This Week in Historic Alexandria
This Month in
Alexandria History
Gen. Slough Headquarters
In July 1865, with the American Civil War officially over, Union troops began withdrawing from Alexandria, ending their four-year occupation of the city. On July 7 the War department abolished the position of military governor, as Gov. John Slough requested to be relieved so that he could leave Virginia to assume command of a territorial governorship in Colorado. With his departure, the Military District of Alexandria was dismantled, and city management returned to civilian control. For weeks afterward, former military supplies, equipment, horses and livestock were sold or auctioned to locals for pennies on the dollar. Former residents who had fled the thriving city at the start of the war, returned to find their homes and property destroyed or in tatters. But despite harsh obstacles and a new social order, the citizens of Alexandria were not defeated. What emerged was an unprecedented effort between blacks and whites to work cooperatively in the reconstruction of a new, greater Alexandria, providing new opportunities for all citizens.
Free Admission to Active Military Families!
Blue Star Museum
Now through Labor Day, September 1, 2014, Gadsby's Tavern Museum, the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum and Lee-Fendall House and Gardens are proud to be designated as Blue Star Museums, commemorating the service of active military families! All active duty military service members, and their immediate family, receive FREE admission to these and other museums throughout the country from now through Labor Day, September 1, 2014. Please note that you must present an active military ID in order to receive free admission. Free admission is limited to nuclear family members only (to include spouses and children).
Witness to War and Reunion
Battle of Fort Stevens 150th Weekend at Fort Ward
Fort Ward Museum & Historic Site will host the Battle of Fort Stevens Reenactment Weekend on July 12-13 in recognition of the 150th anniversary of the only battle that was fought in the Civil War Defenses of Washington. Saturday's activities are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with a narrated reenactment of the historic 1864 battle at 2 p.m. Sunday's schedule runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and features a concert by the Federal City Brass Band at 2 p.m. Suggested donation to the event each day is $2/adults and $5/families. The event is weather dependent.

The event will feature Union and Confederate camps, military and civilian interpreters, and a variety of drills and educational demonstrations. Visitors can also meet President and Mrs. Abraham Lincoln, and see the president come under fire from Confederate sharpshooters as he did during the actual battle. Infantry and artillery reenactors will interpret weapons, equipment and tactics of the period as well as army life scenarios. Civilians will portray roles that supported the war effort, from camp laundresses to U.S. government clerks who were mobilized to help defend Fort Stevens from General Jubal Earl's Confederate assault.

The Battle of Fort Stevens, also known as “Jubal Early's Raid on Washington,” occurred on July 11-12, 1864. In an effort to alleviate Union pressure being placed on Robert E. Lee's army near Petersburg, Early's forces advanced towards the Federal capital of Washington, D.C. after engaging Northern troops at the Battle of Monocacy near Frederick, Maryland. The two-day heavy skirmish tested the ability of the northern line of Washington's defense system to withstand a Confederate attack. During the battle, President Abraham Lincoln came under enemy fire while witnessing the action from the parapet of Fort Stevens. The Battle of Fort Stevens was the only battle fought in the Defenses of Washington, and marked the only time that an American president came under direct enemy fire while in office.

Fort Ward is the best preserved of the extensive system of Union forts that comprised the Civil War Defenses of Washington. The battle reenactment is staged around the fort's authentically restored Northwest bastion, a highlight of the historic site which was reconstructed for the Civil War Centennial. The Museum features exhibits, programs and special events throughout the year.

 

 

 

 

NOTE: This is a special one month edition of This Week in Historic Alexandria.
Please review starting with the day of the week, then the date.

WHAT'S NEW IN HISTORIC ALEXANDRIA
» ExcavationArchaeologists from OHA's Alexandria Archaeology division have recently completed the excavation of a deep pit feature, located in the basement of a historic building in Old Town. The assemblage of artifacts recovered from the feature dates from its filling in the early 19th century, between the years 1810 to 1820. Historical records indicate that a tavern stood on the property just after the city's founding in 1749, until the early 1800s. In 1760, owner William Ramsay, one of Alexandria's founders and most renowned citizens, described his rental property as follows::

“ . . there are three fireplaces below stairs, a very good bar, and six rooms above; a kitchen adjoining, with two good rooms below and above, a dining room 24 feet by 18, a room of the same dimensions above it, in which is a very good London Billiard table.”

It is believed that the creation and filling of the basement pit may have corresponded with changes in ownership and use of the site for a tavern and bathhouse in the second decade of the 19th century. These changes occurred during a time of economic reversal in Alexandria associated with the War of 1812, causing the failure of creative business ventures at the time which may have included this property. Although privately owned, the current owner allowed city archaeologists to excavate and record the feature, and retrieve numerous artifacts dating to the early 19th century in Alexandria, including coat buttons, a parasol, and pottery shards.
EVENTS * click the picture to see a larger photo
» Sunday, July 6 - Family Day - Science Behind the Ice Well
Gadsby's Tavern Museum, 134 North Royal Street
All families are invited to tour the historic tavern as Junior Docents, volunteers from grades 4 through 7, share their enthusiasm for history. Let your kids be inspired by their peers as they tour the tavern where George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and others made history. Tour features the tavern's ice well and making a period dessert - ice cream. No reservations necessary. $5 for adults and $3 for children (ages 5 -12). Tour times are 1 to 4 p.m. For more information, please visit www.gadsbystavern.org or call 703.746.4242.
Child and Ice Block
» Sundays, July 6, 13, 20, 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 www.alexandriaarchaeology.org or call 703.746.4399.
» Sunday, July 13 - Civil War Reenactment Weekend
Fort Ward Museum, 4301 West Braddock Road
Civil War Reenactment Weekend at Fort Ward, recognizing the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Fort Stevens, the only battle fought in the Defenses of Washington. Union and Confederate camps and Living History activities will be presented. Saturday's schedule features a skirmish interpreting the historic battle, at 2 p.m. Sunday's schedule includes a concert by the Federal City Brass Band at 2 p.m. Fort Ward is the best preserved of the extensive network of Union forts and batteries known as the Civil War Defenses of Washington. Suggested donation, $2/adult or $5/family. Saturday, July 12 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, July 13 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, please call 703.746.4848, or visit www.fortward.org.
» Monday, July 7, 21 - 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. Both 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 www.nvfaa.org or call 703.548.0035.
» Tuesday, July 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 - Alexandria Assembly Dance Rehearsal
Gadsby's Tavern Museum, 134 North Royal Street
Gadsby's Tavern Museum's performance dance group, the Alexandria Assembly, meets most Tuesday nights for practice and instruction. Monthly donations accepted. Prerequisite: dancers must have participated in one of the Museum's Thursday night dance class series. Free! 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. For more information, please visit www.gadsbystavern.org or call 703.746.4242.
» Thursday, July 10 - Second Thursday Music: NovaZanz
The Athenaeum, 201 Prince Street
NovaZanz plays a fun variety of standards, swing and bossa nova, with a few originals sprinkled in. Maria “Pete” Durgan is on bass/vocals, John Cropp is on guitar/vocals, and Kent Stacks is on percussion. Tickets are priced at $10 per person. 7 p.m. For more information, please visit www.nvfaa.org or call 703.548.0035.
NovaZanz
» Saturday, July 12 - Civil War Reenactment Weekend
Fort Ward Museum, 4301 West Braddock Road
Civil War Reenactment Weekend at Fort Ward, recognizing the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Fort Stevens, the only battle fought in the Defenses of Washington. Union and Confederate camps and Living History activities will be presented. Saturday's schedule features a skirmish interpreting the historic battle, at 2 p.m. Sunday's schedule includes a concert by the Federal City Brass Band at 2 p.m. Fort Ward is the best preserved of the extensive network of Union forts and batteries known as the Civil War Defenses of Washington. Suggested donation, $2/adult or $5/family. Saturday, July 12 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, July 13 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, please call 703.746.4848, or visit www.fortward.org.
» Saturday July 12 - Day of Archaeology Festival
Alexandria Archaeology Museum, Torpedo Factory Art Center, 105 N. Union St., Studio # 327
As part of the Day of Archaeology Festival around the world, witness Alexandria Archaeology in action! Alexandria Archaeology will offer opportunities to watch actual archaeological processes performed at both the laboratory at the Alexandria Archaeology Museum and at the Shuter’s Hill excavation site, located on the property of the George Washington Masonic National Memorial. Both venues are free and open to the public. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, please visit www.alexandriaarchaeology.org or call 703.746.4399.

The same day, Archaeology in the Community (AITC) will be hosting the third annual Day of Archaeology Festival, at Fort Circle Park (Fort Totten), at the corner of Gallatin St. and South Dakota Ave NE, in Washington, D.C.  Archaeology organizations from D.C., Maryland, and Virginia will be present.  The public will be able to talk to archaeologists in person and learn about the science and art of doing archaeology as well as volunteer opportunities in the field.  There will be engaging activities for children, including mock-excavation, hands-on artifact displays, crafts, and lectures.  The archaeology of local prehistoric and historic inhabitants of the area will also be featured.  Visitors will have an opportunity to enjoy live music, face painting, and visits from some of D.C.’s best food trucks.  Some parking is available; the nearest Metro stop is the Fort Totten station, on the Green Line.  The event is free to the public and open to people of all ages.  For more information on the festival, please call AITC at (202) 525-1394 or email ajones@archaeologyincommunity.com.

» Saturday July 12 - Alexandria/USA Birthday Celebration
Oronoco Bay Park, Old Town Waterfront
The City of Alexandria will celebrate its 265th and the USA's 238th birthday with music, food, and fun for the entire family. The featured performance of the evening is a concert by the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra at 8:30 p.m., culminating with a Grand Fireworks Finale featuring Tchaikovsky 's “1812 Overture” and cannon support by the United States Marine Corps Basic Training School beginning at 9:30 p.m. In the event of inclement weather, fireworks only will be rescheduled for Sunday, July 13 at 9:30 p.m. 703.746.5562. Free! 7 to 9 p.m. For more information, please call 703.746.5562.
Alexandria/USA Birthday
» Saturday, July 19 - Music/Dance in the Gallery
The Athenaeum, 201 Prince Street
Join classical guitarist Mark Charles Smith for an afternoon of music in the Athenaeum gallery. Smith will play selections from his debut album, Aspens. Visitors are welcome to sit and listen or peruse the gallery during the show. The concert will also feature various dance accompaniments to Smith's solo guitar, performed by local dance company ACW Dances. Free, and family-friendly! 2 p.m. For more information, please visit www.nvfaa.org or call 703.548.0035.
Music/Dance in the Gallery
» Friday, July 25 - Farewell Mr. Gadsby Happy Hour
Gadsby's Tavern Museum, 134 North Royal Street
On July 25, 1808, Mr. John Gadsby announced that he was selling the lease on The City Tavern and was moving to Baltimore. Come one, come all to wish him well on his new hospitality adventure. With a $10 donation, attendees will receive two drink tickets, and enjoy an evening of socializing and 18th-century fun. Tavern fare will be available for purchase. Tickets $10 per person. 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. For more information, please visit www.gadsbystavern.org or call 703.746.4242.
Mr. Gadsby Happy Hour
» Open Through August 3, 2014 - Francie Hester/Symbolic Spaces Exhibition
The Athenaeum, 201 Prince Street
Francie Hester's works on steel and aluminum combine machine-tooled precision with paint, wax, and raw pigment to explore concepts relating to the passage of time, the rhythm of random events, and memory. Symbolic Spaces, her newest body of work, shifts from a linear, mathematical piecing together of sequences to examine. Free! Thursday, Friday and Sunday from 12 to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 1 to 4 p.m. For more information, please visit www.nvfaa.org or call 703.548.0035.
» 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 visit call 703.746.4356.
» Open Through 2014 - Fifty Years of Collecting: An Anniversary Exhibit of Objects from the Fort Ward Collection Exhibition Opening
Fort Ward Museum, 4301 West Braddock Road
In recognition of the 50th anniversary of the opening of Fort Ward Museum & Historic Park, this new exhibition offers a glimpse into the growth and holdings of the Museum's fine Civil War collection.The exhibit features some rare items related to the Defenses of Washington, such as an 1862 panoramic drawing of Fort Albany by the soldier-artist William Lydston, a folding camp chair that belonged to an officer in the 1st Connecticut Heavy Artillery, and a Lambley's portable copying machine used by an officer from the 57th Massachusetts Infantry. Objects that interpret the Union occupation of Alexandria, such as a proclamation declaring martial law in the city, are also featured. Examples of newly acquired objects are a field desk with personal belongings owned by a captain in the 107th New York Infantry, and a John Rogers statuary group, “Uncle Ned's School,” which aimed to portray the efforts of newly freed African Americans to better their lives through education in the post-war years.

Fort Ward is the best preserved of the extensive network of Union forts and batteries known as the Civil War Defenses of Washington. Free! Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. 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.