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City of Alexandria, VA City of Alexandria, VA
Historic Alexandria
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Page updated Sep 26, 2014 8:28 AM

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This Week in Historic Alexandria

What's New in Historic Alexandria

0929-Hermoine image2015 may not be directly associated with an anniversary of a visit by the Marquis de Lafayette to Alexandria, but paying heed to his family motto the Office of Historic Alexandria asks, “Why Not?”  Therefore, a major commemorative event in 2015 will pay tribute to Lafayette’s service to America, and the great love and respect extended to him and his memory by Alexandrians for well over two centuries.

Twenty years ago a small group of individuals came together in France to discuss the possibility of rebuilding an exact replica of the tall ship Hermione (pronounced Erm-ee-on), that brought Lafayette to America in 1780 in support of the American Revolution, and launched a long-lasting partnership between America and France.  Their efforts were successful, and the ship is now almost complete, with sea trials scheduled this year and a voyage across the Atlantic set for 2015, with the first landing at Yorktown.  From there, the ship will proceed northward, stopping at Mount Vernon and the port of Alexandria on its way to other northeastern cities and ultimately to Nova Scotia. 

The ship will arrive in Alexandria during the second week of June, and OHA is already working on a series of commemorative events and exhibits marking his service to the American cause.  When he visited Alexandria for several weeks in 1824, Lafayette was treated like a rock star by Alexandrians of the day, recognized at multiple balls and social events in his honor.  He was also the subject of a wide variety of commemorative wares produced in his honor, many of which can be found in OHA’s historic collections.  So brush up on your French, find a partner to practice Minuet steps, and prepare to be dazzled by the ship and this thrilling visit to Alexandria next June!  To see the full-color Friends of Hermione-Lafayette in America brochure, click here.


  • Friday, October 3 – Civil War Wine Dinner
    Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, 105 North Royal Street 

    Start your evening in the Museum for the first course and conversation with Gray Ghost Vineyards, whose wines are created on lands “Gray Ghost” Confederate John S. Mosby and his men operated upon during the Civil War. Then head down to the Restaurant’s main dining room to experience more wine and great food inspired by the 19th century. Tickets are priced at $100 per person inclusive, and registration is required. 7 p.m. Dress is business casual.  For more information, please visit or call 703.746.4242.

  • Saturday, October 4 – Bassoonist and Pianist at the Lyceum (WMPA)
    The Lyceum, 201 South Washington Street

    The Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic Association presents bassoonist Arnold Irchai and Pianist Anna Balakerskaia performing sonatas by Schubert and Mikhnovsky, and Piazzolla's Le Grand Tango. Free, but donations gladly accepted! 3 to 4:30 p.m. For more information, please visit or call 703.746.4994.

  • Saturday, October 4 – Concert: Jennifer Scott, Mezzo-soprano and Pianist
    The Lyceum, 201 South Washington Street

    Jennifer Scott, mezzo-soprano and pianist, presents vintage songs from around the world in jazz quartet. Audiences have commented feeling "transported back in time...wearing a white dinner jacket at Rick's in Casablanca." $20 at the door; $15 in advance. Reserve seats in advance by sending an email to Jennifer Scott. 8 to 9:30 p.m. For more information, please visit or call 703.746.4994.

  • Sunday, October 5 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, October 5 First-Person Workshop
    Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, 105 North Royal Street 

    Meant for beginners, participation in all four classes is recommended for those interested in developing their inner “historical character.” Classes are held at Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, 134 N. Royal Street Sundays, September 7, October 5, November 2, and December 7, all 2—4 p.m. Cost is $40 for the series, $12 per class as space allows; tickets must be purchased in advance either online or by calling 703.746.4242. For more information, please visit

  • Sunday, October 5 Curiosities: Every Artifact Tells a Story
    Alexandria Archaeology Museum, 105 North Union Street, #327

    We are all explorers. Whether uncovering hidden artifacts or creating the never-before seen, we celebrate the act of discovery and the compilation of remarkable things. We invite you to view our new works and installations at the Opening Reception for a special collaborative exhibit, hosted by the Alexandria Archaeology Museum and Torpedo Factory Art Center. This is a Virginia Archaeology Month event. Exhibit is open October 4-19. Free! 2 to 4 p.m. For more information, please visit or call 703.746.4399.

  • Sunday, October 5 SAGWA Scholarship Benefit Concert
    The Lyceum, 201 South Washington Street

    SAGWA (Suzuki Association of the Greater Washington Area) presents a Scholarship Benefit Concert. All proceeds will assist students who would otherwise be unable to afford music lessons; Performances by Stephanie Bramble, Linda Gutterman, Laurie Hudicek, John Kaboff, Heidi Schuller and the SAGWA flute choir. Free, but donations gladly accepted! 3 to 4:30 p.m. For more information, please visit or call 703.746.4994.

  • 0929 - Freedmen Cemetery imageOpen Through 2014 –Alexandria Freedmen's Cemetery Exhibition
    Alexandria Black History Museum, 902 Wythe Street 

    A new exhibit tracing the 150-year history of the long-forgotten Freedmen’s Cemetery, its rediscovery and how the new Contrabands and Freedmen’s Cemetery Memorial was created at the site.  Free, but donations are appreciated. Tuesday to Saturday: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday and Monday: Closed.  For more information, please call 703.746.4356.

  • 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 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

This Week in Alexandria History

0929 - Prince of Wales imageOn October 5, 1860, President James Buchanan, accompanied by none other than the Prince of Wales, passed through Alexandria on their way to pay the heir-apparent’s respects at the tomb of our nation’s first president, George Washington, at Mount Vernon.  Earlier that year, Her Majesty Queen Victoria had sent her eighteen-year-old son, Albert Edward, also known as “Bertie,” on his first Royal visit, a good will tour of Canada and the United States. Although the young Prince (later he became King Edward VII) had not yet developed his unusual sense of fashion and roguish behavior, he was indeed received as a “Royal Spectacle” in the locations he visited, and Alexandria was no exception. During the highly acclaimed tour, in New York the Prince viewed a high-wire crossing of the Niagara Falls, and later he participated in a public prayer for the British monarchy, the first held on Manhattan Island since the American Revolution.

On Sale Now

Explore Alexandria’s firefighting history on Saturday, October 11, the “Blazing a Trail: Alexandria’s Firefighting History” tour departs from the historic Friendship Firehouse Museum. Participants, age 10 and older, will learn about volunteer firefighting in early Alexandria, three devastating fires in the city, and the five volunteer fire companies. Tickets are priced at $6 for adults; $4 ages 10-17. Reservations are required, as space is limited.

Commemorative Corner

0929 - Alfred Torbert imageOn October 9, 1864, the Battle of Tom’s Brook in Shenandoah County resulted in an important Union victory, noted in the annals of history for the swiftness of the Confederate retreat.  Days earlier, Union Major General Philip Sheridan began the pursuit of Confederate General Jubal Early’s men through the Shenandoah Valley, but reversed course at a point near Staunton, Virginia, burning everything in his path that might later be used to assist Confederacy.  Early’s forces were soon supplemented by other divisions under the command of Major Generals Joseph Kershaw and Thomas Rosser, and reversed course themselves to pursue the Union troops.  U.S. Army Brigadier General Alfred Torbert, who had been verbally reprimanded just two weeks earlier, after his performance at the Battle of Fisher’s Hill, by Sheridan with the comment, “Whip or be whipped,” turned back against the Confederates at Tom’s Brook. His actions there largely resulted in a Union victory and what laughingly became known as “The Woodstock Races,” in descriptions of the Southern retreat, and finally secured Union superiority in the Shenandoah region. 



Historic Alexandria Administration
Lloyd House
220 North Washington Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
Fax: 703.838.6451

Office Hours
Monday - Friday
8 a.m. to 5 p.m.