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Page updated Nov 23, 2015 1:50 PM

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Welcome to Historic Alexandria! With more than 250 years of history and hospitality to its credit, Alexandria offers an array of historic and cultural attractions. Alexandria's many historic homes, churches, businesses and museums allow residents and visitors alike to experience the hand of the past that makes our city the charming and historic town it is today. Visit City of Alexandria museums and historic sites and discover our pastpresent and future!

This Week in Historic Alexandria

This week in Historic Alexandria, enjoy the many exhibits, public programs and special event activities offered by our city’s great museums and historic sites! Information on daily calendar listings, museum hours, local history and much more is included in this e-newsletter, updated each week on this webpage or delivered to your in-box.  To subscribe to this and other information from the City of Alexandria, create an e-news  account and select your notifications of interest here.

Immigrant Alexandria: Past, Present and Future

The Office of Historic Alexandria has been awarded a grant of $8,000 from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities to begin the initial phase of what is anticipated to be a new, multi-year project entitled Immigration Alexandria: Past, Present and Future. This new initiative will examine the history of immigration from the mid-nineteenth century to today in Alexandria. Oral histories of those representing different ethnic groups in the post-1970 immigrant communities of Alexandria, fundamental to the overall project, will be executed first with the VFH funding. The purpose of this first city-wide endeavor is to increase public understanding of the historic and contemporary significance of immigration to Alexandria and its impacts on our social and cultural fabric. Funding for planning and research, as well as implementation to celebrate Alexandria’s diversity through public programming, is now being developed in partnerships with both government and the private sector. 

Information About Confederate References in Alexandria

Alexandria was a key site in the Civil War -- both for the Union and the Confederacy -- and many public and private Civil War references remain today. Over the last few weeks, the City has received a number of inquiries about Civil War references The Mayor has asked that staff provide a report in conjunction with City Council's next meeting in September. The report will include information about some of the references people ask most frequently about. 

Mercy Street: PBS drama inpired by stories of Civil War Alexandria

Mercy Street, the six-episode PBS drama premiering on Sunday, January 17, 2016, is inspired by true stories of Civil War Alexandria, Virginia. Set in 1862, Mercy Street follows the lives of two volunteer nurses on opposite sides of the conflict; Mary Phinney, a staunch New England abolitionist, and Emma Green, a naive young Confederate belle. The two collide at Mansion House Hospital, a luxury hotel that has been transformed into a Union Army Hospital. Alexandria was a border town between North and South and the longest Union-occupied city of the Civil War. Ruled under martial law, Alexandria was the melting pot of the region; a place where personal stories of the Union and Confederacy converge in a city setting. The Office of Historic Alexandria will join Extraordinary Alexandria in providing visitor experiences that uncover the real people behind the characters on the show, the realities of Civil War medicine, changing roles for women, and the breakthrough experience of enslaved African Americans claiming their freedom. Watch the trailer here.

Alexandria During the Civil War: Witness to War and Reunion

The occupation of Alexandria by Union troops forever changed the social, cultural and economic fabric of the old seaport town. For four years Alexandria was an occupied city; enduring the longest military occupation by Union troops of any town during the conflict. Witness to War and Reunion brings together resources from Historic Alexandria, Friends of Freedmen's Cemetery, the Alexandria Historical Society, and the Alexandria Library, that provide some insight into the War and its effect on Alexandria and its inhabitants. Read First Person Accounts for insight from those who experienced the events, learn about Civil War Hospitals in Alexandria, visit Fort Ward Museum & Historic Site and the Contrabands and Freedmen's Cemetery Memorial, and explore Alexandria's Civil Defenses of Washington by bike.

Out of the Attic Archive

“Out of the Attic,” featuring historical photographs of Alexandria, is a column produced by the Office of Historic Alexandria and published weekly in the Alexandria Times newspaper. An archive of articles dating back to the column's beginning in 2007 appears here with the permission of the newspaperSort or search the index to learn about places or topics of interest.

The Fort: A Post-Civil War African American Community

Visit Fort Ward Park to see new historic signage highlighting the post-Civil War African American community known as The Fort. A copy of The Fort Heritage Trail Brochure is available online. This community is the focus of an effort by the Office of Historic Alexandria to study and preserve the post-Civil War historic resources of Fort Ward Park. Archaeological excavations in the park, historical research, and oral histories highlight our growing knowledge of this community. Learn about the Stakeholder Advisory Group, and about archaeological and historical research, including reports on excavations, transcriptions of oral history interviews with former residents. 

The War of 1812 Bicentennial
The War of 1812 and the five-day occupation of Alexandria by British forces in 1814, had a profound effect on the town and its economy. Threatened with an invasion and with insufficient forces to defend the city, Alexandria’s Common Council surrendered to the British without resistance. The city avoided being burned, but the was required to surrender contents of stores and warehouses. Learn more about how the War and occupation affected Alexandria, view objects from the Historic Alexandria collections, commemorate the Bicentennial with a series of events, and learn about the Signature Event, a History Festival that took place in August 2014.
Historic Alexandria Museum Store

Visit the Historic Alexandria Museum Store, online and at two convenient locations. The shops offers great gift ideas, a wide variety of Alexandria-related merchandise and the very best selections from all the Historic Alexandria museum stores. Your purchases support programming at Historic Alexandria's museums.  

  • Main Store at The Lyceum: Alexandria's History Museum, 201 S. Washington Street
  • Satellite Shop at the Alexandria Hilton, 1767 King Street 
  • Online at The Alexandria Shop.
New Publication: Gadsby's Tavern

The newest Office of Historic Alexandria publication is Gadsby’s Tavern by museum director Gretchen Bulova.  This Images of America Series publication by Arcadia features the 20th century preservation story of historic Gadsby’s Tavern, and details the people and organizations that were involved in its being saved today as a National Historic Landmark. The book is available May 4th and will be available in the gift shops of Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, The Lyceum, and the Historic Alexandria Museum Store at the Old Town Hilton.  It can also be purchased online at The Alexandria ShopGadsby’s Tavern retails for 21.99.

Historic Alexandria Educational Resources
Alexandria offers educators the unique opportunity to reinforce their teaching with hands-on experiences, field trips, lectures, educational kits and other media resources. These programs are designed to foster interest in the history and culture of Alexandria from colonial times to the present.
Contrabands & Freedmen Cemetery Memorial Now Open

The Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial was officially opened on September 6, 2014. Learn about the Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial history and archaeology of the site, view the extensive news coverage of the commemoration ceremonies, and watch short videos about the Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial on Comcast Newsmakers, of interviews with Char McCargo Bah, Audrey Davis and Francine Bromberg.

Self-Guided Tours

Explore Alexandria's Civil War heritage with a free iPHone app, find out about an array of historic and cultural attractions, go on a scavenger hunt, and walk or bike a part of the Alexandria Heritage Trail.


Historic Alexandria Birthday Parties

Make your child's birthday a historic occasion, with a party at one of several historic museums in Alexandria, including the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary, the Friendship Firehouse, and Gadsby's Tavern.

You can also schedule tours and programs at all of the Historic Alexandria Museums for school groups, scout groups, homeschool families, and camps, as well as for adults.


Seven of the city's premier historic sites are owned and operated by the City of Alexandria and fall under the administration of the Office of Historic Alexandria, the department of City government charged with the conservation, interpretation and promotion of these links to the past.

These sites - Alexandria Black History MuseumAlexandria Archaeology MuseumFort Ward Museum & Historic SiteFriendship Firehouse MuseumGadsby's Tavern MuseumThe Lyceum: Alexandria's History Museum, and the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum - bring Alexandria's varied and storied history to life. Additionally, Alexandria has many more historic sites which are open to the public and tell a significant part of the city's historical tale.

The Office of Historic Alexandria has received accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums.

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American Alliance of Museums
Accredited Museum