This Week in Historic Alexandria
This Week in
Alexandria History
George Washington
On April 16, 1789, George Washington “. . .bade adieu to Mount Vernon, to private life, and to domestic felicity” on a weeklong journey to his inauguration in New York as the nation's first President. Along the way, Washington was feted by the people of Alexandria on April 19, with other public celebrations occurring in Baltimore, Wilmington, Philadelphia and Trenton upon his arrival in those cities. He finally reached Manhattan on April 23 and one week later was sworn in as POTUS at Federal Hall on Wall Street, now the site of the New York Stock Exchange.
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Alexandria's Firefighting History
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. For additional information, please visit or call 703.746.4994.
Kick off the Commemorative Launch of the War of 1812 in Alexandria on Thursday, April 24, at a Film Gala featuring Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World at the Old Town Theatre. The evening will include a catered cocktail reception, an exhibition of clothing worn on the film set, and a pre-screening film discussion. Tickets are priced at $45 per person, with sponsor-level tickets at $75 each; $30 of each sponsor ticket will be donated to the American Wounded Warrior Project and British Help for Heroes foundations in honor of the commemoration. For additional information, and a complete listing of 1812 Bicentennial events, please visit or call 703.746.4242.

» Contraband SchoolIn the not too distant future, two significant artworks honoring Civil War era events may bookend Alexandria, one in view of the Potomac River, the other far on the city's western edge. Along South Washington Street, work to complete the final artistic details at the Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial continues, with the installation last week of a series of bronze panels recording the names of those buried at the historic cemetery, hastily assembled in 1864 for African American refugees. In addition to the list of names officially recorded by the Reverend Albert Gladwin, the federal Superintendent of Contrabands, two bronze bas reliefs, created by sculptor Joanna Blake, have also been installed within the stone entablature. One depicts the perilous struggle of a slave family escaping from the deep South and seeking refuge in Alexandria; the other is based on an actual photograph taken at a local freedmen's school showing children, now safe behind Union lines and attending school. The official dedication of the memorial will take place on Saturday, September 6, 2014, and hundreds of descendants of those buried at the site are expected to attend.

Lincoln at the CRXPlans are also underway to develop another commemorative bas relief and sculpture relating to the Civil War, on Alexandria's West End, at the campus of Northern Virginia Community College. The Lincoln at the Crossroads Alliance ( is currently engaged in a major fund-raising effort to execute a design envisioned by the noted monument sculptor, Ron F. Tunison, who died in 2013. The innovative design will commemorate President Abraham Lincoln's Grand Review of 70,000 Union Army troops at Baileys Crossroads, Virginia in November, 1861, several months after the disastrous retreat of federal soldiers from the Battle of First Manassas. The 10-hour troop review so impressed spectator Julia Ward Howe, that the following morning she was moved to write the legendary “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

EVENTS * click the picture to see a larger photo
» Wednesday, April 16 - “An Examination of the Causes of the Civil War” Lecture
Lloyd House, 220 North Washington Street
This one-hour presentation by Charles Poland, Ph.D., Northern Virginia Community College, will provide an evaluation of the important issues that increasingly divided Northern and Southern states, ultimately leading to secession and Civil War. There will be a short period for questions and light refreshments afterward. This program is part of a series of events on the American Civil War sponsored by the Historic Alexandria Resources Commission, Alexandria American Civil War Sesquicentennial Sub-committee, and the Office of Historic Alexandria. Free! 7:30 p.m. For further information please visit or call 703.746.4554.
Dr. Charles Poland
» Friday, April 18 through Sunday, April 20 - Lee-Fendall House Easter Egg Hunt
Lee-Fendall House Museum & Garden, 614 Oronoco Street
The Lee-Fendall House 15th Annual Easter Egg Hunt returns to Alexandria for three consecutive days on April 18, 19 and 20. Once again, the museum's garden will be filled with hundreds of colorful toy-filled Easter eggs! Other activities include games, crafts, refreshments, and photos with the Easter Bunny. All children of elementary school age or younger (children aged 0-12) are eligible to participate in the Easter Egg Hunt. Older children and adults are welcome to enjoy all other activities. Tickets are available for sale through the museum's website at
Easter Bunny
» 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.
Beyond the Battlefield Exhibition
» 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.