Alexandria has a Visitor's Center located in Old Town in the Ramsey House at the corner of King and North Fairfax Streets.
It is open daily from 9:00am to 5:00pm with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Years Day. Address: 221 King Street
Telephones: 703 838 4200
703 838 6494
Parker Gray Neighborhood - north Old Town
Driving through the north side of Old Town, particularly along Wythe Street, you'll notice some of the street signs say "Parker Gray" in tiny letters under the street name. After some research I've discovered that Parker Gray is the name of Alexandria's largest historically black neighborhood. This section of town was named after Sarah Gray, the principal of Hallowell School for Girls and John Parker, principal of Snowden School for Boys. In 1920 a combined school was built and named after these local administrators. Parker Gray High School was later built in this same neighborhood in 1950. The opening of the Braddock Road Metro Station in 1983 brought change to the neighborhood including new office buildings and gentrification.
Old Town Gem & Mineral
Near the waterfront and a block off King Street, this "gem" of a store is a great place to browse. They specialize in birth-month gemstone "trees" and also have a good selection of small and large gemstones, crystals, rocks, & fossils. They aksi have a small selection of gemstone jewelry.
Jones Point Park and Lighthouse
Jones Point is the largest open space in Old Town Alexandria and it features a lighthouse, one of the original city of Washington DC boundary markers, trails, and playing fields. There are several historic sites here including old shipbuilding yards, the light house, Native American sites, and more.
The Jones Point Lighthouse was built in 1855 and is the oldest surviving inland lighthouse in the US. Operations at the lighthouse ceased in 1926, but it was partially restored in the 1990s.
The first boundary stone from original 1791-1792 survey of the District of Columbia stands just a few feet from the lighthouse along the water. This south cornerstone from the survey remains in the seawall south of the lighthouse. There is a small plaque marking the location and the boundary stone is visible through a small hole cut in the seawall.
Jones Point was also inhabited by Native American for thousands of years. Two Native American dwellings have been discovered here, which are the only Native American structures ever found in Alexandria. These people lived here 9,200 to 500 years ago in seasonal camps while utilizing local resources from the river.
The Mount Vernon Recreation Trail runs along the edge of the park under the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.
Just north of the lighthouse is a stand of 80-foot trees that make a prime habitat for migrating birds seeking food and shelter.
St. Mary's Catholic Church & Cemetery - Old Town
St. Mary's Catholic Church was founded in 1795 and is the oldest Catholic parish in Virginia. The original church was established by Revolutionary War veteran Colonel John Fitzgerald, and it is said that George Washington was the first to donate money for construction. The original church was constructed on the southern edge of Old Town where St. Mary's Cemetery and school are located today. But this site was too distant from central Alexandria, so it was decided to be moved into town.
The second St Mary's Catholic Church was a facility purchased from the local Methodist congregation in 1810. This church was built in 1791, and was located on Chapel Alley in Old Town. This property is still part of St. Mary's grounds.
William Thorton Alexander deeded the church's current location to St. Mary’s in 1803, and the structure was completed in 1826.
In 1969 and 1976 Pope John Paul visited Alexandria, VA and St. Mary's Catholic Church.
St. Mary's the oldest public Catholic Cemetery in Virginia and the oldest active cemetery in Alexandria. The first burial was recorded in 1798 and the cemetery contains grave sites of soldiers, slaves, free blacks, and whites.
The plaque at the cemetery entrance reads "This stone taken from the canal of the Potomac Company of which Washington and Fitzgerald were Directors commemorates the erection of the First Catholic Church in Virginia, A. D. 1795, which stood until 1839 about twenty feet behind this marker.
In grateful acknowledgment of their aid in establishing this church the three trees to the north of this stone have been dedicated as follows to General George Washington as subscriber to the building, Colonel John Fitzerald, his favorite Aide de Camp, as the collector of the building fund, Colonel Robert Hooe, Major of Alexandria, as the donor of the acre of land.
In commemoration of the bicentennial of the birth of George Washington this tablet was donated by the Holy Name Society of Sacred Heart Church (Vailsburg), Newark, N.J. on the 135rd anniversary of the funeral of Colonel John Fitzgerald, December 4, 1932."