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Historic Old Town Home and Museum Reopens With Renewed Focus on Racial Injustice

After months closed during the pandemic, the Lee-Fendall House and Garden (614 Oronoco Street) in Alexandria has reopened with new tours planned to focus on women and minorities throughout the home’s history.

The house, built in 1785, is a museum dedicated to covering the history of the families that owned the home and the slaves and servants that worked there over the years. In recent years, that has meant a renewed focus on learning more about the slaves that were forced to work at the house for the Lee family.

“As we work to reopen, we are re-dedicated to telling a fuller story,” Martha Withers, Executive Director of the Lee-Fendall House said in a newsletter. “The violent deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and the ensuing protests are reminders of how our nation struggles with racism and injustice born in the past and harbored in the present. We have an obligation not to ignore the racism experienced every day by African Americans and other Americans of color. We must use our knowledge of the past to shed light on these ongoing problems.”

Tours at the facility are limited to ten people or less, with all participants required to wear face masks.

“[The museum] will sanitize high-touch surfaces between each group of visitors and maintain social distancing of six feet during tours,” the museum staff said in the newsletter. “Volunteers, staff, and visitors wear masks in accordance with state regulations.”

The next tour for the house is Under the Same Roof: Enslaved and Free Servants at Lee-Fendall scheduled for Saturday, July 25. Tickets for the program are $10 and must be purchased in advance.

“As we work to broaden this story, we want to become a place where people can engage in historical understanding relevant to current issues,” Withers said. “To that end, we will continue to expand programs and exhibits that examine the lives of enslaved and free African Americans connected to our site, telling a more diverse story from the days of the early Republic through the upheavals of the 1960s.”

Photo via Lee-Fendall House

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