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Photo essay: A walk through history in Old Town Alexandria Special

The Lee-Fendall House. This home was in Robert E. Lee s family for a long period of time.
The City of Alexandria is deeply rooted in early American history. Throughout the Old Town section of Alexandria, many historical structures remain. When visiting the city and its landmarks, it is like stepping back in time.
Alexandria - Alexandria's historical roots date long before the city was officially founded in 1749, as settlers first arrived there in 1669. Built along the Potomac River, it was an optimal location to do business. The city hosted a myriad of activity during the 18th Century and, while perhaps the types of businesses have changed, it remains a busy city today.
George Washington, prior to his serving as General and President, was a surveyor and participated in the planning for the proposed town of Alexandria.
Washington spent much time in this area of Northern Virginia, known today as "Old Town", as he owned a townhouse, secondary properties, and attended church services; he even was first publicly addressed as "President" on the steps of Wise's Tavern, located on North Fairfax Street.
Historical marker placed on the building that was once a tavern and where George Washington was firs...
Historical marker placed on the building that was once a tavern and where George Washington was first addressed publicly as "President".
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Also on North Fairfax Street is Carlyle House. Construction for the home began in 1751 by John Carlyle; the home was completed in 1753. Built on one of the best properties in Alexandria, with the Potomac waterfront in the rear and the Town Market Square a short walk from the front, it was an ideal location for a merchant whose shipments came up the Potomac.
An early summer view of Carlyle House in 2009.
An early summer view of Carlyle House in 2009.
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An image taken inside Carlyle House. This house was modeled after a Scottish country manor.
An image taken inside Carlyle House. This house was modeled after a Scottish country manor.
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Carlyle had established himself as a prominent member of early Alexandria society, and his home was the center of many political and social gatherings. The property was almost lost due to neglect over the 19th century, but in 1970 the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority acquired the house and much restoration effort has been done in order to restore the home and preserve it for all to enjoy.
Christ Church, located on N. Washington Street, was built in the latter part of the 18th century and is still an active congregation today. Construction of the church began back in 1767 and was completed in 1773. Although the church is still an active one, Christ Church can also be toured during specified hours.
The current pulpit was installed in the late 19th century  it is not an original  but a replica in d...
The current pulpit was installed in the late 19th century, it is not an original, but a replica in design, placement and liturgical practices to be consistent with the way it would have looked in the 18th century.
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The pews in Christ Church look much today like they did long ago when people  such as George Washing...
The pews in Christ Church look much today like they did long ago when people, such as George Washington and Robert E. Lee, were members and attended services.
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This image was taken during a 2009 tour  this pew was the one Washington and his family occupied for...
This image was taken during a 2009 tour, this pew was the one Washington and his family occupied for Sunday services.
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Christ Church  as seen from a distance. It is difficult to capture the scope of the architecture  ev...
Christ Church, as seen from a distance. It is difficult to capture the scope of the architecture, even from a distance.
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Apothecaries were popular in the 18th century, and Alexandria's apothecary was located on South Fairfax Street. It was operated continuously by the same family from 1792-1933. A very interesting tour, this one highlights the political, business and societal perspective of the changes from Colonial times to the Great Depression.
This is the exterior of the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum. It was owned and operated continuo...
This is the exterior of the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum. It was owned and operated continuously by the same family for 141 years.
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An image of the interior located on the  museum s main floor. The doors to this building were simply...
An image of the interior located on the museum's main floor. The doors to this building were simply locked in 1933 when the business filed for bankruptcy. The building and its contents are authentic to how it was left with supplies still in the bottles and drawers. Truly remarkable.
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Gadby's Tavern was opened in Colonial times and remains a working business to this very day. A museum section has been added to the tavern and former hotel. What is now the museum building was once a prosperous tavern, which opened somewhere around 1785. The current Gadsby's Restaurant was once a hotel in the late 18th Century.
Back in Colonial times Gadsby s Tavern was a location where many prominent people visited  ate  dran...
Back in Colonial times Gadsby's Tavern was a location where many prominent people visited, ate, drank, socialized, and attended meetings and performances. Washington was a patron as was John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe and Marquis de Lafayette and many other domestic and foreign dignitaries. Here, the museum has replicated the "main" tavern section.
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The ballroom at Gadsby s. This is the location where George Washington s birthday party was given in...
The ballroom at Gadsby's. This is the location where George Washington's birthday party was given in 1798 and 1799 (the year he died). Today the museum continues the tradition and celebrates Washington's birthday each year.
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These are a few highlights of Alexandria's earliest history and the architecture that provided the atmosphere for history to be shaped in its walls. However, if you wander the streets, you'll note many residencies contain plaques indicating their historical connection. Since they are private homes, many are not available for tours, but still noteworthy as one walks through city streets.
Marker on an Alexandria home that once was a property owned by George Washington
Marker on an Alexandria home that once was a property owned by George Washington
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Princess Street is of the two cobblestone segments that remain in Old Town Alexandria. This road has...
Princess Street is of the two cobblestone segments that remain in Old Town Alexandria. This road has only been "touched" once since it was originally built. These are the original cobbles.
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Marker on an Alexandria home.
Marker on an Alexandria home.
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Image of the house marked  John Douglass Brown House .  The city s website describes this structure ...
Image of the house marked "John Douglass Brown House". The city's website describes this structure as perhaps the "least altered of the surviving early buildings"
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A different angle of the John Douglass Brown home.
A different angle of the John Douglass Brown home.
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Home located in Old Town Alexandria.
Home located in Old Town Alexandria.
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The Lee-Fendall House. This home was in Robert E. Lee s family for a long period of time.
The Lee-Fendall House. This home was in Robert E. Lee's family for a long period of time.
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Robert E. Lee s boyhood home and marker.
Robert E. Lee's boyhood home and marker.
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8 comments

#1Dec 8, 2012 Igor I. Solar
A wonderful article and great images of historic places! Loved it!!
#2Dec 8, 2012 Gar Swaffar
Extremely rare instance regarding the apothecary building. I only know of one "general store" on the west coast which was closed when "Dewey is Elected" ran in the paper, and there it sits today, still owned by the same family. The apothecary shop having all the stuff though...wow.
#3Dec 8, 2012 Leigh Goessl
@Igor I. Solar
A wonderful article and great images of historic places! Loved it!!
Thanks Igor!
@Gar Swaffar
Extremely rare instance regarding the apothecary building. I only know of one "general store" on the west coast which was closed when "Dewey is Elected" ran in the paper, and there it sits today, still owned by the same family. The apothecary shop having all the stuff though...wow.
The apothecary is incredible, and definitely a separate article. I see something new every time I visit b/c there is just so much. While all the tours in Alexandria are wonderful, to me, that one is a "can't miss".
That general store sounds very interesting. Gar, do you happen to know the family's name? (I'd love to look this one up).
#4Dec 8, 2012 Brandi Fleeks
Wow. Old Town Alexandria looks idyllic. I'd definitely visit.
#5Dec 8, 2012 Elizabeth Batt
I wish we had a town as glamorous in NW Montana. Plenty of abandoned homesteads and the mining town at Butte is kind of cool. Some of the stories surrounding the mining towns are less historical and more of the hair curling variety :) Great report and pics Leigh!
#6Dec 8, 2012 Debra Myers
Amazing article...a lot of history here! Loved the photos and I am also wowed by the apothecary!
#7Dec 8, 2012 Kay Mathews
Well, Leigh...that does it...I'm just going to have to plan a trip to Northern Virginia! Love the pictures because they remind me of where I spent so many happy days!
#8Dec 9, 2012 Leigh Goessl
Definitely a great city (although admittedly, I'm a bit biased!) Thanks for reading and for sharing your comments everyone.
@Elizabeth Batt
I wish we had a town as glamorous in NW Montana. Plenty of abandoned homesteads and the mining town at Butte is kind of cool. Some of the stories surrounding the mining towns are less historical and more of the hair curling variety :) Great report and pics Leigh!
Sounds so different, and interesting, someday I hope to explore more of what's west of the Mississippi.

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