This Week in Historic Alexandria
City Museums and
Historic Sites
Other Historic Sites and Resources
This Week in
Alexandria History
Alexandria 1838 Courthouse
On September 2, 1846, Alexandrians voted 763 to 22 to retrocede from the District of Columbia back to the Commonwealth of Virginia. Though Alexandria had been included within the District for nearly 50 years, residents lamented their loss of voting rights and lack of resources invested in the area by the federal government. A proposal to outlaw slavery in the national capital also influenced the referendum, as Alexandria was then a major slave trading center with the city's economy relying heavily on slave labor, both downtown and in the rural agricultural areas that surrounded it. When the vote was tallied at the courthouse on North Columbus Street, some African Americans sat on the curb and cried, realizing that a return to Virginia governance would end educational opportunities for black schoolchildren in Alexandria.
On Sale Now
Pres. James Madison
Join President James Madison at a Presidential Salon on Sunday, September 14 at 3 p.m., 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, and advance reservations are required. For mor information, please visit www.gadsbystavern.org or call 703.746.4242.
Witness to War and Reunion
Freedmen Cemetery Memorial

Alexandria's Freedmen's Cemetery served as the burial place for about 1,800 African Americans who fled to Alexandria to escape from bondage during the Civil War. They found a safe haven in Alexandria because of the Union occupation, but their large numbers resulted in a refuge crisis. While many found employment, other contrabands, as the freedmen were officially known, were destitute after fleeing slavery, and arrived hungry and in ill health. Many were housed in barracks, and disease was rampant. By 1864, after hundreds had perished, the Superintendent of Contrabands ordered that a property on the southern edge of town, across from the Catholic cemetery, be confiscated for use as a cemetery.

In the first year, burials included those of black soldiers, but African American troops recuperating in Alexandria's hospitals demanded that blacks be given the honor of burial in the Soldiers' Cemetery, now Alexandria National Cemetery. The soldiers' graves were disinterred and moved to the military cemetery in January 1865. The last burial in Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery took place in January 1869.

The cemetery fell into disrepair, and a brickyard and railroad cut encroached on its edges. The cemetery appeared on maps until 1939, but by then there would have been little remaining above-ground evidence of the burials. In 1955, a gas station was built on the property, followed by an office building.

More than 30 years later, historical research revealed the presence of the long-forgotten cemetery, and plans for rebuilding the Woodrow Wilson Bridge along the cemetery's southern edge focused attention on it. Archaeologists used ground penetrating radar to confirm the presence of graves on the site, and the Friends of Freedmen's Cemetery was formed to advocate for preservation of the site as a memorial. Additional archaeological excavations identified the location of graves to minimize the impact of future construction. The layout of the cemetery, revealed by the archaeological work, is carefully reflected in design of the new Memorial. Watch a recent video on Comcast Newsmakers as Elena Russo speaks with Francine Bromberg of Alexandria Archaeology about the historical research that revealed the presence of the long-forgotten cemetery.

WHAT'S NEW IN HISTORIC ALEXANDRIA
» Fran BrombergNew City Archaeologist Named
The Office of Historic Alexandria (OHA) is pleased to announce the appointment of Francine W. Bromberg as City Archaeologist for the City of Alexandria. Ms. Bromberg, who has worked as an archaeologist for the City for over two decades, has been serving in an acting role for that position since the retirement of Dr. Pamela Cressey in December 2012. After a nationwide search, 12 candidates were deemed qualified for the position, but the four-person interview panel chose Ms. Bromberg based on her extensive knowledge, depth of experience and unusual skillsets associated with cultural resource management and museum administration. Of all those reviewed for the post, only Ms. Bromberg had directed both a comprehensive community/urban archaeology program as well as a museum accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. Ms. Bromberg is a well-recognized scholar in her field, and has coordinated several major archaeological investigations during her tenure with OHA, including the Freedmen's Cemetery and Fort Ward projects occurring over the past several years.

Ms. Bromberg begins her new position immediately and may be reached at 703.746.4399 or francine.bromberg@alexandriava.gov. Please join OHA in welcoming Fran Bromberg to her important new role with City government!

EVENTS * click the picture to see a larger photo
  This week, the City of Alexandria plans a number of activities and events associated with the official dedication of the Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial on Saturday, September 6, at 10 a.m. The memorial honors the memory of the Alexandria's freedmen, the hardships they faced in their struggle for freedom, and their lasting contributions to the City.

During the Civil War, the Alexandria Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery was the burial place for approximately 1,800 African Americans who fled to Alexandria to escape bondage. The cemetery fell into disrepair and nearly faded from memory before being restored and rededicated in 2007. Now, in the sesquicentennial of both the Cemetery and the Civil War, a new memorial honors this site and those who were laid to rest there. Their descendants, many of whom will be coming to Alexandria for the dedication, now live in nearly all 50 states. The September 6 dedication ceremony will cap three days of special activities, listed in chronological order along with other Historic Alexandria events below, that focus on Alexandria's unusual Civil War and African American history.

» Tuesday, September 2 - Morrison House Presents Joseph Cavalieri
Morrison House Hotel, 116 South Alfred Street
Joseph Cavalieri is a native New Yorker, based in the East Village of Manhattan. Since 1997 Joseph has been exhibiting painted, air brushed and silk-screened stained glass. In 2013 Joseph had four one-man shows including The Society of Arts and Crafts (Boston), Duncan McClellan Gallery (Florida), Theater for the New City Gallery (NYC) and twice at Dixon Place (NYC). He also was part of a two-person exhibit at TS Art Projects (Berlin).

In 2013 his “Madonna & Prada” was acquired for the permanent collection of the Museum of Arts and Design. His piece for New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority Arts for Transit public art commission can be viewed at the Philipse Manor train station in Westchester County, New York. Cavalieri's unique glass art techniques combine modern elements with time-honored processes used by Medieval stained glass artists.

At Morrison House, Cavalieri will be showing an abundance of images of his hand painted and silk-screened stained glass works and will also do a demonstration of silk screening on glass. All are welcome to enjoy this event made possible by the Torpedo Factory Artists' Association, the Alexandria Archaeological Commission and Morrison House. For more information, please call 703.746.4399.
» Wednesday, September 3 - Preview of New Exhibition: Alexandria Freedmen's Cemetery
Alexandria Black History Museum, 902 Wythe Street
In honor of the formal dedication of the Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial on Saturday, September 6, preview the opening of a new exhibit tracing the 150-year history of the Cemetery. Light refreshments will be provided. Free! 6 p.m. For more information on this and other activities associated with the Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial dedication this week, please click here.
» Wednesday, September 3 - Lecture: Preserving Alexandria's African American Heritage: The Development of Freedmen's Cemetery Memorial
Charles Houston Recreation Center, 901 Wythe Street
Alexandria Black History Museum Director Audrey Davis and City Archaeologist Francine Bromberg will discuss the comprehensive research and community process used to identify and protect the Freedmen's Cemetery and develop Alexandria's newest Memorial recently constructed on the same site. Free! 7:30 p.m. For more information on this and other activities associated with the Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial dedication this week, please click here. To register for this lecture, please call 703.746.4554.
» Thursday, September 4 - Walking Tour: Alexandria Civil War Neighborhoods: North
Meet at Lloyd House rear terrace, 220 North Washington Street at Queen Street
Join former City Archaeologist Pamela Cressey on a two-hour walking tour of historic neighborhoods and sites north of King Street that were significant to African Americans in the Civil War period. Participants should wear comfortable shoes, sunscreen and bring along a large hat or umbrella. Free! 10:30 a.m. For more information on this and other activities associated with the Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial dedication this week, please click here. To register for this walking tour, please call 703.746.4554
» Thursday, September 4 - Illustrated Presentation: Alexandria Civil War Neighborhoods: North Alexandria Black History Museum, 902 Wythe Street
For those unable to participate on the above referenced walking tour, a one-hour illustrated presentation on the same subject will be presented in the air conditioned comfort of the Alexandria Black History Museum by Office of Historic Alexandria Director Lance Mallamo. Free! 10:30 a.m. For more information on this and other activities associated with the Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial dedication this week, please click here. To register for this presentation, please call 703.746.4554.
» Thursday, September 4 - Lecture: Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial Bas Reliefs
Alexandria Black History Museum, 902 Wythe Street
Young artist Joanna Blake will discuss the process of creating the magnificent bronze bas reliefs at the Contrabands and Freedmen Memorial, based on historical associations and using contemporary models. Ms. Blake will describe the intricate detailing she utilized to accurately portray the struggle and dignity of those who escaped to freedom in Alexandria. Free! 2 to 3 p.m. For more information on this and other activities associated with the Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial dedication this week, please click here. To register for this lecture, please call 703.746.4554.
Bas Reliefs
» Thursday, September 4 - Lecture: The Path of Thorns and Roses
Alexandria Black History Museum, 902 Wythe Street
Sculptor Mario Chiodo will discuss the symbolic themes and allegorical depiction he used to create The Path of Thorns and Roses, recently installed as the focal point of the new Memorial. Free! 3 to 4 p.m. For more information on this and other activities associated with the Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial dedication this week, please click here. To register for this lecture, please call 703.746.4554.
» Thursday, September 4 - War of 1812 Lecture: Andrew Lambert
George Washington Masonic National Memorial, Callahan Drive
Join us for When John Bull Came to Town: Alexandria in the War of 1812, a one-hour lecture specific to Alexandria and the national capital region during the War of 1812. Co-sponsored by the Alexandria Historical Society and The Lyceum, Alexandria's History Museum, this important presentation by Andrew Lambert, Professor, Kings College, University of London,
is the last lecture planned for Alexandria's commemoration of the War of 1812. Tickets are priced at $10 per person, but are free for Alexandria Historical Society members who should reserve tickets at www.alexandriahistorical.org. 7:30 p.m., doors open one half hour before. For more information, please visit www.alexandriava.gov/1812.
» Thursday, September 4 - Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial Descendant Banquet: Journey To Be Free
Charles Houston Recreation Center, 901 Wythe Street
Join with over 100 descendants of those buried at the Freedmen's Cemetery and welcome them “home” to Alexandria! A special "home-cooked style" menu of traditional favorites will be provided by local caterer Do Yourself A Flava. Tickets are priced at $75 per person. 6 to 9 p.m. For more information on this and other activities associated with the Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial dedication this week, please click here. To reserve seating for the banquet, please call 703.746.4554.
»

Friday, September 5 - Walking Tour: Alexandria Civil War Neighborhoods: South
Meet in front of Dutch Touch Deli, 1800 Diagonal Road opposite King Street Metro Station
Join former City Archaeologist Pamela Cressey, Ph.D. on a two-hour walking tour of historic neighborhoods and sites south of King Street that were significant to African Americans in the Civil War period. Participants should wear comfortable shoes, sunscreen and bring along a large hat or umbrella. Free! 10:30 a.m. For more information on this and other activities associated with the Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial dedication this week, please click here. To register for this walking tour, please call 703.746.4554.

» Friday, September 5 - Illustrated Presentation: Alexandria Civil War Neighborhoods: South
Alexandria Black History Museum, 902 Wythe Street
For those unable to participate on the above referenced walking tour, a one-hour illustrated presentation on the same subject will be presented at the Alexandria Black History Museum by Office of Historic Alexandria Director Lance Mallamo. Free! 10:30 a.m. For more information on this and other activities associated with the Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial dedication this week, please click here. To register for this presentation, please call 703.746.4554.
» .Friday, September 5 - Illustrated Presentation: Archaeology at Freedmen's Cemetery
Alexandria Black History Museum, 902 Wythe Street
Hear former Alexandria archaeologist Dr. Steven Shephard discuss the complex archaeological process of searching for burials at the Freedmen's Cemetery and the cultural resources discovered during the multi-year investigation. Free! 2 to 3 p.m. For more information on this and other activities associated with the Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial dedication this week, please click here. To register for this presentation, please call 703.746.4554.
» Friday, September 5 - Musical Performance: Journey to be Free: Descendants Returning to Alexandria
Lee Center, 1108 Jefferson Street
In celebration of the return to Alexandria of hundreds of descendants of those buried at the Freedmen's Cemetery, historian C.R. Gibbs narrates a special one-hour Arena Stage musical performance with the Howard University choir. A special production created as part of the National Civil War Project, the artistic production highlights the impact of the American Civil War on African Americans of the period. Free, but tickets are limited! 7 p.m. Parking at the Lee Center will be very limited, so public parking has been arranged at the St. Mary's School parking lot at the end of South Royal Street south of Green Street, with shuttle bus transport to the Lee Center beginning at 6 p.m. Buses will return guests to the St. Mary's School lot after the Candlelight Vigil event listed below. For more information on this and other activities associated with the Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial dedication this week, please click here. To register for the musical performance, please click here.
» Friday, September 5 - Candlelight Vigil at Freedmen's Cemetery
Begins at Lee Center, 1108 Jefferson Street, ends at Freedmen's Cemetery, Church and South Washington Streets
Immediately after the Musical Performancelisted above, a Candlelight Vigil (electric candles will be provided to participants) will leave the Lee Center and participants can walk or be shuttled the eight blocks to the Freedmen's Cemetery for a short ceremony. Please note, no seating is available at the cemetery. At the conclusion of the ceremony, buses will shuttle guests back to the St Mary's School parking area, accessed from the southern end of South Royal Street. Free! 8 p.m. For more information on this and other activities associated with the Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial dedication this week, please click here or call 703.746.4554.
» Saturday, September 6 - Dedication of the Contrabands & Freedmen Cemetery Memorial
Church and South Washington Streets
Join with the descendants of those buried at the Freedmen's Cemetery, as well as City, State and Federal officials to formally dedicate Alexandria's newest Memorial. Free! 10 a.m. to 12 noon. Parking is available starting at 8:30 a.m. in the public lot at Jones Point Park, accessed from the southern end of South Royal Street, with shuttle bus transport to the Memorial site for those unable to walk the four-block distance. Limited seating will be reserved for Freedmen's Cemetery descendants and invited officials, please bring sunscreen and a chair or blanket. For more information on this and other activities associated with the Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial dedication this week, please click here or call 703.746.4554.
» Saturday, September 6 - Special Tour: Labor at Lee-Fendall House
The Lee-Fendall House Museum and Garden, 614 Oronoco Street
This new guided tour will highlight the labor history of the Lee-Fendall House, built in 1785, in honor of Labor Day. Lee-Fendall's house history encompasses a wide breadth of labor history, from enslaved workers to unionized laborers. The tour will include sections of the house that relate specifically to the laborers and enslaved workers who lived in the house. Visitors will experience the house from the viewpoint of the domestic staff, instead of seeing the house as a guest of the family living there. Special emphasis will be placed on the life of John L. Lewis, president of the United Mine Workers and one of the most powerful and controversial labor leaders in American history. Lewis lived in the house from 1937 until 1969. Sections of the house that will be shown on the “Labor at Lee-Fendall House” tour include the slave quarters, and the downstairs and upstairs portions of the servants' wing. The new tour will be available at normal admission prices and will be offered all weekend. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for students ages 5-17, and the site is open from Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The last tour of the day begins at 3 p.m. To learn more about the museum and its contributions to Alexandria heritage, please visit www.leefendallhouse.org.
» Sunday, September 7 - 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, September 7 - Opening Reception: Influence and Inspiration in Alexandria: Highlights from The Art League's Finest Teaching Faculty Over Sixty Years Exhibition
The Athenaeum, 201 Prince Street
Many of the region's most notable artists have taught at The Art League over the years. This show highlights their superb talent and digs into the fundamentals of influence and inspiration found throughout the city. Free! 4 p.m. For further information, please visit www.nvfaa.org or call 703.548.0035.
» Sunday, September 7 - Summer Chamber Series at the Lyceum (WMPA)
The Lyceum, 201 South Washington Street
The Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic Association continues its Summer Chamber Series at The Lyceum. This week's program features pianist Haskell Small, performing a program of Federico Mompou - Musica Callada, Books One through Four. Free, but donations gladly accepted! 3 to 5 p.m. For more information, please visit www.alexandriahistory.org or call 703.746.4994.
» Open Through September 21, 2014- Influence and Inspiration in Alexandria Exhibition
The Athenaeum, 201 Prince Street
Influence and Inspiration in Alexandria: Highlights from Art League's Finest Teaching Faculty Over Sixty Years. Many of the region's most notable artists have taught at The Art League over the years. This show highlights their superb talent and digs into the fundamentals of influence and inspiration found throughout the city. Free! Thursday, Friday and Sunday from 12 to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 1 to 4 p.m. For further information, please visit www.nvfaa.org or call 703.548.0035.
» Open Through 2014 - Their Fates Intertwined: The Lees of Alexandria in the War of 1812 Exhibition
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 further information, please visit www.leefendallhouse.org or call 703.548.1789.
» Open Through 2014 - Fifty Years of Collecting: An Anniversary Exhibit of Objects from the Fort Ward Collection Exhibition
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 postwar 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.