Alexandria: Making History

Alexandria: Making History

Fort Ward Park

Fort Ward Museum and Historic Site

4301 W. Braddock Road


Fort Ward served as the fifth largest Union fort in the defense of Washington, D.C. during the Civil War. Now, visitors can take a self-guided tour of Fort Ward, which sits upon a 40-acre historical site. A Civil War Museum and reference library are also on the grounds, as well as an outdoor amphitheater, a playground and picnic areas. Guests can start the day by visiting the museum and learn of the history of Fort Ward through an orientation exhibit and a 12-minute video presentation. Fort Ward Museum is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Sundays from noon to 5. The rest is open from 9 a.m. to sunset.

Christmas in Camp

Learn how the holiday was observed during the Civil War with living history interpreters, period music and light refreshments. Will be held on Dec. 9.

Revolutionary War Encampment

Living history presentation with authentic skirmishes. To be held Feb. 18.

Memorial Day Jazz Festival

Performances will be scheduled for 2007. Food and drinks will be for sale, picnic baskets welcome. Free.

Civil War Camp Day

Living history program featuring Union and Confederate re-enactors and civilian interpreters. This late-war event features camp scenes, children’s games, vignettes, firing demos and tours of the fort. Annual event next held in June 2007.

Gunston Hall Plantation

10709 Gunston Road


Tours of George Mason’s plantation estate are year-round. Topics include slave life tours, the world of women, farmyard tours and hidden landscapes. Special activities include Plantation Sleuth for children on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the summer, Constitution Day in September, Nature Walk in October and Archaeology Day in October. Admission cost is $8 for adults, $7 for those 60 and over and $4 for students.

Join the Colonial Cooking


Cooking demonstrations are just one of the many events at Gunston Hall, a 550-acre National Historic Landmark that was originally the home of George Mason. Other events include military reenactments and children’s events. They have special holiday events as well and they have a beautiful setting on the Potomac River, perfect for picnic, party or special event.

’Tis the Season for A Plantation Christmas

Step back in time Dec. 8 and 9, 6:30-9:30 p.m. into an 18th-century holiday season on the plantation. Follow the path of lanterns to the mansion and tour rooms by candlelight. Ride in a horse-drawn carriage, sip steaming cider in front of a bonfire, and taste food prepared over an open hearth.

Costumed characters greet you in the house and on the grounds as they take part in dancing, fiddle playing and other 18th-century activities.

$14 for adults, $7 for ages 6-18, free for children under age 6.

Mount Vernon Estate

George Washington Parkway


View George Washington’s historic home which resides on a 500-acre estate overlooking the Potomac River. Visit the dozen or so outbuildings that have been restored greenhouse, stables, slave quarters and kitchen.

Visit the estate for special events, such as a biannual wine festival, colonial craft fair, Independence Day Celebration, throughout the year.

Celebrate the Holidays

The Washingtons’ seasonal entertaining is interpreted daily, including Christmas Day and New Year’s Day; the rarely seen third floor is open. Takes place during daytime hours Dec. 1 to Jan. 6, 2007.

Birthday Celebration

Admission is free to George Washington’s home with a wreath-laying ceremony followed by musical performances. Held on Presidents’ Day.

Red, White and Blue Concert

A day-long celebration at George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens. 18th-century patriotic music, a wreath-laying ceremony, performance by the National Concert Band of America and birthday cake. To be held on July 4.

Fall Harvest Family Days

Oliver Evan’s system for grinding corn into corn meal. George Washington owned the patent on this system.

It will be shown at Gristmill in October. Apples will be roasted. Included with price of admission.

Mount Vernon by Candlelight

Learn about George and Martha Washington’s Christmas traditions, meet historic characters and tour the home by candlelight, including the rarely seen third floor. Will be held 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays Nov. 24-Dec. 10.

Mount Vernon Forest Trail

This nature walk through George Washington’s wilderness leads past mature oak and hickory trees, past holly and laurel shrubs and features attractions such as Washington’s cobble quarry and a wooden footbridge over a 100-foot wide ravine. Interpretive signs throughout the trail list facts about the woods and wildlife.

Enjoy a Glass of Virginia Chardonnay

Wine Festivals at Mount Vernon, held twice a year in May and October. The May event is more formal and business oriented, while the October event is more laid back. Both offer wine in one of America’s most historical, most beautiful backyards and a visit to George Washington’s wine cellar. There are also great views of the Potomac and a tour of the Mount Vernon Estate. Learning about Virginia’s wineries is a bonus.

See an 18th-century

Water-Powered Mill

Visitors will tour an 18th-century water-powered mill in operation by a colonial-attired miller. They will discover how it works and learn about the character and accomplishments of George Washington — one of the nation’s most innovative and successful farmers.

Historic Garden Tour of Alexandria



This tour features privately-owned Old Town homes and gardens, historic churches and other historic properties. Part of the “America’s Largest Open House,” which highlights over 250 locations in Virginia during Historic Garden Week in April.

Guided Archaeology Tour

Saturday, Oct. 21

Schuter’s Hill


Take a guided tour of the dig at Schuter’s Hill, near the George Washington Masonic National Memorial. Free. Reservations required. Next tour at 1:30 p.m., Oct. 21.

Alexandria’s Heritage Trail

Alexandria Archaeology Museum


Take a 20-mile, guided bike tour and learn about the city’s history along the way. Free. Reservations and helmets required. Next tour will be 10 a.m. on Oct. 14.

Check Up On History

John Q. Adams Center for the History of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery

One Prince St.



Dedicated to the history of treating the ear, nose & throat, this unusual museum includes a display of hearing aids, surgical instruments and rare books.

Roots Remembered: African American Heritage

African American Heritage Park

Holland Lane and Duke Street


“Truths that Rise from the Roots Remembered” is the name of the bronze tree sculpture by Jerome Meadows that honors the contributions of African Americans to the growth of Alexandria.

The 8-acre park, near Hooff’s Run, surrounds a 19th-century African American cemetery discovered by Alexandria Archaeology.

The park is available to rent for some events.

History, Page by Page

Alexandria Black History Museum

902 Wythe St.


Originally the segregated library for Alexandria’s African American residents, the Center documents the local and national history, culture and contributions of Black America. The museum plays host to a variety of events throughout the year, including special exhibits, lecture series and holiday festivals.

Pay Respects to Soldiers of the Past

Alexandria National Cemetery

1450 Wilkes St.



One of the 14 sites established and dedicated by President Abraham Lincoln in 1862 to serve as military burial grounds. The cemetery contains some 3,500 graves of Civil War soldiers, including U.S. Colored Troops and four men who lost their lives chasing Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth.

Spend Time with Spooks and Spirits

Alexandria Colonial Tours


Alexandria’s original ghost and graveyard tour. Entertaining, costumed guides take you by lantern-light on a six-block walking tour filled with ghosts, spirits and legends of this historic city. Tours offered seasonally and leave from Ramsay House Visitors Center, 221 King St. Company also offers other child-friendly tours.

Step into the Past

Alexandria’s Footsteps to the Past


Learn about early history of Alexandria, documented ghost sites and visit a cemetery where George Washington’s friends sleep. Tours leave from Ramsay House Visitors Center, 221 King St. Seven days a week the tour starts at 7 p.m. On Fridays and Saturdays it also starts at 8:30.

Walking with Washington

Bob Madison



Take this free, two-hour walking tour to learn about Alexandria’s favorite son. Leaves at 1:30 p.m. from the fountain in Market Square, 301 King St. on Sundays in February 2007.

Land and Water Meet at River Farm

American Horticultural Society

7931 E. Boulevard Drive


Originally part of the estate of George Washington, the farm features 25 acres of lawns, gardens, meadows and woods on the Potomac River.

Symposium on George Washington

George Washington National Masonic


101 Callahan Drive


This annual event looks at a specific time period in Washington’s life. Event will take place on Feb. 10, 2007.

Gadsby’s Tavern Birthday Celebration

Annual George Washington Birthnight Banquet and Ball

Gadsby’s Tavern Museum

134 N. Royal St.


Tavern fare, toasts to George Washington and 18th-century dancing, President’s Day Weekend. Held since 1797. Tickets are $75 for banquet and ball; $30 for ball only; advance reservations required. Free open house the following Monday.

Lantern Tours

Gadsby’s Tavern Museum

134 N. Royal St.


The seasonal return of these popular candlelight tours, offered Friday nights, focusing on tavern life in the 18th century. $5, $2 for ages 11-17, free for 10 and under. Call in advance to ask for times.

Death Comes to Carlyle

Carlyle House

121 N. Fairfax St.


The historic house presents an exhibit on the mourning practices of 18th century Virginia, with the house itself draped in mourning. Will open in October. On Oct. 28, an 18th century funeral will be re-enacted, with a replica of a coffin and a deathbed scene. The exhibit included in regular admission of $4, $2 for children. There will be an extra charge for the re-enactment.

Alexandria Heritage Trail

Alexandria Archaeology Museum

105 N. Union St., #327


Explore the archaeology and history of this unique 22-mile urban trail. Visit more than 40 museums and historic parks open to the public to learn the heritage of Native Americans, Colonists, African Americans, Civil War civilians and soldiers and more.

Architectural Adventure

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Pope-Leighey House

9000 Richmond Highway


Built in 1940 of cypress, brick and glass, the “Usonian” house exhibits many of the significant contributions that Wright made to contemporary architecture. Open Tuesday through Sunday March-December, closed January and February. Admission is free for those 5 and under, $3 for those older but not beyond high school graduation and $7.50 for adults.

Find Inspiration

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office


600 Dulaney St.


This museum will be closed until July 14. After this, the exhibit open through at least the end of the year will focus on shoe inventions. Free. After July 14 open weekdays and Saturday afternoons.

Step Back in Time

Alexandria Tours


Step back in time on a walking tour of historic Alexandria. Professional guides tailor a tour for your special interests.

See Where Post-Slave Society Began

Gum Springs Historical Society

8100 Fordson Road


Visit the first community for freed slaves at Gum Springs Historical Society.

The Museum and Cultural Center in Alexandria features an exhibit of photographs nearly 100 years old.

Visit George Washington’s Church

Christ Church

118 N. Washington St.


Construction on the church began in 1767, and visitors can sit in Washington’s seat during services. Docents are on hand daily to welcome visitors and answer questions. It is open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. unless there’s a wedding or a funeral. Contributions suggested.

Visit a Historic Congregation

Old Presbyterian Meeting House

323 S. Fairfax St.


Washington’s funeral took place here. The cemetery includes the grave of John Carlyle and the Unknown Revolutionary Soldier.

Visit a Stone Mansion

Carlyle House

121 N. Fairfax St.


Operated by the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, the Carlyle House is a window into the 18th-century life in Old Town.

Return to Victorian Times

Lee-Fendall House

614 Oronoco St.


From 1785 until 1903 the house served as the home to thirty-seven members of the Lee family. Currently, visitors can observe extensive restorations in progress.

Visit GW’s Fire Station

Friendship Fire House Museum

107 S. Alfred St.


A visit to Friendship Fire House Museum gives a true historical perspective on fire fighting in the colonial era. Open Fridays and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. Free.

A Dose of Early Medicine

Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Shop

105-107 S. Fairfax St.


Visitors can view samples of early medicines. After renovation, the Apothecary is expected to open this summer.