Mount Vernon displays a portrait of Martha Washington in her wedding attire. Her dress is of gold material with a purple overlay and is displayed along with the shoes and necklace. I guess Martha liked bucking the traditional bridal white...
The Old Presbyterian Meeting House seen today was built after a fire destroyed the original building in 1835. Though this was and is an active church it is called "Meeting House" as a reference to the time when all other religious congregations, except the Church of England, which was the only recognized church, had to be called "meetings." T
You'll notice pews with doors at the ends. This is because at the time all "Meeting Houses" were required to keep all doors and windows open during a meeting. People of the congregation brought hot bricks to keep warm and the doors helped to keep the heat in.
In the church cemetery is a grave marked simply by the American flag. It is the grave of an unknown soldier from the War of Independence.
This church is not really a tourist site, but anyone interested in history might find it worth a stop. Tread lightly, keep in mind that it is an active church and though they do welcome visitors, they shouldn't be disturbed in their duties or worship.
Visit the Torpedo Factory Art Gallery down on the waterfront. Its free.
This used to be a torpedo factory from the end of WWI through WWII. In fact, after the war this building housed the official transcripts of the Neuremberg Trials! Later they were transferred to the National Archives.
Old Town Alexandria is the oldest section of Alexandria and where most of the historic landmarks can be found in the city. Old Town dates back to 1749 and chocked full of historic houses, shops, parks, restuarants and art galleries.
Old Town Alexandria is one of my favorite spots in the D.C area and I prefer to stay in the area if the Westin has availability. I truly enjoy walking the streets; there really is something new I see every time we visit. The Waterfront area by the Patomac is quite nice and perfect for a stroll in good weather. There are some nice restaurants and pubs in Alexandria; so it is relatively easy to find a good meal without having to take public transport or driving.
Walking Old Town provides plenty of opportunity to view the historic houses that line just about every street in the area ; churches, businesses and private residences. If history or architecture is what you enjoy; you will love exploring Old Town.
Located at the Torpedo Factory Art Center on the third floor, the museum has interesting exhibits of the history of Alexandria going back centuries. Now this was not something I sought out to so, I just chance upon it just like the Art center while at the Marina. It does take someone with keen archaeological interest to spend time going through the exhibits. I did find it interesting as I looked at the small bottles, and other pieces of finds that make Alexandria one od the nation's best preserved historical towns.
The Lee Street exhibit featuring 'A community Digs its past' is currently on display, the other interesting exhibit is the Alexandria Heritage Trail. If you have children with you, they will enjoy some of the hands on activities they have at the museum too. It is worth a stop, should you find yourself in Old town Alexandria.
Perhaps one of the more exciting and historic of the attractions in Alexandria is the George Washington Masonic Memorial. Now, you do not need a guided tour to see it all, however, if you are one of those people who likes guides, you will be glad to know that guided tours are offered daily, several times a day to two exhibits; the George Washington Museum on the fourth floor, and the Freemasonry exhibit on the third floor. Once you are done, you are guided to the observation deck from where you have an outstanding view of Washington DC and Alexandria.
About the memorial; the giant structure was built to honor the memory of the founding father George Washington as the name suggests. He was a free mason and so the memorial preserves the history of American Freemasonry as well. Inside the memorial are a museum, Freemasonry exhibit, research center, theater and a library. The architecture is reflective of ancient Roman and Greek styles of building, the interior hall is composite. The three levels of the tower ascend in levels of complexity with Doric features at the bottom. It is a landmark in Alexandria and can be seen from all four corners.
You will want to see the memorial hall; entering it feels like entering the temple of Apollo and Zeus. On either side of the portico are tablets engraved with passages from Washington's correspondences. Next to memorial hall is the lodge rooms, and beyond the hall is the classical theater, massive enough to accommodate nearly four hundred people.
The Grand Masonic hall is directly below the Memorial Hall, it is something to see. The Founders hall Exhibit is adjacent to Memorial Hall. It features Charles Callahan the force behind the creation of the entire memorial. I found the black and white squares on the floor quite exciting; enhancing everything on the walls and on display.
For souvenirs, there is a gift shop located off the main entrance. I believe they have group tours too, as we were leaving, there were two huge tour buses arriving, and at the entrance were a man and woman dressed up like they had just walked out of year 1776.
Alexandria is a beautiful charming seaport town. The middle portion of it was declared a Historic Landmark in 1966. It has 18th and 19th century buildings that add charm and intrigue to it. Some of the attractions that qualify it as a landmark include Christ Church, Gadsby's Tavern Museum, Bank of Alexandria, Alexandria City Hall, Art Deco, the Courthouse and Burke and Herbert Bank.
This is a great place to visit. The coffee shops, restaurants, people and attractions make it worth while to visit.
The Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum is a former apothecary (pharmacy) shop located in Alexandria, Virginia. It operated continuously for almost 150 years. After shutting down it was eventually converted to a museum and is operated by the City of Alexandria. You can pay a nominal fee to tour the shop. The tour takes about 30 minutes and among other exhibits are the work / storage room still filled with pharmaceutical herbs.
Christ Church was the first Episcopal Church in Alexandria and has played an important role in the life of the city since its completion by John Carlyle in 1773. The church was designed by James Wren in the colonial Georgian style. George Washington and Robert E. Lee were regular worshippers. Other prominent persons have worshipped here, including many U.S. presidents.http://www.historicchristchurch.org/VisitUs/VisitorsHistory.aspx
One of the photographs of the headstone reads:
Erected in memory of Eleanor Wrenn the wife of Mr. Daniel Wrenn, who departed this life in the 7th day of April in the year of our Lord 1798, aged 32 years. Revelations Chapter 14, verse XLII. This stone was placed over her by the order of her disconsolate husband, who was left with two children to lament his loss - John Renweld, her son being only three years old when his mother departed this life, and Dinah Eleanor the daughter aged seven days.
Alexandria Visitor Center
221 King Street Alexandria, VA 22314
Mrs. Ramsay was a cousin of George Washington; and her husband William Ramsay was one of the founders of Alexandria. He was a Scottish merchant and had his house built facing the river because back then he could see his ships come and go out of the harbor. During the 18th & 19th century the house had been a tavern, grocery store, rooming house, and cigar factory. Sadly a fire destroyed most of the original buidling in 1942, but the city saved it and had it restored. It now houses the Visitor Center.
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day
The Plaque Reads:
The Carlyle house completed in 1753, was the residence of one of 18th century Alexandria's leading citizens John Carlyle a properous merchant and landowner.
Although the earliest know engraving of the Carlyle House appeared in Harper's New Monthly in 1880 it showed the house at an earlier time. The simplicity of the landscaping in front is in keeping with the style of the mid-18th century. The large pointed trees are either Lombardy poplars or cedars planted on a lawn reserved for funtional actrivities. The lack of shrubbery, especially as foundation plantings, is also typical of the 18th and early 19th centuries.
The flanking outbuilding on the right was Carlyle's kitchen in the southern colonies, kitchens were in a separate building to keep the smoke, heat, and odors of cooking away from the main house and to lessen the danger of fire, the kitchen stood approximately where the law building is today.
The left outbuilding was Carlyle's office and counting room for his extensive mercantile operations attached to the left of the office were a store and a warehouse along Fairfax Street approximately where the 1807 Bank of Alexandria now stands.
Carlyle House, Harper's New Monthly, February 1880. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.
Toward the rear of the Bank of Alexandria was the site of other Carlyle outbuilding such as the stable, couch house, necessary, smokehouse, dairy, and storage sheds. This plan drawn from a 1756 insurance policy, show the relative locations of the outbuildings.
Assurance policies of William Herbert, March 1796 Mutual Assurance Society of Virginia Courtesty of the University of Virginia, Alderman Library Composite Drawn by Donald Stumpe.
House Museum, Gardens and Gift Shop
Sat - Friday 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Sunday 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM
When I can, I like to include information of city halls since so much is in direct relation with them as far as the tourist industry and activities. We came upon this night while they were having a evening concert here in the City Halls court yard. I couldn't help take the picture of that wonderful glorious flag.
Alexandria's city hall was founded in 1749. The tall, steepled tower, which contrasts with the building's Second Empire-style massing and detailing, is a reconstruction of a tower designed by Benjamin H. Latrobe that was part of Alexandria's 1817 town hall. That hall burned in 1871. In 1960-61, an addition was built on City Hall, filling in the old courtyard. The building was reoriented toward the south with the new entrance facing King Street and Market Square, an open, landscape plaza with central fountain, completed in 1967 as part of the Gadsby Commercial Urban Renewal Project. Beginning in 1981, the building was renovated to link the 1871 building and the 1961 addition with new elevators, stairs and corridors.
Washington drilled troops here for both the French and Indian and the Revolutionary Wars. At Arell's Tavern, once located on this site, Washington chaired a committee in 1774 that adopted the Fairfax Resoves.
Hours of Operation: M-F 8 AM to 5 PM
I did not anticipate stopping at this house but as I was waiting for some of the other tours I decided to stop here. It was a beautiful house, although I had no idea who this Carlyle person must be. :)
However, I had some time so I went on a tour led by a nice guide. It was just her and I so it was more of a private tour. :) You begin the tour in the gift shop/basement/slave quarters. Then you see a video about John Carlyle and his upbringing. After the video you tour his living areas and bedrooms. Each room has lovely artifacts and are decorated in time period antiques.
Tuesday - Saturday 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Sunday 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Ages 4 and Under Free
Age 5 - 12 $3.00
Age 13 & Over $5.00
History copied from the website:
Carlyle House stands as a reminder of Alexandria’s prosperity and growth during the mid-eighteenth century. One of the founders and first landowners in Alexandria, John Carlyle and his first wife Sarah Fairfax, moved into their completed house on August 1, 1753. That same night, she gave birth to their first son, prompting John to write to his brother George “its a fine beginning.” Sadly, John's beloved wife Sarah died on January 22, 1761 after giving birth to their seventh child, a daughter named Anne. On October 22, 1761 John then married the daughter of town trustee, Hugh West.
The story of Carlyle House parallels the early history of Alexandria, colonial Virginia, and America. Restored during the statewide celebrations for the Bicentennial, the house is owned and operated by the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority. Carlyle House interprets the lifestyle of an 18th-century Virginia family and their servants and slaves.
This is the home of the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Association (NVFAA). It features a variety of art programs, to include painting, photography, architecture shows, theater, music, storytelling, and more.
This Greek-Revival building was built in 1851-52. It was originally the Bank of the Old Dominion. Many prominent locals, including General Robert E. Lee, banked here. During the Civil War, it became a Union commissary, and later a field hospital. It later served as an apothecary, and as a church. It was purchased by the NVFAA in 1964.
This historic tavern was a popular watering hole for many local residents during the 18th century. This included General George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison, and the Marquis de Lafayette. It was here that he gave his last official order as the commander of the Continental Army. It also had a small inn. This is now a restaurant and museum (see my Restaurant tips for more).
Inside the museum are exhibits on the life of early colonial taverns. People came here not only to drink, eat, and socialize but often to stay. Travelers slept in the rooms upstairs--often crammed in three or more to a bed. There was no indoor plumbing; they had to use the chamber pots provided or the outhouse.