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Things to do in Alexandria

    Carlyle House Carlyle House Alexandria, Virginia
    The Carlyle House was built by John Carlyle during the years of 1751 to 1753 in Alexandria, Virginia, as well as three plantations and thousands of acres in the region after coming here from the Scottish shores in Great Britain. John was a merchant that immigrated to the British Colony of Virginia in 1741, and became a leading landowner, founding trustee, social and political figure in the northern area of the colony and first overseer of Alexandria. He first came to this country as an agent for the English merchant William Hicks and worked out of Belhaven, a small village that had grown up around the tobacco warehouse that sat high on a bluff overlooking the Potomac River and eventually would become Alexandria. John was quick to learn and soon had a knack for the business and became financially stable, marrying Sarah Fairfax in 1747, the cousin of Thomas Fairfax, the 6th Lord of Fairfax of Cameron, one of the most influential families in the region. It would be then that he had his beautiful house constructed and owing many acres all through the area; he was able to become involved in business ventures that included trading with England and the West Indies, retail stores in Alexandria, a forge, mill and foundry in the Shenandoah Valley. He would get involved in numerous religious and civic organizations, which was what men of his status did, and in January, 1754 was appointed by the lieutenant governor of Virginia, Robert Dinwiddie, a major and commissary of the Virginia forces that took part in the French and Indian War. He had become politically connected with all the right people in the region, as well as becoming friends with future President of the United States, George Washington. By 1755, the Carlyle House was the first headquarters of Major-General Edward Braddock during that war, and the Congress of Alexandria met there, probably in the dining room, and Braddock decided he would make an expedition to Fort Duquesne, that would end his life. Washington, his aide-de-camp, cautioned him to not lead the expedition, but he was that type of leader, making sure that if he could do it, his men could and would. After John's wife, Sarah passed on in 1761, he married Sybil West, the daughter of important Alexandrian Hugh West. The new couple would move out of Alexandria and go to a newly built plantation house and summer residence in Arlington, Virginia in 1770, and by 1780, John had passed on. He is buried at the old Presbyterian Meeting House in Alexandria, with the estate passing to John's only surviving son, George William Carlyle, who had been born in 1766. George served in the cavalry under William Washington, cousin of George, and killed in South Carolina in the Revolution War battle of Eutaw Springs in 1781, at the young age of 15, which was less than a year after his father's passing. John's grandson, through Sarah Carlyle, John Carlyle Herbert, would inherit the Carlyle House in 1781. The Carlyle House had been constructed for Sarah Fairfax, and it soon became a center for social and political events, and became quite a famous site when Braddock called the five colonial governors to meet there early in the campaign discussions that he would have about the French and Indian War. The magnificent stone, 18th century Palladian style houses was the only stone house in the region, and now has tours, lectures, special events and exhibits about the early historical and cultural events that happened here before there even was a United States of America.

    Torpedo Factory Art Center
    Torpedo Factory Art Center Alexandria, VirginiaThe Torpedo Factory Art Center sits along the Potomac River in the old town of Alexandria, Virginia, historically being a former torpedo factory and munitions storage facility. Presently it contains over 82 artists studios, two workshops and 6 galleries, with 165 professional visual artists that produce a large variety of artworks that include; sculpture, painting, stained glass, printmaking, ceramics, photography, fiber and jewelry. The six outstanding galleries that are located there include; the Scope Gallery of ceramics, the Target gallery, the Multiple Exposures gallery of photography, the Art League gallery, the Enamellists gallery and the Potomac Fiber Arts gallery. This exciting venue welcomes a half million visitors every year. In 1918, the U. S. Navy started construction on a torpedo factory in Alexandria, that would become the U. S. Naval Torpedo Station and during the following five years it would be the only factory to make and maintain torpedoes; eventually becoming the munitions storage area until WWII. When the need for more torpedoes became necessary, the plant had to increase quickly which lead to the construction of ten new buildings, with a green Mark XIV torpedo being made here which is showcased even today.  After WWII, the building would be used for storage facilities for the Smithsonian and Congress, until 1969, when President of the Art League, Marian Van Landingham suggested using it for artists lofts and studios, which was eventually purchased by the city and using for the huge conversion. That started in May 1974, and opened in September of the same year, getting more restorations in 1982 and 1983 with the city's marvelous waterfront development plan when it was gutted and reconstructed with a new ventilation system and central heating, reopening in 1983.

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    Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary MuseumStabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum Alexandria, Virginia
    The Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Shop/Museum is a historic apothecary shop in Alexandria, Virginia that has been saved as a museum, and while it was a drug store, was owned and operated by many generations of Quaker family. It went through many stages, originally started by Edward Stabler in 1792, being passed down to succeeding family members until 1933. Just after it closed down, the structure was bought by the Landmark Society that opened the old drug store as a museum in 1939. It was donated to the city in 2006, and now managed by the City's Office of Historic Alexandria. After Edward started the business, he moved his operation to another site in the town in 1796, and his son, William, took over the site in 1819. When Edward passed on in 1831, William inherited the business, opening a warehouse later on. John Leadbeater, William's brother-in-law, would acquire the shop in 1852 when William passed on, and an old legend has been passed along as well that stated General Robert E. Lee was in the shop when he got orders to put down John Brown's raid in 1859. John Leadbeater passed on in 1860, and his son, Edward inherited the shop, and since they were strong supporters of the union, almost lost the shop to the Confederates. Just after the First Battle of Bull Run, the victorious but completely exhausted union troops came to his store to buy whatever comforts they could find. During the early 20th century, the business was going good, with deliveries being made to many states throughout the region and became a wealthy wholesale business. During the Great Depression, the Leadbeater Drug Company, the oldest pharmacy in the nation, went out of business, although the Landmarks Society of Alexandria saw the magnificent history and value of the property so they bought it and restored it, reopening it as a museum in 1932. It was closed again in 2004 for numerous restorations and it would again be reopened in 2006 and donated to the city of Alexandria. The museum inside has thousands of fantastic exhibits and artifacts, exactly sitting on the shelves as they were left, and highlights the antebellum gothic revival furnishings that were also still inside. When the restoration was finished, the second floor, which had housed the warehouse, where meds were made for retail and wholesale, was transformed into a special events room and available as part of the tour. That room is exactly the way it was left in 1933.

     Washington Masonic National Memorial
    Washington Masonic National Memorial Alexandria, Virginia
    The George Washington Masonic National Memorial is the Masonic structure and memorial that is found in Alexandria, Virginia, and dedicated to the memory of George Washington, the first President of the United States and a Mason. This massive tower was designed after the Lighthouse of Alexandria in Egypt, partly because of the city's founders, John and Philip Alexander and the Masonic interest in magnificent structures of the ancient world. It stands so proudly on top of Shuter's Hill, which was named after a fort that had been there with the same name, by King Street and the Old Town district. This is the only Masonic structure in the country that is supported and maintained by the 52 grand lodges of the nation, which seems to be just opposite of what the usual Masonic practice that has each lodge supporting the building in the state that exists. The unusual building contains a wonderful collection of Alexandria-Washington Lodge No. 22 that houses most of the fraternal artifacts of Washington, that includes the Watson-Cassoul apron, past master portrait, working tools, sash and trowel to lay the cornerstone at the United States capitol. George had belonged to the Alexandria Lodge 22 and had been the lodge's Charter Master in 1788, although his records aren't available most likely lost during a fire the burned part of city hall, where the meetings had been held until the 1940s when the memorial was completed. They broke ground in 1922, with the cornerstone being laid in 1923 and finished in 1932. This structure was built without a loan or financing of any kind, with only hands-on funds and donations; and designed by a New York architectural firm called Helmle and Corbett, in the classical style, with Doric entrance, and the main hall composite. The tower areas are Corinthian, Ionic and Doric, capped with an Egyptian pyramid and capped with a flame like finial, in honor of the lighthouse it was designed after, and the murals done by Allyn Cox. It contains ten floors, with certain rooms used for public guided tours. Fourth, fifth, seventh, eighth and ninth are all furnished by Masonic appendant bodies, as in the Grotto, York Rite, and Tall Cedars of Lebanon. The first floor houses three big, distinct areas; the Assembly Hall, Dining Rooms and Shrine Rooms that are dedicated to the ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, Shriners, who have donated much to create hospitals and burn centers for children. The Assembly Hall is located in the center with eight New Hampshire green granite columns that are 18 feet tall and encompassing the room are dioramas that showcase scenes from Washington's life.

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Local Restaurants in Alexandria

    Restaurant Eve
    Appetizers; ricotta with olives & figlio emulsion; marinated shimaaji with compressed oranges, spring garlic & candied ginger; seared albacore tuna with smoked ham hock vinaigrette & baby arugula; papri chat; poached Maine mussels with pommery mustard & saffron broth; tartare of beef with housemade rye; salad of heirloom beets with fresh chevre & opal basil; housemade mortadella with sweet garlic puree, olives, capers & spring lettuces. Entrees; ribeye with Yukon gold potato croquettes & baby mizuna; rabbit with baby turnips, braised turnip greens & grain mustard rabbit jus; seafood chowder with shellfish, baguette croutons & aioli; roasted salmon with roasted ramps, sunchokes & sunflower puree; rockfish with Irish peas, Maine lobster meat & spring garlic cream; Spanish mackerel with garlic, confit of fennel & Spanish piquillo peppers; roasted belly of pork with lightly pickled morels, morel puree & bok choy.

    Chart House Restaurant
    Appetizers; calamari lightly fried with sweet & spicy peppers; crab stuffed mushrooms baked in white wine sauce; coconut crunchy shrimp served with sweet plum sauce; lobster spring rolls served with tangy mustard sauce; steamed mussels with shallots, garlic, sherry wine or tomato, basil, garlic & white wine. Soups & Salads; clam chowder, New England style; lobster bisque laced with sherry; chopped spinach salad with warm bacon dressing, chopped egg, bacon, mushroom & radishes; Chart House chopped salad with chopped mixed greens, cucumber, tomato, red onion, hearts of palm, pepperconinis and carrots in balsamic vinaigrette; Chart house salad bar. Fresh Fish Specials; dynamite salmon is crab encrusted, chive oil drizzle, with coconut ginger rice; macadamia crusted mahi mahi with warm peanut sauce with hint of Frangelico, mango coulis, coconut ginger rice; spiced yellowfin ahi Cajun spiced & grilled, ginger soy sauce, wasabi cream, spinach & bok choy; herb crusted salmon with garlic mashed potatoes & pommery mustard sauce; snapper Hemingway is parmesan & cracker encrusted snapper sautéed & topped with jumbo lump crab & shallot butter, rice pilaf; Chilean sea bass is buttery, white flaky texture broiled & slightly seasoned. Prime Rib, Steaks & Chicken; prime rib Chart House cut rubbed with aromatic herbs & spices, slow roasted, au jus; prime rib & shrimp; filet mignon brushed with steak butter; NY strip grilled; tenderloin medallions marinated in teriyaki, grilled, with sweet potato strings; filet 6oz. & shrimp; filet 6oz. & Australian lobster tail.

 

Rabbit Restaurant Eve Alexandria, Virginia

 

 Macadamia Encrusted Mahi Chart House Restaurant Alexandria, Virginia



Chilean Sea Bass Chart House Restaurant Alexandria, Virginia

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    Alexandria's Christ Church Christ Church Alexandria, Virginia
    Spanning across the Connecticut River between Cornish, St. Paul's Episcopal Church, found in the Old Town district of Alexandria, Virginia is a historic Episcopal Church in the Anglican Communion that was consecrated in 1818 and designed by Benjamin Latrobe, the second architect of the United States Capitol, and one of only a few that the architect designed in the gothic style, which would become one of the earliest examples of Gothic revival architecture in the United States. It was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985, and in 2009, celebrated its bicentennial of the founding.  William Holland Wilmer was the rector of St. Paul's from 1812 to 1826, and was one of the main people that became involved in the rebuilding of the Episcopal church in Virginia after it had been disestablished. He started St. John's Episcopal Church, Lafayette Square, as well in 1815 and wrote many dissertations about church matters and philosophy, contributing often to the church publications during that period, including the Washington Theological Repertory that he started in 1819. Because of his enthusiastic involvement and numerous contributions, he would be given an honorary degree (D.D.) by Brown University in 1820. He was able to get permission to construct a small lecture room on the church property in 1823, using his own money, and it would become the Sunday school, lecture room, schoolhouse and town hall. The church would buy it later on and it stood until 1855, when the building was sold and plans for a bigger replacement were announced. This hall would be gothic and built on the same site, to be used also as a Sunday school, meeting hall and lecture room until it was torn down in 1955. While he was rector of the church, Wilmer would get and decline many other calls to serve in various churches in the area, and in 1826, he was made president of the College of William and Mary, as well as rector of the Bruton Parish Church in Williamsburg. One of the constant worries that Wilmer had was the recruitment and instruction of the clergy, and in 1818 he started the Society for the Education of Young Men for the Ministry of the Protestant Episcopal church in the state and Maryland. The Bishop of Maryland took away his support of the society and after trying to start another seminary in Williamsburg didn't happen, he and the Rev. Reuel Keith decided to have the classes in St. Paul's lecture room. In 1823, the initial class of 14 students started in the lecture hall and it would be the beginning of the Virginia Theological Seminary. Wilmer was one of the three people that went to the British admiral, Cockburn during the Burning of Washington in 1812 to save the city, and as a result of that meeting, everything was either burned or destroyed, except the city of Alexandria. The history and Civil War period is a very interesting read, as is the rest of the story of St. Paul's and might give you a better idea of the many trials and tribulations that it went through.

    Woodlawn Plantation
    Woodlawn Plantation Fairfax County, VirginiaWoodlawn Plantation is a very historic estate in Fairfax County, Virginia, since it had originally been part of the Mount Vernon estate, George Washington's historical plantation. Eleanor Nelly Parke Curtis was Martha Washington's granddaughter and had been raised on Mount Vernon as one of the first family members. In 1799, George gave Nelly and his nephew Major Lawrence Lewis, 2000 acres of beautiful land for a wedding present, and commissioned Dr. William Thornton, the same architect that designed the US Capitol, to design a proper house for the newlyweds. Its construction began in 1800 and was completed by 1805, eventually being inherited by their son, Lorenzo Lewis, who then sold it in 1846 to the Troth-Gillingham Company. Chalkley and Lucas Gillingham and Jacob and Paul Hillman Troth were experimenting on a farming community that didn't use slave labor, and soon were selling off small parcels to other Friends, or Quakers. In 1853, they constructed the Woodlawn Friends Meeting House close to the main house. Paul Kester started restoration of the magnificent house in 1901, and stayed long enough to complete it, and then went to Gunston Hall, selling Woodlawn to actress Elizabeth Sharpe. After her, Senator and Mrs. Oscar Underwood of Alabama purchased the estate. The mansion sits on a hill that looks out over Mount Vernon, with the Mount Vernon mansion visible from the main house at Woodlawn. Presently, there are 126 acres included in Woodlawn, with the house in excellent condition as well as the surrounding gardens, with the other acres being sold off over the years to various developers. The plantation is owned and run as a museum by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and open to the public during the year, with many marvelous outings still being held there, especially during the April to October period. In 1970, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places and made a National Historic Landmark in 1998. Also located on the grounds is the Pope-Leighey House that was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, which had been moved here in 1965, after having been completely taken apart and rebuilt on the Woodlawn Plantation property. It sat on a piece of ground with unstable marine clay and had to be moved in 1995, at a cost of seventy more than the house initially cost.

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    Freedom House MuseumFreedom House Museum Alexandria, Virginia
    The Freedom House Museum in a creation in process, dedicated to preserving the incredible and amazing story of thousands of women, children and men that passed through the walls on a heartless harrowing journey that led only to bondage, hard labor and harder living conditions in the deep south. It is located in Alexandria, Virginia and had been the former headquarters of Franklin, Armfield and Company, and built to enrich the slave traders and slave owners in the south during that horrendous period. The structure held the biggest domestic slave trading company in the nation. As stewards of that miserable piece of property, that had once kept slaves captive until purchased, the house serves to free, educate and enlighten these peoples' and our descendants, under the auspices of the Northern Virginia Urban League (NOVAUL), that today is devoted to the development of the Freedom House Museum. The museum is currently in progress, assembling and creating the many exhibits that will tell the story, and thus far, includes; the king cotton exhibit, nightmares and dreams exhibit, slave pen exhibit, slave pen iron gate, Civil War jail cell door, before and after photographs exhibit, who the people are that have become involved in this marvelous venture, painting the first floor photos, in the beginning exhibits, photographs of the brick preservation, footers, dehumidifiers and pumps used, restoration of the hard wood floors, a diorama stage, restoration of the original beams, the stairs and painted floors, whitewashing, painting, utility walls and electrical and lighting refurbishments. It is actually a work of love in progress, being recreated so that so many people in this country that never, realized or understood the terrible life and existence that these poor people had at the hands of our "forefathers", who had come to a new world to start a life with freedoms, of religion, of speech, of property and more; and then use slave labor to achieve their dreams and hopes. Unbelievable, irreversible and almost unforgiveable, but their descendants have, or at least some of them have, although we can never, ever forget that black period in our history, that changed the course of so many lives and destroyed so many lives; it is our hope and prayer that these outstanding American pioneers can someday, some way find it in their hearts to realize that the people back then, although believed to be righteous and honorable, were in reality, ignorant backward and selfish; which we, their descendants will one day have to reckon with as it is for sure that they did and will.

    Pope-Leighey House
    Pope-Leighey House Alexandria, VirginiaThe Pope-Leighey House was originally referred to as the Loren Pope Residence, which is one of the three Frank Lloyd Wright designed houses in Virginia, and after being relocated twice, sits on the beautiful grounds of the Woodlawn Plantation in Alexandria, Virginia. Journalist Loren Pope and his wife, Charlotte, commissioned the house from Frank's Usonian principles and was finished being constructed in 1941 in Falls, Church, Virginia for $7000. Loren had been writing for the Washington Evening Star and became interested in Frank after studying his Wasmuth Portfolio, a 1938 Time Magazine article, as well as Frank's recent published autobiography. Loren met Frank in 1938, when he came to Washington to make a presentation at a site that he had started but never finished. Loren went to Frank at his presentation, and said that he would like him to design his house, and Wright said he didn't design speculative works, but really only designed houses for "people that deserved them". Loren then wrote to the architect, starting his letter "Dear Mr. Wright, There are certain things a man wants during life, and of life. Material things and things of the spirit. The writer has one fervent wish that includes both. It is a house created by you." After Frank agreed, Pope went to visit another Usonian house that Wright designed and then met Frank at Taliesin; who then designed a house with 1800 square feet. Pope was only making $50 a week and borrowing the money needed for the house wasn't easy, with one lender saying he was building a "white elephant". Pope's employer, the Evening Star, agreed to loan him $5700 and the building started after Frank had resized the house down to 1200 square feet. Loren and his family would live in the house for only six years, moving away in 1946 to a 365 acre farm in Loudon County and planned to have a bigger Wright house constructed. Although Pope didn't make the kind of money needed to build the house at that time, and it wouldn't be until 1959, but by then, Wright was very busy designing the Guggenheim museum in New York and also getting to the end of his life. The design of this house is a Wright Usonian model a good designed house for middle income folks that brought the natural elements into its spaces with modest materials and a flat roof. It is an L-shaped single story, designed on a 2 by 4 foot rectangular grid scored into the concrete base painted in Frank's signature Cherokee red and has two bedrooms and a bathroom in one wing with the living and dining rooms in the other wing. Where the two wings meet, the entrance was placed, with a study and kitchen, and because of the land's slope, it had to be constructed on two levels. The living room ceiling is 11 and a half feet high while the bedroom wing open out with tall glass doors and window with a patterned ribbon of clerestory windows at the top of the walls. The materials Frank used to build the house included Tidewater red cypress, brick and glass, with the whole house using radiant heat with hot water pipes embedded in the concrete slab, like the early 1970s and 1980s houses of Florida, which turned out to be difficult to repair. The furniture was also designed by Frank; and he had his apprentice, Gordon Chadwick oversee the overall construction of the home, although he visited the house on numerous occasions. He, Wright, thought that the house was costing Loren too much and didn't bother getting his final payment. Frank wanted to name the place, "Touchstone", since the design turned out to be one of his best Usonian ideals. Howard Rickett of Vienna, Virginia was the house's main carpenter. In 1946, the Popes sold the house to Marjorie and Robert Leighey, and in 1961, they told them that the house would be destroyed to make way for Interstate 66. When Robert passed on in 1963, Marjorie decided to donate the house to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1964, and the entire $31,500 condemnation award so that the house could be moved. The house would then be completed taken apart, moved and then rebuilt on the Woodlawn property and opened to the public in 1965, with Marjorie living there from 1969 until she passed on in 1983.

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    Lee-Fendall HouseLee-Fendall House Alexandria, Virginia
    The Lee-Fendall house is found in Alexandria, Virginia, constructed in 1785 by Philip Richard Fendall after he bought the lot from Major General Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee in 1784. Philip started constructing the house for his second wife, Elizabeth (Steptoe) Lee in the following spring or summer, which was located on the corner of Washington and Oronoko Streets, which was right on the edge of Alexandria. At that period, there weren't many neighbors or houses, so the couple had a majestic view of Oronoko Bay and the tall ships that were docked. On the north and west, were gorgeous fields of grass and clover, and the small town was growing into a thriving community and political center in northern Virginia, just outside of the capitol. No one knows about the architect, although the style is like that located at Hard Bargain, an estate constructed by the Digges family and in Charles County where Philip had come from. The house was finished in November, 1785, when George Washington wrote in his diary that was dated November 10, 1785; "Went to Alexandria to meet the Directors of the Potomack Company and dined at Mr. Fendall's (who was from home) and returned in the evening with Mrs. Washington." The Fendalls were mentioned at least seven times in the diary, more so than any other family other than his own, and Elizabeth became a favorite with both Martha and George; visiting their home at Mount Vernon and acting as the hostess on many occasions. The area around the house is full of historic individuals living there in the area, and once the revolution was over, the city of Alexandria became known as Washington's home town, as well as the home town of the Lees. At the dining room table in Fendall's, Lee wrote the speech that Colonel Dennis Ramsey, Mayor of Alexandria gave at the farewell dinner given to Washington by his fellow citizens when he left to go to Washington and become the first President of the United States. Elizabeth lived in the house from 1785 until June, 1789, when she passed away on a trip to visit her daughter, Matilda at Stratford, but died unexpectedly in Baltimore, Maryland. In 1791, Fendall would marry Harry's sister, Mary "Mollie" Lee, and he finally passed on in 1805, with Mollie staying on in the house with her two children, Philip Richard Fendall II and Lucy Eleanor Fendall Buchanan, until she passed on in 1827. The Lees and the Fendalls were continuing entwined in the life around Alexandria and had written many letters that are still seen today in the museum. The house has a magnificent history and should be an excellent read for those of you who are interested in history and especially that of the region around Alexandria, when it was one of the cultural and historical centers in the Washington, D. C. area. It would stay in the Lee family for many years, until Myra Fleming in 1903, who said she would burn down the house with her in it if it should leave the Lee family. Her mother went to Myra's best friend, Mai Greenwell and asked her if she would purchase it, but she was happy with her own home and declined. Fortunately at the meeting, one Robert Forsyth Downham, told them that if Mai would marry him, he would buy the house, which she agreed to and that ended the Lee family's control of the majestic and historic old house. The Downhams lived in the house until 1937, when it was sold to John L. Lewis, the president of the United Mine Workers, and for the next 32 years, he, his wife, Myrta and daughter Katherine would live there. Lewis had become well known on the national scene during the famous coal strikes of WWII, and when that ended, he became a leader in the labor union movement. When he passed on in 1969, the house would be leased until 1974, and then bought by the Virginia Trust for Historic Preservation.

    River Farm 
    River Farm Alexandria, VirginiaThe River Farm sits on 25 acres with gardens and is located in Alexandria, Virginia, owned by George Washington from 1760 until his passing in 1799 and has become the American Horticulture Society's headquarters. The farm land was started in 1653 and 54 when Giles Brent and his wife, a princess of the Piscataway people got grant of 1800 acres, called Piscataway Neck. In 1739, William Clifton inherited the farm in 1739 and renamed it Clifton's Neck, and constructed the marvelous brick house that is now the AHS headquarters. George Washington bought the farm in 1760 at a bankruptcy sale and changed the name once more, but to River Farm, leasing it to tenant farmers. The small plot of acreage is located on the northern most parcel of that original grant and passed on down to various owners, and almost sold to the Soviet Union as a country retreat; but instead, it was given to the society in 1973. The estate today includes the house, although it was rebuilt bigger and remodeled, with wonderful naturalistic gardens and formal garden areas as well. It contains many historical associations with Washington, and include Kentucky coffee trees that are descended from the ones first brought here by Washington after he returned from surveys in the Ohio River valley and a huge old Osage-orange tree that is the oldest on the estate and thought to be the biggest in the country. It is also believed to have been a gift from Thomas Jefferson to the Washington family, grown from seedlings brought back by the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804-1806. Some of the featured items include the Andre Bluemel Meadow located on 4 acres with a naturalistic flare full of native grasses and wildflowers, with two huge black walnut trees that date to Washington; the children's garden with over a dozen small gardens for the little ones; the wildlife garden that contains a little pond with goldfish, turtles and frogs and surrounded by blueberry and northern bayberry shrubs, holly, juniper and grasses. Also included is the estate house plantings that contains native shrubs, trees and Allegheny serviceberry, Carolina silverbell, dwarf fothergilla, fringe tree and a marvelous hedge of English boxwood with some of the specimens almost a century old. The garden calm is filled with perennials, shrubs and trees for shade, with the huge Osage-Orange tree located here, the White House gates that had been installed at the White House in 1819 after the War of 1812, when it was reconstructed and used for over a 120 years at the northeast entrance, the growing connection demonstration garden with vegetables and herbs, the orchard full of plum, cherry, apple and pear trees with some Japanese persimmon trees; the perennial border with plants that were selected for resistance to pests and diseases and the George Harding Memorial azalea garden with hundreds of azalea species, cultivars and varieties, along with many tiny ornamental trees including dogwoods, dawn redwood, dove trees and river birch.

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    Alexandria Archaeology MuseumAlexandria Archaeology Museum Alexandria, Virginia
    The Alexandria Archaeology Museum in Alexandria, Virginia is located on the third floor of the Torpedo Factory Art Center in studio number 327 and contains many outstanding artifacts and other memorabilia that has been discovered and uncovered by the region's archaeologists, students and volunteers working with the local citizens and developers to study and manage the marvelous archaeological relics and resources that pertain to the city's past history and to share that knowledge and its subsequent discoveries with the community and outside world. Using local preservation laws, archaeologists look over all the construction that happens in the city so that these sites may be excavated in advance of any type of development that might invade the protected resources. One of their excellent exhibits include A Community Digs Its Past: The Lee Street Site that excavates a one city block area at the corner of South Lee and Queen Streets, so that it can explore the various stages of archaeology that occurred here as well as the historical changes that occurred in the city of Alexandria. The Alexandria Gazette has preserved the history of the city and the merchants since 1784, using artifacts from the many archaeological excavations that were done on the sites of early shops and houses, along with the advertisements from their early editions of the paper, offering an insight into the history of the city's merchants and their wares. The artifacts that have been discovered in the wells behind these establishments has given archaeologists an inside look at the products that were sold at their shops in the late 18th and 19th centuries, with the advertisements giving some ideas as to what types of consumer goods were used and then thrown away in the city's backyards. The city was laid out in 1749, on a site that had been a tobacco warehouse, and led by Scottish merchants, the village grew into a major commercial port by the end of the century. During the 19th century, trade here began to decline as other cities in the nearby area began to grow, like Baltimore and other northern cities, there were many types of goods that came into the city from other American ports which were then sold to the local country merchants and citizens of the city. The majority of the city's early shops had been located around King Street, near the city hall and Market Square, as well as being close to the waterfront, since the merchandise could be sold right off the wharf or auctioned by vendure merchants. Their farmer's market started in 1753 and would sell the fresh produce that the city used to live on.

    Abingdon Plantation
    Abingdon ruins Arlington County, Virginia
    Abingdon, which is also called the Alexander-Custis Plantation is an 18th century plantation that was once owned by the prominent Alexander, Custis, Stuart and Hunter families in Arlington County, Virginia; which had been located on former grounds that grew into the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, and best known as the birthplace of Eleanor "Nelly" Parke Custis Lewis, a granddaughter of Martha Washington and step-granddaughter of United States President George Washington. It is also known for having been the home of the progenitor of every weeping willow in the nation. The land where Abingdon had been constructed was once known as Gravelly Point, and had been granted to Robert Howson in 1669, who turned around and sold it to Captain John Alexander for 6,000 pounds of tobacco, who was descended from the MacDonald clan of Scotland and one of the sons of the Earl of Stirling. He immigrated to the colony of Virginia in 1659 and settled in the county of Stafford, and when he purchased the property it went from Georgetown to Hunting Creek. When John passed on in 1677, he left his son, John, all the property from Four Mile Run to the Potomac River, while one of his cousins, Philip Alexander donated a large parcel of the land where the city of Alexandria would be built and thus named in his honor. Abingdon was built by Alexander's great-grandson, Girard Alexander I in 1746, where it sat opposite of the Anacostia River. The estate, with its 900 acres and Arlington were bought from Robert Alexander in 1778, by John Parke Custis, the son of Daniel Parke Custis and Martha Washington and the stepson of George Washington. John had been anxious to buy more land and he wanted Abingdon, but he didn't have much business experience and was taken advantage of by Robert who sold the parcel for 12 pounds an acre; while some sources have stated that it was George Washington that purchased the estate for John, but is irrelevant either way. Custis wanted the land since it was conveniently located between Mount Vernon and Mount Airy in Prince George's County, Maryland. John became comfortable at Abingdon although he was having some problems with his finances since he was so uncomfortable with business and the wartime taxes that were levied. The compound interest on the original 12,000 pounds had grown to 48,000 pounds and after he passed on, his administrators had to spend more than a decade straighten out the mess. Just after coming to Abingdon, John and his wife, Eleanor Calvert had their third child, Eleanor "Nelly" Parke Custis in 1779, and along with her, they would raise all four children at Abingdon. He had planned on constructing a grander house to live in at Abingdon, but his passing stopped that, and after he was killed at the Siege of Yorktown in 1781, his widow Eleanor remarried in the autumn of 1783 to an old friend and associate correspondent of George Washington's, Dr. David Stuart. The Stuarts would stay at Abingdon, and after the marriage, George and Martha would adopt the youngest Custis children, Nelly and George, with the older daughters, Martha and Elizabeth staying with the Stuarts at Abingdon. The Stuarts would have another seven children, that included five daughters that became known as the Stuart sisters, that were all born and raised there. Since the estate had been purchased with Continental currency, the heirs of Girard Alexander would bring a lawsuit against the Custis and Stuart families in hopes of getting their money, so that after many years of litigation, the estate would return to the Alexander family. Walter Alexander got ownership of Abingdon and sold it to the Wise family, who turned around and transferred the ownership of the place to General Alexander Hunter. And the history of Abingdon turned down another road, with great and interesting stories that might be worth reading further, including the story of how America was able to be endowed with weeping willows. It is a great read if you have the time and inclination so that you can learn the entire story which goes on for many years and decades.

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May 12, 2011