Free Tours of Gadsby’s Tavern Museum and Other Historic Alexandria Museums
On Monday, February 20, the day of the George Washington Birthday Parade in Alexandria, several Historic Alexandria sites will be hosting special open houses with free admission.
Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, 134 North Royal Street, and the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum, 105-107 South Fairfax Street, will both be open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; the Friendship Firehouse Museum, 107 South Alfred Street, will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and The Lyceum, Alexandria’s History Museum, 201 South Washington Street, will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors may tour these historic sites for free on this day.
Also open from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. is the Historic Alexandria History Center & Museum Store, 101 North Union Street, where you can get your picture taken with the George and Martha Washington cut-out, try on 18th-century clothing, and purchase a tricorn hat or mob cap to wear along the parade route.
Did you know that Thomas Jefferson celebrated his inauguration in 1801 in the Gadsby's Tavern ballroom? What was a popular tavern beverage of the time? What was considered luxurious for overnight accommodations in the 18th century? Visitors to Gadsby’s Tavern Museum will find out at the place George Washington dined and danced.
Visitors to the Apothecary, which opened in 1796, will see its unique collection of herbs and botanicals, while discovering the important role the Apothecary played in early Alexandria. Among the featured display items will be documents from Martha Washington, our country’s first First Lady, one of several famous customers who relied on the Apothecary.
At the Friendship Firehouse, first built in 1855 and remodeled in 1871, see hand-drawn fire engines, leather water buckets, axes, sections of early rubber hose and other historic firefighting equipment. The Friendship Fire Company, established in 1774, was Alexandria’s first volunteer fire company and dates to Washington’s time.
At The Lyceum, visitors can view the new exhibition “Occupied City: Life in Civil War Alexandria.” Proud of their city as George Washington’s hometown and of their own families’ service beside him in the Revolution, the majority of Alexandrians were initially opposed to Virginia’s secession from the Union. The Civil War pulled Alexandria apart but once the war ended, the community was quick to return to familiar ways and old traditions, including their love and admiration for Washington. Visitors can also see collection items that show how Alexandrians have commemorated the Father of our Country for more than 200 years.
For more information about these events, visit www.historicalexandria.org.