Each weekday for three months we shared new stories and content through #HistoricALX2U -- everything from virtual tours of the sites and museums to fun and educational activities. If you missed them the first time around, explore these tours and activities now.
Separate historic fact from fiction on #FactCheckFriday.
Ben Holt's Legacy
June 26, 2020
In 1987, DC native Ben Holt made his New York City Opera debut as Malcolm X at the world premiere of Anthony Davis’ opera, “X, The Life and Times of Malcolm X.” Throughout his career, Holt continued to celebrate his African American heritage through song with performances of Martin Luther King, Jr’s “I have a dream” speech set to music by Lee Holby, and Thomas H. Kerr’s composition of Paul Lawrence Dunbar’s “Riding to Town.” Ben passed away shortly after in 1990.
Thanks to the devotion of his mother (and longtime volunteer at the Alexandria Black History Museum), Mayme Holt, Ben’s legacy lives on, not only in the Ben Holt Memorial Scholarship at the Juilliard School, but also in his collection at the museum. It will
be catalogued and scanned so it will be accessible through the Office of Historic Alexandria’s online collections website. Another Alexandria connection - Anthony Davis is the cousin of Audrey Davis, the director of the Alexandria Black History Museum.
Abridged Concert Performance of “X, The Life and Times of Malcolm X” in 2010 ~ New York Public Library, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
June 19, 2020
Although dates of emancipation vary from state to state, June 19th has come to be celebrated throughout the United States as a day to commemorate the end of slavery. Why this date? In 1865, General Granger announced that the enslaved people in Texas were free. Texans began celebrating Juneteenth in 1866; Alexandrians have celebrated since 1889 on different days of the year and in different months. Celebrate this important date by immersing yourself in local African American history online.
June 12, 2020
On June 12, 1967, attorneys Bernard Cohen and Philip Hirschkop received the news that the Supreme Court had decided the case Loving v. Virginia unanimously in favor of their clients Mildred and Richard Loving. The Lovings had brought the suit against the Commonwealth of Virginia for its ban on interracial marriage. Their law office was located in Suite 300 at 110 N. Royal Street.
June 5, 2020
As the keepers of Alexandria’s history, Historic Alexandria is deeply aware that today is rooted in yesterday. Alexandria’s geographic location has impacted our community in various ways over time. For this #FactCheckFriday, was Alexandria ever part of DC? Look at the upper corner of this map issued in 1845. It documents an early period of the City’s history when it was still included within the boundaries of the Federal City. Only a year later in 1846, following a Federal vote permitting Alexandria to hold a referendum to retrocede, the land on the west bank of the Potomac once again became part of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Many complex and often interrelated factors influenced this move including Alexandria’s heavy economic dependence on the domestic slave trade and lack of voting rights in Congress. Learn more about these complex factors affecting this decision. #HistoricALX2U #MuseumFromHome
The south of the city starts to grow. Out of the Attic, Alexandria Times, May 26, 2016
Ask an Archaeologist
May 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29, 2020
For Preservation Month, join us on #FactCheckFriday with “Ask an Archaeologist” at 11 a.m. on FaceBook Live, on the Alexandria Archaeology or Historic Alexandria Facebook page.
Masked Braddock Cannon
May 1, 2020
Special bonus #FactCheckFriday – why is there a cannon at the intersection of Braddock and Russell Roads? Besides helping stop the spread, this monument marked the path General Braddock and his expedition (including a young officer named G. Washington) took in 1755 to Pennsylvania to battle the French. More than 150 years later, the Colonial Dames of America worked to convert some of the cannons left behind into monuments to market this path west. #HistoricALX2U #MuseumFromHome
Braddock Cannon. Out of the Attic, Alexandria Times, February 5, 2009
April 24, 2020
The building at the southwest corner of Wythe + N. Alfred Streets – museum, library, or both? Constructed less than a year after the 1939 Alexandria library sit-in, this building first opened as the Robert H. Robinson Library. While the facilities and resources were not equal to those at the whites-only branch, this place of learning was important to the African American community. It offered story hours for kids, an adult reading club, and a gathering space. Today marks 80 years since African American patrons could register for library cards. Now the building is the Alexandria Black History Museum—an important community resource, then and now. #HistoricALX2U #MuseumFromHome
April 17, 2020
Florida Water – to drink or to make you smell good? This label is from the late 19th/ early 20th century when E.S. Leadbeater and Sons was in business at the Apothecary. Florida Water had an orange scent and its graphic was inspired by the Fountain of Youth, allegedly found in the Sunshine State. It could be used it in a wide variety of ways – from mouthwash to unisex cologne to room scent. #FactCheckFriday #HistoricALX2U #MuseumFromHome
Gadsby's Tavern Ballroom
April 10, 2020
The ballroom at Gadsby’s is famous, but is it the original room that George Washington danced in for his birthday in 1798 and 1799? Because of its history, when the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC went looking for American decorative arts, they set their sights on Alexandria and the famous ballroom. The woodwork guests see today in Gadsby’s – reproduction from the 1940s! #HistoricALX2U #MuseumFromHome
Spring2ACTion: Preserving the Freedom House Museum
April 3, 2020
Yes, early giving does begin today for Spring2ACTion! Historic Alexandria is raising funds to preserve the Freedom House Museum, a building with deep ties to the domestic slave trade, so why that name? In 1988, then owner Ann B. Stone dedicated the building in memory of Lewis Henry Bailey. Separated from his family as a child, he was trafficked through this building before being sold to a Texas family. After gaining his freedom, he walked over 1,400 miles to Alexandria to reunite with his mother. Here, he became an active member of the community and his amazing life story inspired the building’s name! #HistoricALX2U #MuseumFromHome
Friendship Fire Company's Hose Reel Carriage
March 27, 2020
In 1858, the Friendship Fire Company commissioned a new hose reel carriage, but was it the typical fire red? Through paint analysis, we know it was actually first a glossy dark blue with gold leaf embellishments! Paint analysis looks at the layers of paint in cross-section to discover how they were layered over time. The carriage was painted red at a later date. #HistoricALX2U #MuseumFromHome