|1961||Alexandrians’ passion for history inspires the first archaeological excavation within the city limits in 1961, when the wooded area of
Fort Ward’s northwest bastion is slated for a new housing development. Community concern over the potential loss of the historical significance of the site leads instead to City Council preserving it as a park and historic landmark.
|1964||Alexandria receives the All America City Award and is featured in Look Magazine in recognition of citizens’ efforts to preserve the City’s historical past from threats of urban sprawl.|
|1965||Once again, local citizens mobilize to protect the City’s archaeological resources, this time in Old Town, as a result of the Gadsby’s Urban Renewal Project. As buildings are razed, exposing artifact-laden privies, community outcry demands that the City address and halt the archaeological loss. The Smithsonian Institution agrees to finance the rescue excavation of the north side of the 300 (Market Square), 400 and 500 blocks of King Street, until 1971. Artifacts found are associated with early taverns, a comb maker, doctor’s office, and shoemaker.
|1972||A citizen group, the Committee of 100, is created to fund the archaeological excavations after the Smithsonian Institution funding comes to an end. Committee members are asked to donate $10 each per month to help finance the excavation of the south side of the 300 block of King Street. Rescued artifacts relate to a furniture factory and an apothecary.
|1973||The City Archaeologist position is established and the City funds the excavation of the south side of the 400 block of King Street (current site of the Hotel Monaco), unearthing lead type from the Alexandria Gazette, artifacts from Alexandria’s first potter
Henry Piercy, and the “...finest collection of late 18th century American ceramics anywhere,” as noted by Ivor Noël Hume, renowned Colonial Williamsburg archaeologist.
|1975||City Council establishes the Alexandria Archaeological Commission, the first of its kind in the country.|
|1977|| State archaeologist excavates the
Wilkes Street Pottery, recovering over 6,000 sherds of stoneware made by John Swann and B. C. Milburn between ca. 1810 and 1876.
The City archaeologists and hundreds of volunteers excavate the
Alexandria Courthouse Site on the south side of the 500 block of King Street, retrieving over a million artifacts discarded by early merchants and residents. An early water-purifying system and artifacts from an urban slave household are uncovered.
|1978||For the next three years, research for the first urban survey, sponsored by the State’s Alexandria Regional Preservation office, identifies Native American sites throughout the City. The survey also provides pioneering methods to locate early African American neighborhoods. The City’s first Resource Protection Plan is written.
|1979||Excavation of the 19th-century African American neighborhood “The Bottoms,” located east of the Alfred Street Baptist Church. The work initiates the Alexandria African American Neighborhood Project, which undertakes to define and study free black life in Alexandria. The following year the project continues with excavations of the “Hayti” neighborhood along the east side of the 400 block of South Royal Street.
|1981||First urban archaeology survey funded by the National Endowment of the Humanities results in the creation of maps depicting the development of neighborhoods and land use from 1790-1910. Work on the survey continues for three years and includes comparative documentary, archaeological, architectural, and oral history research.|
Alexandria Canal Lift Lock and Pool No. 1 are excavated with funding from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Maritime Preservation Program. Two years later the lock is reconstructed and a waterfront park created as part of the
TransPotomac Canal Center Project. |
Opening of the Alexandria Archaeology Museum and laboratory in the newly renovated
Torpedo Factory Art Center. |
Historic Cemetery Project begins with the archaeological discovery of unmarked graves at Christ Church cemetery. Several excavations follow, which preserve burials in other cemeteries.
A group of volunteers incorporates the
Friends of Alexandria Archaeology (FOAA), a not-for-profit organization that supports Alexandria Archaeology. |
Excavation of a sugar refinery (in operation from 1804 to 1828) begins on the 100 block of North Alfred Street and continues for the next five years. Research indicates that Alexandria was a major producer of refined sugar. |
|1989||City Council adopts the Archaeological Protection Ordinance to ensure that significant archaeological resources are preserved during development. City Council also adopts a metal detection ordinance prohibiting the search and removal of historic materials from land owned by the City.|
|1989||Virginia Abandoned Cemetery Survey identifies City’s cemeteries.|
The National Science Foundation and Institute of Museum Services fund a conservation survey and collections inventory, and renovation of the Alexandria Archaeology Storage Facility. Two million artifacts are moved to the new state-of-the-art facility in 1991. |
The public is invited to help screen for artifacts at the first
Public Dig Day. |
Archaeological investigations as part of the Stonegate development along West Braddock Road uncover a late Archaic Period (3,000-1,200 B.C.) stone tool making site.This important discovery leads to the creation of the
City’s first archaeological preserve. |
Alexandria Archaeology Summer Camp begins, offering twelve- to sixteen-year-olds an opportunity to excavate a real archaeological site. The Camp program is offered from 1993 to 2006 , and again in 2008. In December, Alexandria Archaeology receives the Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award for historic preservation. |
|1993||The Quaker Burial Ground is excavated, prior to expansion of the Barrett Library.|
Archaeology identifies 21 burials in the oldest independent African American burial ground, which leads to the creation of the
African American Heritage Park.
|1994||Partners for Livable Communities awards Alexandria Archaeology the Entrepreneurial Leadership award for its community archaeology program.|
Shuter’s Hill Plantation excavation begins and continues today, near the George Washington Masonic Memorial. The discovery of an 18th- century laundry sheds light on rural slave life. |
Alexandria Archaeology’s website is launched, as a section of the City of Alexandria’s website. |
Excavation of the
Lee Street site, which includes a wharf, taverns, and a privy from a Civil War hospital support complex, captures the attention of over 4,000 visitors as the town’s history is unearthed before their eyes. |
|1999||As part of the City of Alexandria’s 250th Birthday celebrations, Alexandria hosts the annual Archeological Society of Virginia conference and an Alexandria Archaeology Festival with over 35 regional exhibitors at the Carlyle House Historic Park. “Discovering the Decades” explores 250 years of history in Alexandria Archaeology’s newsletter.|
|1999||The Alexandria Archaeological Commission, with input from the community, created the City’s 250th Anniversary Time Capsule. The Capsule was buried January 2000 in the Beatley Library Courtyard, and marked with an historic canal stone and a commemorative plaque. The Capsule is to be opened in 2099.
Archaeological investigations taking place from 1999 to 2002 in the West End in preparation for the development of the AMC Theaters, uncover the
West Family Cemetery and burial vault (ca. 1750-1806). |
Alexandria Archaeology’s 1999 Virginia Archaeology Month “Held in Trust” poster is selected for the first-place poster award from the Society for American Archaeology. |
Woodrow Wilson Bridge construction requires excavations at Jones Point Park. Subsequent excavations resulted in the discovery of the oldest Alexandria artifact found to date, a Kirk spear point (ca. 8,000 to 6,500 B.C.). (An older Clovis point was found in 2007.) Other findings included evidence of a 19th-century ropewalk and a World War I shipbuilding complex. Plans included an interpretive trail to be completed in 2011. |
|2002||The Museum is included in the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom, sponsored by the National Parks Service, based on extensive research on runaway slaves.|
Publication of the
Walk and Bike the Alexandria Heritage Trail, a 72-page guide to a 23-mile loop exploring Alexandria’s rich cultural and archaeological past. This guidebook is available from the museum shop and online from The Alexandria Shop.. |
Archaeological evidence of burials at the Alexandria’s
Freedmen’s Cemetery, forgotten for nearly a century, leads to the decision to preserve the site as a memorial park. |
“In the Philadelphia Style: The Pottery of Henry Piercy,” by City archaeologists Barbara Magid and Bernard K. Means, is published in the illustrated yearly journal Ceramics in America. This is the first of several articles on ceramics from the Alexandria Archaeology collection to appear in the journal. |
Archaeologists from R. Christopher Goodwin & Assoc. excavate "Colross," a two city block urban estate built by John Potts around 1800. Through the years it was the home of the Jonathan Swift, Thomsen Mason and William Smoot families. Excavations uncovered an extensive brick basement and the base of the family burial vault. |
At Cameron Mills, archaeologists from R. Christopher Goodwin & Assoc. uncover the stone foundations of a pair of mills, built in the 1790s to process grain. In 1851, one of the mills was converted to a water pumping station to move water from the millrace up to the reservoir of the Virginia Water Company on Shuter's Hill to supply Alexandria with its first piped-in water supply. |
|2005||The City and the Alexandria Archaeological Commission are awarded the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities’ Mary Mason Anderson Award for three decades of ongoing preservation of Alexandria’s history and archaeology.|
Oxford University Press publishes Digging for the Past: Alexandria, Virginia, by City Archaeologist Pamela J. Cressey and Margaret J. Anderson. “Digging for the Past” goes around the world with working archaeologists to explore the discovery, excavation, and study of archaeological sites. This book is available at the Museum and online from the
The Alexandria Shop. |
City archaeologists excavate
Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery to identify grave locations to insure their protection in the future design and development of Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial. More than 500 graves, of the 1,800 known burials, were identified in all phases of the multi-year project. Archaeologists discover that the 19th-century cemetery was dug through an important prehistoric site, and Alexandria’s oldest artifact is found – a 13,000-year-old Clovis point, of the Paleoindian period. |
|2007||Alexandria Archaeological Commission starts the annual Bernard (Ben) Brenman Awards for Archaeology to honor individuals, groups and companies that have demonstrated high quality work, innovation, commitment, or extraordinary efforts in preservation, research, protection, enhancement, creation of historic parks and open spaces, documentation, education, public appreciation, and advocacy in relation to the archaeology of historic Alexandria. Awards are presented by City Council in October, Virginia Archaeology Month.|
|2008||International competition for design of Contrabands and Freedmen's Cemetery Memorial attracts more than 220 entries from around the world from web-based announcement, guidelines and materials prepared with assistance of City archaeologists.|
Alexandria Archaeology staff, volunteers and Commission members conduct
research on the history of the Alexandria waterfront and participate in the City’s Waterfront Planning process. Materials presented at a community planning charette include
maps showing historic buildings and the earlier shoreline and |
|2009||Archaeologists excavate the Bruin Slave Jail at 1707 Duke Street. Joseph Bruin, a slave trader, used the building from 1844-1861, to house slaves before he shipped them to the south.|
|2009||City Archaeologists returned to Fort Ward Park to work with residents, museum staff, and descendent families in developing a historical resource inventory using GIS overlay maps and ground penetrating radar.|
Alexandria Archaeology and Fort Ward Museum sponsor a Civil War Bike Tour to help kick off the upcoming Civil War Sesquicentennial beginning in 2011. |
|2010||The Alexandria Archaeological Commission produces the Alexandria Waterfront History Plan: Alexandria, A Living History, and submits it to the City Council for consideration in the development of the Waterfront Small Area Plan.|
|2011||Alexandria Archaeology continues City Council's Fort Ward initiative to identify unmarked graves and archaeological resources through Stage 1 investigation into “The Fort,” an African American community dating to c. 1860s-mid-20th century. The Fort Ward History Group, with community volunteers, continues research into The Fort’s past. 2011 marks 50 years of archaeology in the City.|
The Alexandria Archaeological Commission celebrates 50 years of archaeology in Alexandria with presentations to the Alexandria City Council Work Session, September 27, 2011. |
The City of Alexandria and Alexandria Archaeology receives the inaugural
Daniel G. Roberts Award for Excellence in Public Historical Archaeology on January 6, 2012 at the annual Society for Historical Archaeology conference in Baltimore. SHA honored Alexandria Archaeology for its 50 years of public service and excellence. |
|2015||The 1755 Town Warehouse, built by John Carlyle, was found in construction at 220 S. Union Street. Learn about the latest Archaeological Discoveries on the Waterfront.|