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 public and private events in Alexandria, Virginia.
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Operating as usual

05/12/2021

Explore the architecture and history of Alexandria for Preservation Month! From Carlyle House, Old Town North, and Lee-Fendall House, join masked and socially-distanced walking tours that tell the story of the waterfront, the enslaved of Alexandria, and restoration secrets of some of your favorite historic sites. Learn more: https://www.alexandriava.gov/121908 #PreservationMonth

05/10/2021

Hayti. Colored Rosemont. Uptown. Recognize these names? They are 3 African American neighborhoods being highlighted in the Out of the Attic series for Preservation Month. Find out each week how they formed and survived before the Civil War, and in its aftermath. Learn more about these historically vibrant communities: https://www.alexandriava.gov/87013 #PreservationMonth #HistoricALX2U

05/06/2021

To honor #NationalNursesDay, we spotlight an exceptional nurse who worked in Alexandria during the Civil War - Jane Stuart Woolsey. She served as superintendent of Fairfax Seminary Hospital (on the grounds of the present-day Virginia Theological Seminary). Under her leadership, it was one of the city’s best-run Union army hospitals + included her health-care innovations. Sick soldiers were prepared special diets at her direction based on their ailments - hot cakes + molasses candy for stomach issues; flour porridges, + peppermint tea for intestinal cases. Her memoir, "Hospital Days," is a compelling glimpse into the daily lives + dedication of Civil War nurses. To learn more about Alexandria's Civil War nurses + hospitals: https://www.alexandriava.gov/70778 To read Jane’s memoir: https://r1ik7wbm6.web.app/Hospital-Days.html #HistoricALX2U

05/05/2021

May is Historic Preservation Month! This year, Historic Alexandria and its partners are focusing on Equity in Preservation. We invite you to a variety of lectures, a special panel on the topic, as well masked and socially-distanced walking tours of Alexandria's historic buildings. Each week we will also highlight a preservation story right here! Learn more about all the offerings this month: https://www.alexandriava.gov/121908 #HistoricALX2U #PreservationMonth

Timeline Photos
05/02/2021

Timeline Photos

The spotlight is on Kentucky today, but did you know Alexandria had its own Jockey Club? They often met at the City Tavern (now Gadsby’s Tavern). Horse racing was an entertainment in the 18th century, but these meetings were about business. Horse racing was a money-making venture for upper class men. Prominent members of the Club included John Carlyle, who brought horses bred for racing from England as early as 1762, + George Washington, known for his excellent horsemanship. The original racetrack was north of the city (now the Potomac Yard area) until the Club built their own building and racetrack on what is now the 800 block of Franklin Street. #HistoricALX2U #KYDerby

04/29/2021

A big thank you to all who supported #Spring2ACTion yesterday. Because of your generosity, we were able to raise 🚨$16,925🚨 for the new exhibitions at the Freedom House Museum! This work helps us understand & reckon with our past as we work towards social equity and building a better Alexandria for all. We look forward to sharing updates here over the upcoming months!

Timeline Photos
04/29/2021

Timeline Photos

Good Evening Night Owls! One more hour left in #Spring2ACTion! Take us to the finish line, supporting this critically important project. Freedom House Museum shares the stories of the enslaved and newly freed, an important first step towards reckoning with Alexandria's involvement in the domestic slave trade. By understanding our past, we can work towards social equity and build a better Alexandria for all. Join us: https://www.spring2action.org/organizations/freedomhouse

Timeline Photos
04/28/2021

Timeline Photos

The upper floors of Freedom House will offer rotating exhibits on the broader Alexandria African American community. First up is a traveling exhibit from Virginia Museum of History & Culture based on “Determined: The 400-Year Struggle for Black Equality." This exhibit examines the ways in which the arrival of enslaved Africans in 1619 shaped the United States that we know today. Alongside it will be our Alexandria stories of determination. Join us: https://www.spring2action.org/organizations/freedomhouse

Timeline Photos
04/28/2021

Timeline Photos

One important aspect of the new 1st floor exhibit centers the lives of those trafficked through this building. One is Michael Shiner. Born enslaved + later manumitted, he recounted the sale of his family members to Franklin and Armfield in his personal diary. In the summer 1833, he wrote “...my Wife and Childdren wher snacht away from me and sold.” Shiner ultimately secured their release through his perseverance + with the help of powerful connections. Michael's story is rare + the reuniting of families separated through the domestic slave trade was not common. Join us: https://www.spring2action.org/organizations/freedomhouse

#Spring2ACTion https://www.spring2action.org/organizations/freedomhouse
04/28/2021

#Spring2ACTion https://www.spring2action.org/organizations/freedomhouse

Good Morning - it's #Spring2ACTion! Over the next 24 hours, we’ll be sharing about new exhibits, community support for this museum, and new research from our staff. These new exhibits center the lives of the enslaved and newly freed, an important first step towards reckoning with Alexandria's involvement in the domestic slave trade. By understanding our past, we can work towards social equity and build a better Alexandria for all. Join us: https://www.spring2action.org/organizations/freedomhouse

Why Freedom House is worth preserving #Spring2ACTion.
04/28/2021
Why Freedom House Museum is worth preserving...

Why Freedom House is worth preserving #Spring2ACTion.

TO DONATE:Spring2ACTion.org/organizations/FreedomHouseThe staff of the Historic Alexandria Museums is raising money to support the preservation and interpret...

#Spring2ACTion
04/28/2021

#Spring2ACTion

Good Morning - it's #Spring2ACTion! Over the next 24 hours, we’ll be sharing about new exhibits, community support for this museum, and new research from our staff. These new exhibits center the lives of the enslaved and newly freed, an important first step towards reckoning with Alexandria's involvement in the domestic slave trade. By understanding our past, we can work towards social equity and build a better Alexandria for all. Join us: https://www.spring2action.org/organizations/freedomhouse

04/27/2021

ONE DAY MORE! #Spring2ACTion will help Historic Alexandria raise funds to share the history of both 1315 Duke Street and that of Alexandria's broader Black community. The new First Floor exhibit focuses on the site itself and will incorporate recent research, refocus the narrative on the lives of the enslaved, and examine how the site transformed from a place of horror to one of social justice. By understanding our past, we can work towards social equity and build a better Alexandria for all. Join us: https://www.spring2action.org/organizations/freedomhouse

Photos from Historic Alexandria, VA's post
04/23/2021

Photos from Historic Alexandria, VA's post

04/13/2021

While we know that Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine must be shipped at -4 Fahrenheit and Pfizer’s at an incredible -94 Fahrenheit, Gadsby’s ice well was as close to freezing as you could get in Alexandria in the 18th century. The ice well was one of the largest commercial ice wells in the city. It guaranteed that tavern patrons could enjoy chilled beverages, ice cream, and other delicacies. For the most up-to-date information on the City’s vaccination efforts and to pre-register, visit: https://www.alexandriava.gov/Vaccines #HistoricALX2U #Vax2Normal

04/13/2021

The history of Parker-Gray School (1920 to 1979) owes much to the hard work and dedication of its principals, teachers, students, parents, + the community. The school’s existence was the result of petitioning by the African American community from 1915-1918. Underfunded from the beginning, it was again the community who raised funds for equipment such as a stage curtain, auditorium chairs, reference books, + materials for the home economics room. Explore photographs from the Parker-Gray Collection online and help us identify the people and events in each picture! Learn more: https://www.alexandriava.gov/115485 #HistoricALX2U

04/09/2021

Miss one of our engaging, thought-provoking, live virtual lectures? You are in luck! Most can be found on our Lectures webpage or our YouTube channel. Cartography to Housing, Author Talks to African American History - there is something for everyone! Visit: https://www.alexandriava.gov/118340 #HistoricALX2U

04/08/2021

Robert Portner Brewing Company knew that clean water, + a lot of it, was necessary for making their tasty beer. Brewing required water for boiling, steam power, cooling, for the beer itself, + for the horses that delivered their product. The city’s water supply, cisterns, + existing wells were no match for this need. The company dug its first artesian well in 1879, + by 1902 there were at least 7, some reaching the depth of around 400ft. In an ad published in the Alexandria Gazette this week in 1906, Portner’s used its clean water to claim that their beer was “a pure liquid food.” This was likely a ploy to stave off low sales due to the enactment of the Pure Food and Drug Act of the same year. Celebrate #NationalBeerDay by learning more athttps://www.alexandriava.gov/uploadedFiles/historic/info/archaeology/SiteReportDenneePortnerBreweryHistoryAX196.pdf #HistoricALX2U

04/07/2021

Each Monday of April, Historic Alexandria will highlight stories related to education + the African American community. We begin in 1861. The first freely accessible schools for African Americans in Alexandria were established as soon as Union forces secured the city. African American women like Mary Chase, Jane Crouch, + Anna Bell Davis were already teaching in secret, but could now do so openly. Sarah A. Gray also opened a school in 1861 + continued to teach until shortly before her death in 1893. Much of the initial funding came from the Black community, but by 1862, Northern missionary societies + new secular freedmen’s aid societies were assisting with salaries + materials. In 1865, the Freedman’s Bureau helped acquire school buildings, but they were not allowed to finance teacher salaries or classroom supplies. To learn more about Alexandria’s African American Community, visit: www.alexandriava.gov/37214 #HistoricALX2U (Update: correct spelling of panel artist - Joanna Blake)

04/06/2021

Not to put too fine a point on it (pun intended), but syringes of the 19th century were a far cry from the relatively painless pokes we get these days for vaccines. This all-metal clyster syringe was excavated from a well (Feature E) associated with an 1830s doctor’s office located on the City Hall Market Block (44AX94). Clyster syringes did not use a needle - medicines were injected directly into a wound or open area - and were used for a variety of purposes. They also had a critical design flaw - one could not see how much dose was being dispensed. It is fair to say Alexandria residents are grateful for modern medicine + the technological advances that we now have. For the most up-to-date information on the City’s vaccination efforts and to pre-register, visit: https://www.alexandriava.gov/Vaccines #HistoricALX2U #Vax2Normal

03/26/2021

Today is the United Nations International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. For our last spotlight on Alexandria women, we share the story of Mary & Emily Edmonson. Daughters of a free Black man and enslaved woman from Maryland, the teens made the decision to escape enslavement on the schooner Pearl in April 1848. They were captured, along with all 75 others on board, and held at Joseph Bruin’s slave jail on the 1700 block of Duke Street to await transport to the New Orleans slave market. Free relatives and abolitionists - including Rev. Henry Ward Beecher - worked to purchase and free Mary and Emily. Ultimately, they were freed, attended school, and Emily became an important member of the Anacostia community until her death in 1895. To learn more:https://www.alexandriava.gov/uploadedFiles/historic/info/archaeology/TrailSignEdmonsonSisters.pdf #HistoricALX2U

03/19/2021

Shirley Lee taught many fellow Alexandrians to swim at the local Johnson Memorial Pool. While lifeguarding in Washington, D.C., she discovered scuba diving and became the world’s first certified African American female scuba diver. Diving in diverse and exotic locations, she also explored the Henrietta Marie slave ship off the Florida coast. A founding member of the National Association of Black Scuba Divers (NABS), she was the first female in the Underwater Adventure Seekers, also receiving PADI’s 1,000 Olives pin for logging more than 1000 dives! #HistoricALX2U

03/17/2021

Did you know Historic Alexandria is partnering with 100 organizations nationwide with a program called Made By Us? Made By Us presents history in relevant, timely ways, with and for today's young adults, for informed civic participation. Give them a follow and be prepared to learn lots about lots!

Alexandria Community Remembrance Project: Public Programs, Committees, Community Meetings
03/16/2021
Alexandria Community Remembrance Project: Public Programs, Committees, Community Meetings

Alexandria Community Remembrance Project: Public Programs, Committees, Community Meetings

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama includes over 800 steel monuments, one for each county in the United States where a racial terror lynching took place. Their Community Remembrance Project invites jurisdictions to claim and install a copy of their monument. The City....

Timeline Photos
03/14/2021

Timeline Photos

#OTD in 1801, Alexandria residents hosted President Thomas Jefferson for his inaugural dinner in the stunning ballroom at John Gadsby’s City Hotel. Apparently Gadsby and his enslaved staff had to pull together this dinner on short notice. The first inauguration to be celebrated in Washington, DC, Jefferson's dinner included a whopping sixteen toasts, including the new President’s toast - “Prosperity to the town of Alexandria.” Learn more about this event: https://www.alexandriava.gov/uploadedFiles/historic/info/attic/2018/Attic20180118Jefferson.pdf #HistoricALX2U

03/14/2021

We are excited to announce that select Historic Alexandria sites will reopen starting late March. Alexandria Archaeology Museum, Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, and the Alexandria History Museum at The Lyceum will be open 3 days a week, plus Friendship Firehouse once a month! For detailed times for each site, as well as safety protocols for guests, visit: https://www.alexandriava.gov/Historic

Sea Shanties are having a *moment* these past few months. Historic Alexandria presents our own silly sea shanty about Al...
03/13/2021
Sea Shanty for Alexandria, VA

Sea Shanties are having a *moment* these past few months. Historic Alexandria presents our own silly sea shanty about Alexandria’s history. A common part of seafaring life, most sea shanties were a flexible combination of standard verses whose repetition helped exhausted sailors accomplish their tasks. Our shanty is based on “Blow the Man Down,” first documented when the “Syracuse Daily Courier” quoted a lyric from the song in July 1867. #HistoricALX2U

Presenting our own silly sea shanty about Alexandria’s rich history. Sea shanties were a common part of seafaring life. The unaccompanied, rhythmic lyrics we...

03/03/2021

You may be wondering what is happening at Freedom House Museum - it has been closed for renovations! Expanded first floor gallery space, a repaired elevator for accessibility, and updated accessible bathrooms are just a few of the things in the works inside 1315 Duke Street. Staff has also been doing new research and we are excited that a Historic Structures Report has officially begun! The project has been awarded to SmithGroup and will document the physical site as well as provide advice on how best to preserve the building for the future. #HistoricALX2U

03/02/2021

Today is #NationalPigDay! Many taverns during the 18th century hosted a very special entertainer - one of the swine variety. Toby the Learned Pig and animals like him wowed guests with their ability to do math, spell, and read minds. Learn more about the sapient swine at Gadsby's Tavern Museum+ online:https://www.alexandriava.gov/uploadedFiles/historic/info/gadsbys/AssemblyRoomLearnedPig.pdf #HistoricALX2U

Address

201 S Washington St
Alexandria, VA
22314

Opening Hours

Monday 10:00 - 17:00
Tuesday 10:00 - 17:00
Wednesday 10:00 - 17:00
Thursday 10:00 - 17:00
Friday 10:00 - 17:00
Saturday 10:00 - 17:00
Sunday 13:00 - 17:00

Telephone

(703) 746-4994

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I what building(s) did the Restored Government of Virginia meeti in Alexandria during the Civil War? Thanks.
If you create an event for the Jan. 21 talk then we will advertize it on our page to our members.
“Transforming the Lee Boyhood Home in Alexandria, Virginia into the Headquarters of an Interpretive Center and Urban Walking Trails on the Civil War” Various media sites reported at the end of March that the boyhood home of Robert E. Lee, at 614 Orinoco Street, in Alexandria, Virginia, is being sold by its private owners. The sale of the historic home of the Civil War general, educator, and pre-war head of West Point presents a unique opportunity to make Old Town Alexandria an even greater center of American history than it already is, as the hometown of George Washington, the Lees, and many other important figures and events in U.S. history. We propose, and ask interested parties to support, the purchase of the Lee Home, and transforming it into the headquarters of a city, state, and/or federally designated Interpretive Center, along with Urban Walking Trails, on the Civil War. Such a headquarters, visitors center and related trails would be a perfect complement to, and spur to, the expansion of Old Town Alexandria’s already rich array of events, locales, and personalities relating to America’s greatest saga, the Civil War, which speaks to the proud heritage of all Americans. The Lee Home was in the past a museum, and is time to return it to its traditional, historic status. The abode was the boyhood home of Robert Edward Lee, the former superintendant of the Federal Army’s West Point military academy, and important staff officer during the Mexican-American War, then the Confederate commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, and after the war the President of what became Washington and Lee University, in Lexington, VA. Across the street from the well-maintained private residence and grounds is the Lee-Fendall House, built by businessman Philip Kendall, a Lee relation. During the Civil War the Union Army, after taking control of the town, turned the house into a hospital, where surgeons performed the first successful blood transfusion. (And outside of which a later owner, United Mine Workers leader John L. Lewis, was burned in effigy during World War II for staging labor strikes during that conflict.) Walking trails, along the lines of the self-guided Cultural Tourism walks in Washington, D.C., or Boston’s Freedom Trails, could be readily & fairly inexpensively constructed throughout Old Town. They would complement the historic markers the city has recently placed in Old Town, as well as the famed series of markers the state of Virginia has placed throughout the Commonwealth. There could be a multitude of trails, on different aspects of the war, such the Union Army, Confederate spies, African-American institutions, war-time medicine, and many other themes. The trails would be made up of attractive posters showing the trail map, explanatory text, and illustrations. Along with fostering interest in Alexandria’s history and scholarship on the war, the Center and trails would be a boon to the city’s economy by bolstering its growing tourism industry. -------------------- A brief outline of the historic places just on a major Old Town thoroughfare, Washington Street, just yards west of the Lee and Lee-Fendall homes, shows what a unique opportunity the area presents for exploring the Civil War. On the west side of Washington Street is the historic home of Edmund Lee, a backer of the American Colonization Society for free “men and women of color”, which led to the establishment of the African nation of Liberia. (Liberia’s capital city is Monrovia, named for one of the antebellum Presidents, James Monroe, who held inaugural festivities at Old Town’s Gadsby’s Tavern.) Within a block to the north is a vast, 1840s-era cotton mill (now condominiums), the perfect symbol of the antebellum South’s economy. Several blocks south on Washington St. is the stately Lloyd House. It became a schoolhouse for noted Quaker educator Benjamin Hallowell; one of his math students was the young Robert E. Lee, who went on to study engineering at West Point. Another prominent Alexandria Quaker family were the Janneys. John Janney ran the two state assemblies whereby Virginia decided against, and then for, seceding from the Union. (John Janney’s home is three blocks away.) Around the corner is the Kate Waller Barrett Library, where in 1939 a group of African-American men staged one of the first sit-down protests against “separate but equal” segregationism. Not far from where Mary Custis Lee--the elderly daughter of Robert E. Lee--had a similar, personal protest, in 1902, on one of the segregated trolley cars of the time. (The home of town heroine Kate Waller Barrett, who grew up on a post-bellum plantation and dedicated her life to public service, is several blocks to the southeast.) A block further south is the magnificent English country-style edifice, Christ Church, by the architect James Wren, designer of the eponymous church in Falls Church, Virginia, and descendent of Christopher Wren, architect of London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral. Confederate soldiers who died in the city’s many war-time hospitals are buried in mounds by the Church entrance. In the Church itself is a commemoration of its most prominent member, Washington, who freed and educated all his slaves based in part on his experiences with black soldiers in the American Revolution. Robert E. Lee contributed a substantial sum of money to the Church. Across the street and a block north you’ll find a house of the Society of Odd Fellows, a fraternal order of black and other professionals formed after the conflict. One of whose members was the black architect George Seaton, whose mother was a servant of Martha Washington, who endowed a school on the site. Seaton served on the jury that presided over the trial of former Confederate President Jefferson Davis. (Seaton’s own home is located a half a dozen blocks away.) Two blocks further south on Washington St. is the Appomattox statue, with its Confederate soldier meditating on the war and the surrender at Appomattox Courthouse by General Lee to General Ulysses S Grant. The bronze figure was sculpted by Czech immigrant Caspar Buberle, who created as well the elegant frieze of Union Army soldiers on the old Pension Building for Union Army veterans, in Washington, D.C., now the National Building Museum. Buberle was selected for that task by Union Army General Montgomery Miegs, designer of Arlington National Cemetery, originally laid out on the grounds of Lee’s Arlington House during the war. The Appomattox statue was unveiled in 1889 by Virginia Governor Fitzhugh Lee, nephew of Robert E. Lee, and a former Confederate general, as well as a future Federal Army general of the Spanish-American War. This intersection at Washington St. and Duke St. is primed with poignant reminders of many facets of the Civil War. Next to the statue is the Lyceum, Alexandria’s history museum, and a speakers hall that featured such ante-bellum luminaries as John Quincy Adams, the President and congressman responsible for the successful Supreme Court defense of the escaped slaves from the Amistad ship. Half a block north is the attractive façade of the United Methodist Church which, reflecting the nation’s divisions, split into North and South denominations in the run-up to the War Between the States. Occupied as a stable by the Union Army, the federal government later paid the Church restitution. One block further south is the Beulah Baptist Church, one of the town’s initial African-American places of worship, and one of its first black schools, noted for the education of the free men and women fleeing, or emancipated from, slavery. Prominent African-American leaders such as Booker T. Washington and Frederick Douglass visited it and other, extant black churches a few blocks to the south and west. Up the street from the Beulah Church is the Downtown Baptist Church, turned into a hospital where Alexandrian women were blocked by Union soldiers from bringing linen and food to wounded Confederate soldiers treated inside by Union doctors. Another block south of it is the Alexandria Academy, founded by George Washington as a free public school, for boys and girls, at the same time he endowed what became Washington and Lee University and George Washington University. Before the Civil War, children of James Madison and Lighthorse Harry Lee, the latter Washington’s cavalry commander and Robert E. Lee’s father, were educated there, as were groups of black children. During the Civil War, the Academy became a school and a hospital for freedmen. The amazingly rich Civil War heritage of Alexandria isn’t limited to Washington St. of course. Old Town and its environs boast scores of other sites. The heritage trails would connect all the sites, but in a compact area only several miles across. Several of the most prominent locales are: • The Carlyle Mansion, home to the Green family and a Union Army hospital that was the real-life locale of the “Mercy Street” PBS television series • The Marshall House hotel, now the site of the Alexandrian Hotel, where Union Colonel Elmer Ellsworth and pro-Southern hotel owner John W. Jackson killed each other in a firefight, over a Confederate flag that Jackson had unfurled at his hotel, thus becoming among the first fatalities of the war. • The unique “Bank of the Two States”, a grand merchant bank that hosted the twin, war-time governments of Union Virginia, as opposed to the Confederate state of Virginia, as well as the breakaway state of West Virginia. Confederate General John Mosby, later a U.S. ambassador in the Far East for President Grant, conducted secret war-time surveillance of the place. • The former publishing house of the Alexandria Gazette newspaper, burned by Union troops after its editorials backed the refusal of the reverend of a nearby church, designed by architect of the U.S. Capitol Benjamin Latrobe, to endorse “either President”, Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis, in his sermons. The fire-blackened walls are still visible, as is the fire house, across the street (now a private home), whose firemen attempted to douse the blaze. -------------------- This notion for an interpretative visitors center and walking trails on Alexandria’s large role in the Civil War is a preliminary one. It is hoped this document will spur discussion and generate interest in this fascinating and educational topic. The next step may be to establish a group to attract interested parties and funds for the purchase of the Lee Home, and to begin planning its transformation into a Civil War museum and interpretative center, as well as the construction of themed walking trails in Old Town. If you or your organization is intrigued by this exciting, once-in-a century project of living history, kindly respond with interest and ideas. Together, we could transform Alexandria into one of the prime places in America--along with Gettysburg, Richmond, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.--on the exploration of the Civil War, America’s most enthralling saga! Respectfully yours, Edward P. Moser Historian, author, professional tour guide Alexandria, VA [email protected] (https://www.meetup.com/Lafayette-Sq-Tours-of-Scandal-Assassination-Spies-Meetup/) (https://www.amazon.com/Patriots-America-Thigngs-American-Should/dp/1596525495/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1517173322&sr=8-1&keywords=america+a+z+moser)