Old Town

Alexandria Virginia was established in the mid 1700s as a tobacco port, its history is fascinating. At one time, this busy port city was home to one of the largest slave trading companies and the largest settlement of free blacks in America. Many black slaves ran here to find freedom, most famously, the Edmonson sisters, born in Maryland (given voice by Harriet Beecher Stowe in Uncle Tom’s Cabin).

Local Virginian, Edward Stabler, bought slaves purely to emancipate them throughout his lifetime.

Stabler's Apothecary

Stabler’s Apothecary

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It is still considered today, full of both corporate enterprise and liberalism; home to musicians, writers, artists, designers and entrepreneurs.

George Washington

George Washington

Mama Cass

Mama Cass

Jim Morrison

Jim Morrison

A haven for both politicians and creatives, George Washington and President Gerald Ford both called Alexandria home, and musical talents Mama Cass and Jim Morrison grew up here as well.

The torpedo factory, erected in 1918 and closed when peace was declared after WWII in June of 1945, local city officials, artists and investors gathered forces and began renovating the building into artist lofts and exhibition spaces. You can see a deactivated torpedo up close and personal on the first floor.

Torpedo Factory

Torpedo Factory

 

On the third floor houses a wonderful place dedicated to delving into the past, the Alexandria Archeological Museum. This is a must see for the kids, where they can see and touch some of the latest excavated finds and learn about and experience the city in an immersive way.

Torpedo Factory as it stands today

Torpedo Factory as it stands today

There are the proverbial cobblestone streets and fantastic architectural gems from the 1700s through Deco.

Elk's Lodge Entry

Elk’s Lodge Entry

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Another must see for modernists is the Frank Lloyd Wright Pope Leighey House from 1940, which occupies the same grounds of Woodlawn.

Pope-Leighey House

Pope-Leighey House

pope2

Pope-Leighey House Library

Pope-Leighey House Library

George Washington gave the site to his nephew and Martha’s granddaughter in 1799, and the home was designed by architect William Thorton, designer of the U.S. Capitol, and was the very first property on the National Trust.

Woodlawn

Woodlawn

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Water Wheel Mill

Water Wheel Mill

photo credit: Peter Skowronski

The plantation was later sold in 1846 to Troth, a Quaker lumberman who wished to create a free labor colony. At the time of purchase, Woodlawn had an already established free-black community (many freed from Washington in his will) and were employed there until the property was then sold to Baptists John and Rachel Mason, who established a Sunday School in previous Quaker School location in the mansion.

Sustainable Farming

Sustainable Farming

The grounds still continue fostering new ways of thinking, and today is home to Arcadia, a passionate, non-profit enterprise focusing on sustainable food and agriculture, focusing on community engagement, food access, and environmental stewardship.

Outreach Programming

Outreach Programming

 

Food Access

Food Access

Alexandria is all that it claims to be, and more. It blends old heritage with new ideas seamlessly, and is definitely worth the visit. Don’t be afraid to go off the beaten path and venture down the side streets to local havens of music, art, and need I say, fantastic food establishments.

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This entry was published on November 2, 2013 at 6:15 pm. It’s filed under Explore and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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