Wayfinding: The Athenaeum

The columned building at 201 Prince Street was constructed between 1851 and 1852 as the Bank of the Old Dominion, which claimed Robert E. Lee as a customer. During the Civil War, it was Chief Commissary Office of the U.S. Commissary Quartermaster and later a triage hospital for wounded soldiers. The Northern Virginia Fine Arts Association bought the building in 1964, restored it to its current condition, and renamed it the Athenaeum.

Page updated on Mar 28, 2018 at 3:45 PM

The Athenaeum

201 Prince Street

Athenaeum sign (click for larger image)Home to the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Association, the Athenaeum is a fine example of Greek Revival architecture, with a long and colorful history of occupation. The building was constructed between 1851 and 1852 as the Bank of the Old Dominion, which claimed Robert E. Lee as a customer.

During the Civil War occupation of Alexandria, Union forces commandeered the building and used it as Chief Commissary Office of the U.S. Commissary Quartermaster. Knowing that Northern troops would occupy the bank, the manager hid all the gold from the vault, and returned it to depositors once the war ended. The building served briefly as a triage hospital for wounded soldiers after the first Battle of Bull Run.

After the war, the building became the home of the First Virginia Bank, then a warehouse for pharmaceutical wholesalers Leadbeater and Sons. In 1925, the Free Methodist Church of North America purchased the building and used it as a house of worship. The Northern Virginia Fine Arts Association bought the building in 1964, restored it to its current condition, and renamed it the Athenaeum. Today the Athenaeum is open to the public as a vibrant space for art exhibitions, dance and musical performances, poetry readings and other literary events.

Where to find this sign

In Old Town, mini kiosks are located at designated intersections along King Street, Cameron Street, and the Waterfront to provide an orientation for pedestrians. 

This wayfinding sign is located on King at S. Lee Street. (For those taking the King Street Trolley, please check the schedule as times may have changed.)

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