This Week in Historic Alexandria
City Museums and
Historic Sites
Other Historic Sites and Resources
This Week in
Alexandria History
George Washington Memorial Parkway
On June 29, 1929, the federal government began construction of the George Washington Memorial Parkway, linking the Memorial Bridge at Arlington to George Washington's estate at Mount Vernon. The new four-lane roadway was based on an idea that originated decades earlier with Alexandria resident M.B. Harlow. But the monumental design features originally conceived were later adapted along the designs of the Long Island State Parkway System created in the early 1920's by master builder Robert Moses. That system, which crisscrossed Long Island to link the region's numerous State Parks, reimagined Frederick Law Olmstead's innovative park design concept developed for the City of Buffalo, New York, which linked City parks by a ribbon of park roadways, or "parkways". On Long Island, Moses' created an interconnected series of multi-lane, limited-access parkways expressly for recreational motorists, incorporating scenic vistas, lavish landscaping, stone-arched overpasses and rustic signage and lighting. But unlike the roadways created on Long Island, the new Virginia parkway largely utilized at grade crossings, including the utilization of the existing Washington Street in Alexandria.
Free Admission NOW!
Blue Star Museum
Now through Labor Day, September 1, 2014, Gadsby's Tavern Museum, the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum and Lee-Fendall House and Gardens are proud to be designated as Blue Star Museums, commemorating the service of active military families! All active duty military service members, and their immediate family, receive FREE admission to these and other museums throughout the country from now through Labor Day, September 1, 2014. Please note that you must present an active military ID in order to receive free admission. Free admission is limited to nuclear family members only (to include spouses and children).
Witness to War and Reunion
William H. Winder
During the War of 1812, on June 6, 1831, American army Acting Commanders William H. Winder and John Chandler, were both captured after a night attack on their encampment in Canada by British forces near Stoney Creek, Ontario. Winder, formerly a Baltimore lawyer, was released through an exchange the following year and in July 1814 he was appointed by President James Madison as commander of the defenses of Washington and Baltimore.

With only marginal government support and advance preparation, due to the belief by Secretary of War John Armstrong that the nation's capital was not of strategic importance to warrant a British attack, Winder could offer only few resources to protect the region. Despite Armstrong's confidence, on August 24, 1814 British forces arrived at Bladensburg, Maryland to attack Washington from the north. Winder hurriedly faced them with only a few hundred regular soldiers and a confused group of militiamen. Winder was quickly routed, and the invading army moved into Washington, burning the United States Capitol, the White House and other public buildings. Soon after, Winder was court-martialed for dereliction, but ultimately was found blameless and acquitted of all charges.



» Show GlobeOn Sunday, June 8, at the annual garden party of the Historic Alexandria Foundation (HAF), two historic properties in Alexandria were awarded grants from the organization to support historical interpretation and preservation projects. The Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum, a facility of the Office of Historic Alexandria (OHA) located at 105-107 South Fairfax Street, was awarded $3,980 to reproduce copies of two early “show globes” that enhance the curved storefront windows flanking the entrance to the 18th century pharmaceutical shop. Lance Mallamo, OHA Director who accepted the award on behalf of the museum, explained to those assembled the significance of glass show globes in early America, and the need to replace the current collection pieces which have suffered damage over the years and are in extremely fragile condition.

In the 18th and early 19th centuries the placement of show globes filled with differing colored liquids in English and American apothecary windows served as a welcome symbol to those seeking medical remedies, much as the evolution of a red and white striped barber pole welcomed those in search of a haircut or close shave. Although the origins of their earliest use are unclear, large, decorative show globes were strategically located near apothecary entrances to catch the eye of passers-by, instantly distinguishing apothecaries from similar building facades. The globes clearly symbolized the mix of chemical compounds within the building, and visually aided illiterate citizens of the availability of medical aid and care. Liquids were often displayed in the colors red and blue, and these choices are thought to represent the arterial and venous systems found in the human body. It is also believed that color choices may have changed at different times during the year to alert passers-by to the existence of the ever-changing contagious illnesses then prevalent within the community.

An additional award of $15,000 was presented by HAF President Morgan Delaney to The Athenaeum, the gallery and performance space operated by the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Association at 201 Prince Street. Catherine Aselford, Director of The Athenaeum, accepted the award on behalf of that institution and described the much-needed project to restore the four two-story Doric columns that grace the 19th century building. Built just before the Civil War as the Bank of the Old Dominion, the columns now require major restoration. The HAF grant, matched by a gift from an anonymous donor, will provide complete funding for the project which is expected to begin shortly.

A hearty “Huzzah” to the Historic Alexandria Foundation for its ongoing support of our City's historical treasures!

EVENTS * click the picture to see a larger photo
» Monday, June 23 - Herbal Medicine+Stress - Past+Present Workshop
Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum, 105-107 South Fairfax St.
Humans have always co-existed with plants, but the art of using plants as medicine was overshadowed as the principles of science and engineering were applied to medicine. The value of herbal medicine is resurfacing in the 21st century as the connections between plants and their health benefits are being rediscovered. Learn more at this workshop led by professional Therapeutic Herbalist Lin Porter. Participants will learn how herbs were and still are used to relieve stress-related symptoms while exploring practical options for coping and controlling stress in modern life. Herbs from the Apothecary collection will be incorporated into this audience-directed hour. Tickets are priced at $8 per person and reservations are required. 7 to 8 p.m. For more information, please visit or call 703.746.3852.
Herbal Medicine
» Monday, June 23 - The Art of Ballroom Dance
The Athenaeum, 201 Prince Street
Learn the fox trot, waltz, tango, swing, salsa, meringue, rumba, cha-cha, and samba. Come with or without a partner. Both beginning and advanced dancers are welcome. Tickets are priced at $15 per person. Beginner's Class 7 to 7:45 p.m., Advanced Class 7:45 to 8:30 p.m., practice at 9 p.m. For more information, please visit or call 703.548.0035.
» Tuesday, June 24 - Alexandria Assembly Dance Rehearsal
Gadsby's Tavern Museum, 134 North Royal Street
Gadsby's Tavern Museum's performance dance group, the Alexandria Assembly, meets most Tuesday nights for practice and instruction. Monthly donations accepted. Prerequisite: dancers must have participated in one of the Museum's Thursday night dance class series. Free! 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. For more information, please visit or call 703.746.4242.
» The Ship's Company ChateymenThursday, June 26 - War of 1812 Concert Series: The Ship's Company Chanteymen
Carlyle House Historic Park, North Fairfax Street Carlyle House invites you to stop by after work or a day of touring with friends and neighbors for an evening of fun on the Magnolia Terrace! As part of the War of 1812 Bicentennial Commemoration, Carlyle House and the Alexandria Bicentennial Commission have created a concert series where the Magnolia Terrace will be “invaded” each Thursday in June by all kinds of wonderful music! This week, the Ship's Company Chanteymen will journey to Virginia from Maryland! The Ship's Company Chanteymen are one of the most popular War of 1812 musical groups in the area and have a large repertoire of sailor songs from the 18th and 19th centuries. Leading the public in song and teaching the history of music dating to the War of 1812, the Ship's Company adds historical flair to any evening in Old Town! Trivia: “The Star-Spangled Banner” was written to the tune of an 18th century drinking song called “To Anacreon in Heaven”! This song is often featured by the Ship's Company Chanteymen. Free! 6 to 8 p.m. For more information, visit or call 703.549.2997.
» Saturday, June 28 - Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum Training
Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum, 105-107 South Fairfax Street
The Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum is seeking individuals 14 and older who enjoy meeting and talking with people of all ages, love history, and want to learn more and share this knowledge with others. The training process is simple and made even easier through a 3 hour class that will fulfill half of the training requirements. Final requirements can be completed on a flexible schedule by applicants.

To apply to become a docent, complete an application online through or email Those who cannot attend the June 28 training are still encouraged to apply as alternate arrangements can be made. Volunteer docents are needed both weekends and weekdays, and are asked to give a minimum of 4 hours per month (one tour shift).

The Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum in Old Town Alexandria is noted for its outstanding collection of medicinal herbs, shop furnishings, apothecary bottles and equipment, many still in their original location. It also has a spectacular collection of archival materials, including journals, letters and diaries, prescription and formula books, ledgers, orders and invoices. The names of famous customers appear in the documents, including Martha Washington, Nelly Custis, and Robert E. Lee. Free! 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. For more information, please visit or call 703.746.4739.
» Saturday, June 28 - Alexandria Archaeology's Family Dig Days
Grounds of the George Washington Masonic National Memorial , 101 Callahans Drive
Help City archaeologists screen excavated soil from a real dig on the grounds of the George Washington Masonic National Memorial! Reservations required. $5 per person. Fee is non-refundable. Children under 16 must be accompanied by a participating adult. Space is limited and reservations are required. Upon receipt of full payment, slots are secured and confirmation and additional information will be emailed. Due to the popularity of this event sessions fill quickly and participants may only sign up for one session per season. 1:30 to 3 p.m. Please note: Event takes place at the archaeological site.. For more information, please call 703.746.4399.
» Sunday, June 29 - 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, June 29 - Francie Hester Opening Reception
The Athenaeum, 201 Prince Street
Exhibition from June 26 through August 3, 2014. Francie Hester draws on the ordering principles of mathematics and science to contemplate how order and sequence are created from disconnected events. Her mixed media works incorporate elements of machine-like perfection and natural irregularities and beauty. Free. 2 to 4 p.m. For more information, please visit or call 703.548.0035.
Francie Hester Exhibition
» Monday, June 30 - History Lecture: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
The Athenaeum, 201 Prince Street
For just over a century, we have been entertained by moving pictures. The ancient world has always been a popular subject, from Cleopatra (1917) to Ben Hur (1959) to Gladiator (2000). Not just in cinema but on television as well; from the children's show, The Roman Mysteries (2007 - 08), to the more adult program, HBO's Rome (2005 - 07). Learn how to distinguish between the good, the bad, and the ugly. Lecture by historian Lauren A.M. Hammersen. Free. 7 p.m. For more information, please visit or call 703.548.0035.
The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly Lecture
» Open Through June 30 - Beyond the Battlefield Exhibition
Lee-Fendall House Museum & Garden, 614 Oronoco Street
As part of Alexandria's commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of the American Civil War, Lee-Fendall House seeks to promote the story of its role during the Civil War with a new exhibit on Civil War medical care. From 1862 to1865, the house served as a Union Hospital under the direction of Chief Surgeon Edwin Bentley during the occupation of Alexandria. The exhibit will be set up as a hospital room with medicines on display. An intricate diorama of miniature figures will depict how wounded soldiers were transported from the battlefield to house hospitals such as Lee-Fendall House. $3, admission to the exhibit included with ticket price. The museum is open Wednesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, please visit or call 703.548.1789.
» Open Through August 2014 - Sit Down and Take a Stand: Samuel W. Tucker and the 1939 Alexandria Library Sit-In Exhibition
Alexandria Black History Museum, 902 Wythe Street
On August 21, 1939, five African American men walked into the whites-only Alexandria Library and requested library cards. When refused because they were black, the young men quietly took books off the shelves and sat down to read. Library authorities quickly had them arrested, making this act of civil disobedience one of the earliest of its kind in the modern civil rights movement. This new exhibition highlights the sit-in and its behind-the-scenes mastermind, Samuel Wilbert Tucker, a 27-year-old attorney and a native of Alexandria. The exhibition also includes the previously unheralded role of Robert Strange, the little known sixth participant of the sit-in. Only 15 years old, Strange acted as a runner between the Alexandria Library and Tucker's office, keeping the young lawyer abreast of sit-in developments. Free! Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, please visit call 703.746.4356.
» Open Through 2014 - Fifty Years of Collecting: An Anniversary Exhibit of Objects from the Fort Ward Collection Exhibition Opening
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 post-war 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