Washington Sat and Worshipped Here!
Favorite thing: This modest colonial style building is the Episcopal Christ Church, in Old Town Alexandra, where George Washington and Robert E. Lee worshipped. The interior is just as modest and it is possible to sit in the pew where a plaque identifies which each of these men used.
Outside you'll find the church cemetery. Don't miss the memorial stone that indicates the mass grave. Thirty-four Confederate prisoners who died, during the Civil War, in prison camp were buried here.
Address: 118 North Washington Street.
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
An Historical Town!
Favorite thing: Alexandria offeres a view of the past in it's rustic "Old Town" area.
Cobbled streets, old brick buildings and landmarks of great historical interest can be revisited, bringing back an image which reminds us of the Revolution and the reason for creating this Nation.
Fondest memory: Driving through historic Old Town Alexandria where George Washington trained his troops in front ot Gadsby's Tavern, and seeing the places where many decisions were made to effect the early days of the United States of America and by extention, my own life, more than two hundred years later.
It is an awesome experience!
- Museum Visits
- Historical Travel
Historical Buildings Still Standing
Favorite thing: It was interesting to see the18th century brick buildings which are predominate in Alexandria.
It is hard to describe the feeling of driving through Old Town Alexandria, especially to a person coming from another country, one who didn't grow up learning about the creation of the USA. Especially, Europeans who have buildings much older than anything we have, sometimes three hundred years older, would not be so impressed.
However, anyone who loves history can appreciate the period captured in this area of town. Though the USA is less than three hundred years old--quite young compared to some cultures--its history is being preserved throughout the country and Alexandria is an especially rich repository.
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
Gadsby Tavern Museum
Favorite thing: Gadsby's Tavern Museum
134 North Royal Street.
John Gadsby owned this tavern, between 1796-1808, consisting of two buildings, one Georgian, 1785 and the other, Federal 1792. Gadsby combined these buildings to create a gentleman's tavern. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and the Marquis de Lafayette, among others, frequented the tavern. Parties, performaces of theater, concerts and small circuses, along with government meetings, to plan the Revolution, were held here .
The Tavern is now a museum and social gathering place as it was in the 18th century. The other building is now, Gadsby's Tavern Restaurant.
Tours are given.
Call (703) 838-4242 for more information.
- Food and Dining
- Museum Visits
- Historical Travel
Flowers of Mount Vernon
Favorite thing: Mt Vernon has a wonderful variety of plants and flowers across the massive property. Personally, I think the property has some of the best flowers I have seen in recent years that rival some Botanical Gardens I have visited. The flowers are at their best and most colorful in the early summer months; so plan to visit in June for the best show.
Grand Magnolia Trees of Mount Vernon
Favorite thing: One of the many things I enjoy about Mount Vernon is the large Magnolia trees on the property. The trees are massive and provide excellent shade in the hot summer months of Virginia; maybe this is the reason for why they were first planted here; it can be unbelievable hot in Virginia. During our last visit to Mount Vernon the trees were in full bloom with large white flowers that gave off a light scent; that at first I didn't know where it was coming from until my wife pointed them out.
Favorite thing: The atmosphere of an old American town
Fondest memory: When my friend Dorothy took us to Alaxandria, the first thing to do there was having a lunch at Gadsby's tavern, one of the oldest American restaurants where George Washington himself used to dine.
It was nice of Dorothy to take us there!
It was a wonderful lunch on the invitation of Dorothy, a friend of mine from Fairfax who had visited Luhansk in 1989.
You feel the good old air and solemn atmosphere of the 18th century.
The waitress dressed in the costume of the end of the 18th century and the menu emphasize that feeling.
Dorothy told us about George Washington, his stay there and how he used to take his friends to that restaurant.
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
- Business Travel
Parker Gray Neighborhood - north Old Town
Favorite thing: 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.
Potomac River - "The Nation's River"
Favorite thing: The Potomac River runs 383 miles from the West Virginia-Maryland border to the Chesapeake Bay south of Washington DC. Some of the major cities along the river include Harper's Ferry, WV, Washington, DC, Arlington, VA, and Alexandria, VA. The river forms part of the borders between Maryland and Washington, D.C. to the north and West Virginia and Virginia to the south. At the mouth of the Potomac, the river is 11 miles wide, between Point Lookout, Maryland and Smith Point, Virginia.
Numerous famous Americans were born and lived along the Potomac. Two of the most famous are George Washington and Robert E. Lee. Of course, every President and Congressman has also resided along the river while serving in Washington DC!
Various methods have been used to navigate the river. The Patowmack Canal was envisioned and partially funded by George Washington to connect the area Georgetown with Cumberland, Maryland. Started in 1785, its five short canals were not completed until 1802, and they ceased operations in 1830. The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal operated along the opposite bank of the Potomac in Maryland from 1850 to 1924 and it also connected Cumberland to Washington, D.C.
Today numerous parks line the Potomac. The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park runs is 184.5 miles along the north side of the river. Also in Maryland, south of DC, you will find Oxon Hill Farm, Fort Foot National Park, Fort Washington Park, Piscataway National Park, and Point Lookout State Park. In Washington DC you will find Georgetown Waterfront Park, Theodore Roosevelt Island, Lady Bird Johnson Park, West Potomac Park, and East Potomac Park including Hains Point. In Virginia, you'll find Harpers Ferry National Park, Balls Bluff Battlefield, Great Falls Park, Jones Point Park, Fort Hunt National Park, Mount Vernon, Leesylvania State Park, and George Washington's Birthplace National Park.
Historic Buildings of Old Town Alexandria
Favorite thing: The Historic Alexandria Foundation's Historic Buildings Survey places small oval plaques on historic structures throughout Alexandria, VA. The vast majority of these buildings are located on Fairfax St near the water, on Duke Street, and on Cameron Street.
The Historic Alexandria Foundation was created in 1954 "to preserve, protect and restore structures of historic and architectural interest in and associated with the City of Alexandria, Virginia, to preserve antiquities and generally to foster and promote interest in Alexandria's heritage."
The first citywide historic survey was undertaken by this foundation in 1960 which resulted in the first round of plaque placement, and also led to a book about the historic properties of Alexandria, called Historic Alexandria, Street by Street. The plaque initiative continues today as a program that recognizes 100 year old buildings which retain an integrity of historic architectural features.
The Foundation's map of historic buildings with plaques is available at their website (http://www.historicalexandriafoundation.org/plaques/map.aspx).
Many of these historic homes also have cast-iron fire shields on the front walls. These date from the 19th Century and were used to show that the owner had paid one of the local fire companies to respond in case of fire. Presumably, houses without shields would be allowed to burn...
Burke and Herbert Bank - established in 1852
Favorite thing: Burke and Herbert Bank is an Alexandria original, and the oldest active bank in Virginia. It was founded in 1852, prior to the Civil War in Old Town, Alexandria at Prince and Lee Streets. One of the founders, Mr. Herbert, was actually the last person born in the Carlyle House in Old Town, and he was later a Colonel in the Confederate Army.
Today Burke and Herbert Bank has 18 offices in Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax County, and Falls Church. Their main office is at 100 South Fairfax Street in Old Town Alexandria, and they have 11 other locations in Alexandria.
My favorite location is the Del Ray branch which features a towering bank sign that appears to be from the early 1900s.
Old Town Crier - Local Events in Alexandria
Favorite thing: The Old Town Crier is one of the best local sources for events and attractions in Alexandria. It is published locally, just a block off King Street, and a block from my apartment in Old Town. The glossy-cover newspaper runs a variety of features each month, as well as provides an events calendar, restaurant and bar guide, a listing of local arts and antique shops, and much more. Monthly features often cover travel, local history, hotel reviews, and more.
If you are in Old Town and need some information, the Old Town Crier is a good starting point. Look for their papers in local businesses and in newspaper boces along busy streets like King Street. It's FREE!
Address: 112 South Patrick Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314
Favorite thing: Fort Belvoir was established in 1917 during World War I. It sits adjacent to the Potomac River, easily accessible from US Route 1 or I-95.
The fort is named after Lord Fairfax's 2,200 acre Belvoir Manor plantation, with a mansion that was completed in 1741 on parts of this land. Thomas Sixth Lord Fairfax is known as the only member of British nobility ever to live in the original American colonies, and he was a close acquaintance of George Washington who lived on the neighboring Mount Vernon estate. In 1773 Lord Fairfax returned to England and in the War of 1812 the remains of the estate were destroyed by British canon fire when the Americans established a fort on the site.
Today Fort Belvoir remains an important and growing installation in the Washington DC area. They have a great Officers Club overlooking the Potomac River.
Alexandria's Cobblestone Streets
Favorite thing: Alexandria has two stretches of cobblestone streets: the first is the lower Prince Street area known as Captains' Row, and the other is Princess Street near Washington Street.
Captians' Row has very rough cobblestones with no concrete curbs or other modern features. This area is said to have been the home of many local sea captains. There is a white planter at each end of this street with a sign that reads, "Captain's Row 1783." This section of Prince Street is located between Lee St and Union St., Old Town, Alexandria. Just west of here is the area called Gentry Row on the 200 block of Prince Street.
Princess Street just east of Washington Street also has a one-block section of cobblestones. The signs at the entrances read:
In the 1790s many Alexandria Streets were paved with cobblestones. According to legend, Hessian soldiers provided labor to cobble Princess Street. These cobbles remained essentially untouched until 1979 when the street was restored using the original cobbles.
TC Williams High School - Remember the Titans!
Favorite thing: Located at 3330 King Street, this huge school has 2100 students in grades ten through twelve. The school was built in 1965, and became the city's only public high school in 1971 when the Alexandria schools were finally integrated following the 1959 desegregation law. In 2007 the original building was replaced by a brand new school building and demolished.
TC Williams high school is famous from the 2000 movie "Remember the Titans" starring Denzel Washington. The movie takes place in 1971 when the three city high schools, each of which was made up of predominately one race, were consolidated into a single multi-racial school. In the movie, as in real life, the team overcomes racial problems associated with the desegregation to go undefeated and win the state AAA championship.
Unfortunately the movie was filmed in Georgia, so none of the real scenes from Alexandria are in the movie.
- Save up to 50% on hotels.
- Hotwire.com Hotwire: Get a 4-star hotel for a 2-star price.
- Book now for big savings!
- Hotels.com Outstanding choice of hotels all over the world at fantastic prices.