Alexandria History Museum at The Lyceum

Alexandria History Museum at The Lyceum The Lyceum, built in 1839, is a historic site, community history museum, and venue for all sorts of


For Virginia Cider Week we are celebrating the return of the Alexandria Cider Festival! Enjoy a selection of ciders from 10 Virginia cideries. Ticket includes cider tastings, a souvenir glass, live music, and a little history too! Tickets $55 in advance. Online sales end at 10 a.m. on Saturday, November 19. After that, tickets can be purchased at the door for $65. Dress for the weather - the event is outdoors! Festival open 1 to 5 p.m. Proceeds from the Cider Festival will benefit the Historic Alexandria Museums. For tickets:


Today's number: $122,106. This is the amount of donations received to Historic Alexandria for sites + targeted projects. The generosity during this challenging time is heartwarming! While our department does receive City operational funding to support our mission, these resources do not cover the full scope of OHA’s strategic goals + projects. Donations like these help fund educational programs + conserve objects like the Friendship Firehouse Hose-Reel Carriage shown in this photo.


Throughout this year we have been sharing updates about Freedom House as we work to restore + interpret this significant Alexandria + national site, slated to open by April 2022. As you consider your end of the year giving, help us continue telling these important stories. Your donation will help support the building as well as the 3 new exhibits that will not only educate + inspire, but challenge long held assumptions about race + equity in Virginia. Donate today: 


Did you know that December is ? This sweet treat (and butt of many jokes) has a long history, dating back to ancient Rome. In the 19th century, Alexandrians could purchase fruitcakes from a variety of bakeries, including Henry Brengle's shop on King Street. While there, residents could also pick up oysters, apparently a Christmas must-have at the time and pairs perfectly with cake.


For , let's go back to 1749 Alexandria + venture down our main street - Cameron Street!? Well, that didn't quite turn out as the city planners expected. Cameron Street, named for the Baron of Cameron, was meant to be the city's main thoroughfare, but King Street has since taken that crown. This unintentional change was likely because King became more passable than Cameron. Two reasons: First, the head of Oronoco Creek used to make the intersection of Cameron + Pitt Street marshy. Second, Christ Church, built in 1773, essentially cut off travel on Cameron, making King Street the new main east-west route. Today, especially living in the DC area, we can definitely appreciate transportation adventures and misadventures across the centuries! Made By Us


This Saturday, Dec. 11, join us for our virtual Kwanzaa How-to Workshop at 11 a.m.! Learn the origins, concepts, practices, + foods of Kwanzaa as well as the 7 Kwanzaa principles + symbols. Presenters will teach easy crafts, activities plus show a cooking demonstration on how to make Groundnut Stew for your Kwanzaa feast. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions of the presenters at the end of the workshop. To register, visit:


Remember back in September when we showed the new 3D model of 1315 Duke Street in the works? Well it is officially done and ready for installation. We are now able to showcase more accurately what the complex looked like c. 1840.


The World Series may start tomorrow but did you know that baseball has a long history in Alexandria? Photos from the Civil War era show a diamond shaped patch of dirt near what is now the King Street Metro Station that looks suspiciously like a baseball field. Using aerial photographs from 1927, City archaeologists have identified at least 29 early 20th century baseball fields around the Alexandria. They also unearthed this ball of leather straps and cords. Uncovered during excavations of the 300 block of King Street (44AX95), this artifact may be the core of a 19th century baseball. To learn more about Alexandria's baseball history check out


For , let’s dive into the colors at Freedom House. Thanks to the Historic Structures Report, we have documentation for the colors of the site over time - both outside and inside. Architectural conservators analyzed 22 paint samples. They were examined under a zoom microscope and light that simulated daylight to help identify the color-corrected stratigraphy. To highlight one sample, PT-001, it seems the exterior of the building was painted a light reddish brown color during its time as the Franklin and Armfield slave pen. Learn more about the HSR -


Mark your calendar for Oct. 28 at 4 p.m. for a virtual presentation on the Freedom House Historic Structures Report! Presented by our consultant organization SmithGroup, learn more about what they discovered about 1315 Duke Street. This report is an important first step in the site’s renovation and interpretation process. For more information and to register, visit


It is Indigenous Peoples' Day. For thousands of years, people moved through the region, trading and drawing resources from the land and river. Place names like the Potomac River and Dogue Run come from Algonquian languages of this area. Click through from our website to learn more from regional tribes and nations about their past, present, and future:


October is + each week we’ll share a variety of things from City Archivist Jackie Cohan! First - Why are archives important to us as a community? Historic records + documents preserved at the City’s archives connects us to events in our past in such a visceral way: not only are they firsthand evidence of what people thought + did at a particular time, they’re also a revealing snapshot into what was considered important. And holding a 100-year-old document someone touched + created so long ago is just sublime.


Staff is currently in the thick of writing and revising the new exhibit for the Freedom House Museum. Writing an exhibit takes a lot of research AND a lot of editing. Clearly communicating complex issues and key ideas within exhibit word counts is challenging! Fresh eyes, like feedback from outside reviewers, helps the team rework the exhibit script for the better. Not pictured - a large cup of coffee!

Join us Saturday!

Join us Saturday!

Packard Virginia CAR SHOW is an annual event at the Alexandria History Museum at The Lyceum. Come for this free, outdoor event on Saturday, Sep. 25, 2021, 10...


On this , let’s thank John Quincy Adams for his prolific diary writing - a handy reference for historians to learn about the lives of people in the past. In 1841, he wrote about lecturing at Lyceum Hall (now the Alexandria History Museum at The Lyceum), “We took tea at Benjamin Hallowell’s – then at half past seven we went to the Lyceum where I delivered my Lecture on Society and Civilization to a crowded auditory after which there was a debate on the question of whether phrenology is a Science useful to the community.” Read more about his day:


Today we celebrate with DC native Opera singer Ben Holt. Performing in the 1980s, The Washington Post described Holt as “a name and voice to remember” and highlighted how he celebrated his African American heritage in song. During a performance at the Terrace Theater - marked by a five minute standing ovation - Holt sang a mixture of spirituals, German opera, + selections from Anthony Davis' Malcolm X opera. Thanks to the devotion of his mom (and Alexandria Black History Museum volunteer), Mayme Holt, Ben’s legacy lives on in his collection at the museum. It will be cataloged + scanned so it will be accessible through Historic Alexandria’s online collections website. Learn more:

This digitization project is partially funded by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.


Next up for , we showcase a unique feature found at Gadsby's Tavern Museum - the musician's gallery. Often seen in country homes in Europe, this feature provides for the best ballroom experience. Musicians were able to perform above while dancers could dance below without fear of "turning off the music" - running into musician!


Today is the 20th anniversary of the attacks on September 11, 2001. On this solemn day, Historic Alexandria reflects on that day with community mementos originally created for a short time use, or “ephemera.” Alexandria came together as a community that Tuesday morning and in the days after the attacks, from responding to the Pentagon attack without hesitation, to fundraising for disaster relief, to providing a simple thank you to first responders. We honor those who lost their lives on 9/11.


The first-floor exhibit at Freedom House will include a new 3D model of what the complex likely looked like in c.1840. This scale model is based on the most recent research on the site. The artist starts with measured architectural drawings of the property which are then loaded into a computer and laser cut into flat pieces. The artist uses photographs to help determine details such as doors and window lintels. The tricky part comes after the pieces are cut - getting the brick lines to line up. With such a large complex, this is no easy feat!


Come see an early fire engine at Friendship Firehouse Museum on September 11 from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Suction engines drew water through a hose + provided a powerful + constant stream to fight fires. In 1851, Friendship’s members purchased this suction engine from John Rogers in Baltimore. With over a dozen men pumping the handles (called “brakes”), it threw water 155 feet! Purchase tickets in advance at for a discount for parties of two or more – advance tickets are only $2 for parties of up to ten. Free for Alexandria residents!


Celebrate by lifting a glass in Robert Portner's honor. Portner was a successful brewer in Alexandria before Prohibition. This ad from April 1912 touts the medical benefits of their Hofbrau beer. It is superior to tea and coffee and supposedly aids in digestion. Who knew beer was a health food?


Happy ! There were several variations of this popular sport in the 19th century, including skittles, ten-pin, nine-pin, + duckpin bowling. Some jurisdictions placed restrictions on bowling, some logical + some less so. An 1846 Alexandria ordinance instituted license fees for for-profit bowling alleys + shuffle board establishments. To be granted a license, the applicant needed to be a white, male citizen over 21 plus had to seek the consent of those owning property around the alley. Additionally, alleys were required to close at 10 p.m., provide "ample sandbags, or other means, of stopping the balls at the end of the alleys," + not allow betting.


September is ! When the Hungarian Singers performed in 1840 at Lyceum Hall (now the Alexandria History Museum at The Lyceum), they combined popular + folk songs with classical pieces by Johann Strauss I plus opera composers Gioachino Rossini + Vincenzo Bellini. Rossini + Bellini were featured often at Lyceum Hall concerts in the 1840s, often performed by local musicians such as the St. Mary’s Choir, Alexandria’s Amateur Musical Club, + bands/choirs organized by local music teacher Signor Garcia.


On August 21, 1939, five young African American men sat down to read at the Alexandria Library on Queen Street after being refused a library card. Civil Rights attorney Samuel Tucker had coached them on how to comport themselves + was their legal defense when they were later charged with disorderly conduct. When the small new segregated facility, Robert Robinson Library, opened the following year, Tucker refused the invitation of a library card. The goal of integrating the library on Queen Street would take another 20 years. Learn more about Tucker and the sit-in:


August is Black Business Owner Month! We are excited to highlight a variety of African American owned enterprises in Alexandria through the years. First are Cora + James Holmes. Cora Holmes, a confectioner, ran a grocery store at 533 S. Columbus St. during the late 1800s/early 1900s. Her son, John T. Holmes + his family later ran a tourist home at 803 Gibbon Street that was listed in the Green Book between 1938-1960. After John's death in 1945, his widow Arsenius + daughter Ruth, who worked as a teacher, continued to operate the establishment. Running tourist homes allowed families to supplement their income + provided traveling African Americans with a safe place to stay in a segregated landscape. Learn more about the Green Book here


One drink you could see at a tavern or at home in the 18th century was rum punch. Punch is derived from the Hindi word for five. Five ingredients are needed to make rum punch - sugar, water, spices, citrus, + of course rum. Thanks to archaeology done at Gadsby's Tavern Museum, we know what the tavern's bowl would look like. So as you think of the specialized glasses we have for our drinks today, consider this early fancy cocktail vessel from Gadsby's.


What is going on over at the Murray-Dick-Fawcett House? Important renovations! Overseen by Oak Grove Restoration, work includes chimney repointing, dormer window renewal, plus a historically accurate replacement of the wood shingle roof. During these renovations, the garden will be closed.


The team busily working on the first floor exhibit at the Freedom House Museum has recently acquired several historic images from newspapers and other periodicals. Images are an important part of all exhibits because they provide vivid visual representations of the stories being told. These historic documents will help illustrate the history of 1315 Duke Street.


Come on by tomorrow, Saturday, August 7th from 9am to 2pm for the festivities! The museum will be open for timed tours, the Fire Department will have some of its equipment there for kids to explore! Live music and vendors!


This weekend, we remember Benjamin Thomas – a 16 year old African American Alexandrian who was lynched at the corner of King + S. Fairfax Streets on August 8, 1899. Please join the Alexandria Community Remembrance Project August 8th at 7 p.m. on Market Square in honoring Thomas + the 15 members of the African American community who tried to prevent the lynching. For more information, visit


Can't make it to the Friendship Firehouse Festival this Sat, Aug. 7? Celebrate Friendship Firehouse's 247th birthday all month with a free Family Summer Fun Kit! The pickup kit includes a plastic Friendship fire helmet, instructions, plus coloring and activity pages. Recommended for families with children ages 4-8. *While supplies last*, pick up the kit beginning Aug. 12 at the Alexandria History Museum at The Lyceum (Thurs + Fri 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. + Sat 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.).


One of our summer interns is tracking down historical documents to create detailed biographies of signers of the 1831 James Evans’ petition. Andrew Bell was one of several Black men who volunteered to help rebuild Fort Washington after the Royal Navy left during the War of 1812. Thousands of enslaved African Americans in the Chesapeake allied themselves with the British to gain freedom, while many free Blacks hoped supporting the American cause would bring them closer to equality. When Bell signed Evans’ 1831 petition espousing loyalty to Alexandria, he may have been motivated by the same desire to improve, or at least protect, his standing in a white-dominated society. Learn about the petition here:


The Friendship Firehouse Festival is back August 7! Join us on the 100 block of South Alfred Street from 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. Come visit the historic Friendship Firehouse Museum, learn about fire safety, + see City firefighting equipment up close. There will be displays by community organizations, craft vendors, + food and beverages available. Plus children receive free Friendship fire hats! For more info:


This summer, one of our interns is helping create a historic interpretive marker for 506 North Overlook Drive. Hampshire Fractious, an African American plasterer, built this house in 1878. He and his family would go on to live in the home for 10 years. Fractious’ ability to build this property is one example of the varied Black experience in post-Civil War Alexandria. Interpretive markers are an important part of the preservation process in the city and this one will commemorate Fractious' life and achievements. 506 North Overlook Drive in 1916 is circled on the right side of this photo.

Learn more at:


For , we take you back over 200 years. The Virginia Journal & Alexandria Advertiser reported on Sept. 2, 1790 that a lottery was authorized, "for raising the sum of $5,000 to be applied to paving certain streets in the town of Alexandria." Lotteries like this one were common in early America to raise funds for municipal projects, rather than using taxes. Early dirt roads could be treacherous + drainage issues meant an increased risk of disease. By the end of 1795, several blocks of King, Fairfax, Lee, Prince, Royal, + Union streets were paved with cobblestone. Not only was the first paving effort centered in the town's commercial area, it also happened to be home to some of the wealthiest residents.


Research continues at Freedom House. Our team is using a variety of primary source documents - from census records to court cases - to piece together the stories of those trafficked through this building. One example is Burdett Washington. His struggle to free and reunite his family comes to light in ship manifests, newspapers, and manumission records. Learn more about his story:


Beat the heat and venture down to the Friendship Firehouse Museum between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. on July 17! Check out early fire fighting equipment including fire buckets and an elaborately decorated suction engine that helped put an end to the labor-intensive bucket brigades of the past. Purchase tickets in advance at for a discount for parties of two or more – advance tickets are only $2 for parties of up to ten. Free for Alexandria residents!


201 S Washington Street
Alexandria, VA

Opening Hours

Monday 10am - 5pm
Tuesday 10am - 5pm
Wednesday 10am - 5pm
Thursday 10am - 5pm
Friday 10am - 5pm
Saturday 10am - 5pm
Sunday 1pm - 5pm


(703) 746-4994


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Nearby museums


The National Capital Tartan Day Reception is now at the historic Alexandria History Museum at The Lyceum in Old Town Alexandria Tuesday night April 5th at 7pm
One week from today, Tuesday night April 5th at 7pm, the return of the National Tartan Day reception which has been moved from Capitol Hill to the historic Lyceum in Old Town Alexandria VA. Details & tickets are here:

Featuring the St Andrew's Society Color Guard,
members of the City of Alexandria Pipes and Drums, a Whisky tasting, Representatives of the UK and Scottish governments, Congressman Don Beyer, and much more! Tickets via PayPal in advance only at
: The Alexandria History Museum at The Lyceum, founded in 1838, was built with a vision to provide a grand place for lectures, scientific experiments and quiet reading.

Since construction, The Lyceum has operated as a Civil War hospital, a private home, an office building and the nation's first Bicentennial Visit's Center. In 1985, The Lyceum became Alexandria's History Museum, providing exhibitions, school programs, lectures, concerts, volunteer opportunities and public space for the community.

Historic Alexandria, VA Visit Alexandria VA


Daniel Frazelle has two upcoming events:

Alexandria Symphony Orchestra Winter Recital
December 8th, 7pm at Alexandria History Museum at The Lyceum. He will play some Poulenc, Milhaud, and other

Arlington Philharmonic December 12th, 4pm at Washington Liberty High School in Arlington, VA (Arlington Public Schools). He is playing 2nd and bass (last served by ) for their first indoor concert in over a year. Program includes Reed’s Russian Christmas Music (for orchestra!), Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 1 and the Nutcracker Suite.

A native of Alexandria, Virginia, Daniel Frazelle has performed in recent seasons with the Alexandria, Richmond and Williamsburg symphonies. He is currently the Assistant Principal Clarinet of the United States Navy Band in Washington, D.C. and the bass clarinetist and director of the Navy Band Clarinet Quartet.

'JAZZ & JOKES' - Fan Favorite Common Ground Jazz brings a tasteful blend of Jazz, R&B, and Soul for the most discriminating music lover, from old standards rearranged for the contemporary listener and recent urban style hits remade with a jazzy feel. Comedian Dewayne White, of Clean Comedy Connection, draws much of his humor from his unique take on his military experience and general family life craziness. Don't miss this unique blend of Jazz & Jokes at the Alexandria History Museum at The Lyceum.

SHOWTIMES: Friday, Dec. 31 at 7:00PM & 9:30PM | The Lyceum (201 S Washington)

Doors open 15 minutes prior to each show.

Grab your poodle skirt + leather jackets to venture down to the Alexandria History Museum at The Lyceum for a classic car show on Sept. 25. It will feature a variety of Packards and other “orphan” vehicles, a term for cars that are no longer manufactured. Some of the cars that will be featured at this year’s show will be a 1955 MG ZA Magnette, a 1934 Hudson Terraplane, a 1937 Packard 120C, and a 1967 Pontiac GTO. The show is free, will be held from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m., and is co-sponsored by Packards Virginia.
Fall for the art scene in Alexandria this September. There are plenty of art exhibits this month to keep you happily surrounded by art!
Athenaeum Torpedo Factory Art Center The Art League Del Ray Artisans Alexandria History Museum at The Lyceum
September is ! When the Hungarian Singers performed in 1840 at Lyceum Hall (now the Alexandria History Museum at The Lyceum), they combined popular + folk songs with classical pieces by Johann Strauss I plus opera composers Gioachino Rossini + Vincenzo Bellini. Rossini + Bellini were featured often at Lyceum Hall concerts in the 1840s, often performed by local musicians such as the St. Mary’s Choir, Alexandria’s Amateur Musical Club, + bands/choirs organized by local music teacher Signor Garcia.
The Charles T. Kirk Fife Drum and Bugle Corps, organized in 1899 in Brooklyn, NY, dominated the competitive drum corps scene of the early 20th century. Enjoy this performance of their piece "Old English and Yankee Doodle," recorded at the Alexandria History Museum at The Lyceum!
This summer, don't miss "Witnessing Worship: A Photographic Study of Faith in Alexandria" now on view at the Alexandria History Museum at The Lyceum. In 1985, photographer Nina Tisara documented fifty worship groups throughout the city and this exhibit features 106 black-and-white images of her work. The exhibit also explores how photography changed through the 20th century and how it documents our past for historians. Check out highlights of the exhibit in this video!
Happy 109th birthday Girl Scouts (on March 12)! Celebrate the beginning of Girl Scouting in the U.S. and Women’s History Month with a digital relaunch of a 2009 gallery exhibition from the Alexandria History Museum at The Lyceum: “Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts.” Learn about the city’s first Girl Scout troops and how Girl Scouting supported Alexandria’s girls during their formative years. Were you a Girl Scout? What is your favorite memory? Please share it in the comments. To view the exhibit + print out some fun coloring pages, visit:
Some of's historic museums will open at the end of this month. Read more below. Historic Alexandria, VA Gadsby's Tavern Museum Friendship Fire Company Alexandria History Museum at The Lyceum

As we begin the annual observance of Black History Month, we look forward to sharing clips and info highlighting African-American composers.

William Grant Still, often referred to as "the Dean" of African-American composers, was born in Mississippi and studied composition with George Whitfield Chadwick and Edgard Varèse. He was the first African-American composer to conduct a major symphony orchestra, the first to have his symphony performed by a leading orchestra, and the first to have an opera performed on national television.

While he is best known for his First Symphony, the "Afro-American" Symphony, Still composed 150 pieces of many different genres. Here, enjoy an excerpt of a performance from a couple years ago at the Alexandria History Museum at The Lyceum, where Senior Master Sgt. Cleveland Chandler performed William Grant Still's Suite for Violin and Piano.