King Street Hospital: First Person Accounts

First person accounts from the King Street Hospital at 200-204 King Street include letters about Edward French, who died at the hospital, and family memories of a later property owner, Sigmund Bernheimer.

Page updated on Mar 8, 2020 at 1:28 PM

King Street Hospital

Edward French

Edward D. French, member of the ZoavesEdward D. French, a member of the Zoaves, died at the King Street Hospital after being shot in the lung. The following are typescripts of two letters written at the hospital to members of his family. 

Image: Edward D. French in the uniform of the Zoaves. (Courtesy of the family of Vivienne Mitchell).

Family stories from Sigmund Bernheimer 

The following are excerpts from the oral history of Sigmund Bernheimer , whose family owned a clothing and furnishings store at 200 King for many years. He says that, as a child, he sold for scrap iron hospital beds that had been stored in building at the time of the Civil War.  The interview between Sigmund Bernheimer and Mary Bauman took place on October 2, 2004. The the full transcript is available from the Historic Alexandria oral history project.

Bernheimer: The first floor everything was men’s, shoes and boots. And then, the second row of columns was men’s pants, shirts, and at the back of [unintelligible] harness-making machine, and then [unintelligible] the second, third, and fourth floors were furniture.

Interviewer: And your family went into there in 18—?

Bernheimer: 1840….In the Civil War, Alexandria was occupied by Union troops. They took the store away from the family, 1861 to 1865…. Before the fourth-floor ceiling and the roof, there’s about a four-foot crawling space up there. And there were iron [beds?] [I would be] stealing the stuff out of the store without anyone knowing it [unintelligible]… I’d take it down to this junk shop that was at Prince [Street] and Union Street, iron was probably ten cents to a hundred pounds….But that was the Civil War [beds?] they were stored up between these fourth floor ceiling and the roof, and pigeons, oh, there was open windows on the fourth floor, and pigeons would fly in and what not….

Interviewer: That must have been hard to get those out of there without anyone noticing. How old were you?

Bernheimer: Oh, I’d say probably 11, 12, 13 or so.