, Samuel Wilbert Tucker, a 27 year-old attorney and a native of Alexandria. The exhibition also includes the previously unheralded role of Robert Strange, the little known sixth participant of the sit-in. Only 15 years old, Strange acted as a runner between the Alexandria Library and Tucker's office, keeping the young lawyer abreast of sit-in developments. Free! Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, please call 703.746.4356.