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Upcoming tours examine poisons and death in Old Town

As we near the end of September, spooky season is creeping up on the horizon for Alexandria.

A series of tours planned for next month blend the eerie Halloween spirit and local history to look at how late 18th century and early 19th century residents processed death.

Every Friday in October, the Carlyle House (121 N Fairfax Street) is hosting tours of the building as it would have looked in mourning for “Death Comes to Carlyle House.”

“In September 1780, John Carlyle passed away and the family would have gone into mourning,” a newsletter from the Office of Historic Alexandria said. “Join us for an evening tour of the house to learn about death and mourning in the 18th century. Tours will be led through the house at 6 p.m., 7 p.m., and 8 p.m.”

Tickets are $12 per person.

Nearby, on Friday, Oct. 14, Gadsby’s Tavern Museum (138 N Royal Street) is hosting a similar tour: “Death at the City Tavern.”

“In 1808, death visited Alexandria’s City Hotel when the curtain fell upon one of theatre’s ‘Brightest Ornaments,'” the newsletter said. “While a guest at the hotel, Anne Brunton Merry Wignell Warren, the most celebrated actress in the U.S., shockingly lost both her infant son and her own life at the young age of 39 in what is now known as Gadsby’s Tavern Museum.”

The tour includes an exploration of phantasmagoria, a cocktail, macabre trivia competition and viewing of the 1910 silent film Frankenstein.

The tour is scheduled for 7-9 p.m. Tickets are $30 per person with a minimum age of 21.

Finally, the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum (105-107 S Fairfax Street) is hosting a tour of the sinister side of medicine. A tour focused on poisons is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 7, from 5:30-6:45 p.m. Tours are $15 per person or $12 for Office of Historic Alexandria members.

“Come explore the sinister side of medicine on the Apothecary Museum’s Poison Tour,” the newsletter said. “This tour explores several different types of poisons, their historic uses at the Apothecary, and what we know today. Recommended for ages 18 and up.”

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