This weekend marks the 105th anniversary of the Alexandria Torpedo Factory’s ironic origins.
As told in the Office of Historic Alexandria’s This Week in Historic Alexandria newsletter, the contract for constructing the U.S. Naval Torpedo Station was awarded on Oct. 14, 1918. The United States was embroiled in the First World War, but work on the building wouldn’t begin until the day after the war ended.
“Ironically, work on the building began on November 12, 1918, the day after Armistice Day, which marked the official end of World War I,” the Office of Historic Alexandria wrote. “The first torpedo was produced there in November 1920. Once fully operational, the Torpedo Station was responsible for the manufacture and maintenance of torpedoes for the next five years.”
Five years after it started operations, the factory temporarily stopped producing torpedos and became a storage facility until WWII, when production resumed at an intense rate. The Torpedo Factory website said the complex grew to 16 buildings and 5,000 employees, who were notably not segregated, which the website said was uncommon in Virginia at the time.
After the war, the Torpedo Factory briefly manufactured parts for rocket engines before shutting down permanently in 1946. In the 1950s it was used as the Federal Records Center and stored various items, from dinosaur bones to the Nuremberg War Crimes trial records — Alexandria gets a special shoutout at the start of William L. Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.
In 1974, the Alexandria City Council passed a three-year pilot to allow The Art League to set up inside the neglected building. The interior was power-washed, 40 dump trucks of debris were removed, and the Torpedo Factory Art center was born.
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Get ready to Shake, Rattle and Roll with this one-of-a-kind, high-octane rockabilly concert experience! Rockabilly Rumble is the all-new, musical experience celebrating the southern rock music that exploded on the scene in the 1950s. Organized by Alexandria City High School Alum and pro-musician Sam C. Jones, this band of world-class performers will have you dancing in your Blue Suede Shoes all night long with songs made famous by Bo Ridley, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Buddy Holly, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley and more. Relive their most popular hits, along with some forgotten gems. “Rockabilly Rumble” is a dance-worthy, foot stomping evening you’ll never forget!
This show is 21+ only.
YOU MUST HAVE A VALID PHYSICAL ID. A PICTURE OF YOUR ID IS NOT ACCEPTABLE.
Unwrap the magic of Black Friday and Small Business Saturday all weekend at Current Boutique! Dive into luxury with exclusive deals on pre-loved designer treasures, celebrating sustainable fashion with every purchase. Whether in-store or online, indulge in guilt-free glamour and support local businesses. ✨🛍️👗
💥 Sale: 25% off everything & 50% off tall boots
📅 Date: Friday November 24 – Sunday November 26