The Alexandria Black History Museum closed yesterday (Sunday) for nearly three weeks for interior renovations to ward off mold and water damage.
The city announced the temporary closure, through Aug. 10, in a release on Friday.
This is the second round of upgrades for the museum, which reopened in February 2023 after a three-year closure. Museum leadership took advantage of the forced closure due to the pandemic to undertake renovation work, including refreshed carpet and paint, a new kitchen and accessible bathrooms.
The work also attended to surprise water damage to the basement in the middle of the pandemic that prolonged the closures.
While these new renovations are also related to water, they were already scheduled to be done, according to the city.
The upgrades include coating the walls with Drylok and painting them to “provide a better protective shield against water infiltration and mold,” a city spokeswoman told ALXnow.
The decision to close was “out of an abundance of caution to protect staff and public from breathing in the chemicals being used,” she said.
In addition to the increased mold and water protections, offices will get new ceiling tiles, paint and carpet while the lower-level hallway and stairway will get new linoleum, she said.
The Office of Historic Alexandria is going all out for Juneteenth this year with four events, a storytelling event, and more around the city.
Juneteenth, celebrated June 19, marks the end of slavery in the United States.
There are several city-led programs around Alexandria between this weekend and next marking the occasion with programs available for all ages.
According to the Office of Historic Alexandria:
- Tales for Young Historians: Saturday, June 10, 10:30-11:30 a.m. at Beatley Library (5005 Duke Street) — The Alexandria Black History Museum and the Alexandria Library invite you to a collaborative event celebrating Juneteenth. All are welcome, but the event is geared toward children ages 5-8.
- Juneteenth at the Alexandria Archaeology Museum: Friday, June 16, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Alexandria Archaeology Museum (105 N Union Street, Unit 327) — Visit the Alexandria Archaeology Museum for a hands-on activity related to a free Black site excavated in Alexandria. The activity is paired with the new Lee Street Site permanent archaeology exhibit. The Lee Street Site answers questions like: what is urban archaeology; what did the city look like in the past; and what do archaeologists do? The newly designed exhibit centers the experiences of free and enslaved African Americans in Alexandria.
- Douglass Cemetery Remembrance: Saturday, June 17, 10 -11:30 a.m. at Douglass Cemetery (105 N Union Street) — Join supporters and volunteers at this historic Black cemetery to place purple ribbons of remembrance on the gravestones and attend a short ceremony following in honor of those buried in Douglass Cemetery and the Juneteenth holiday. In partnership with the Social Responsibility Group (SRG) and the Friends of Douglass Cemetery.
- Washington Revels Jubilee Voices Concert – Singing the Journey: Juneteenth Joy: Monday, June 19, 2 p.m. at Market Square (300 King Street) — Enjoy traditional African American songs of struggle and freedom with the Washington Revels Jubilee Voices ensemble. The ensemble is committed to the preservation of African American history and traditions – presenting songs and stories of struggle and perseverance, trials and triumphs, as expressed through a cappella music, drama, and dance. Inaugurated in 2010, the group now performs regularly at heritage sites throughout the Washington D.C. area, singing, sharing, and learning the stories of the people in those communities. Event is weather dependent.
The Alexandria Black History Museum is also hosting extended hours on Monday, June 19, from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. At 10 a.m., the museum is hosting a storytelling event with Alexandria Living Legend Lillian Patterson.
There are also self-guided tours around Alexandria for locals hoping to explore more of the city’s Black history.
Audrey Davis, executive director of the Alexandria Black History Museum (902 Wythe Street), has been tapped to lead the city’s new African American History division of the Office of Historic Alexandria (OHA).
Davis has been a leader in the city’s efforts to preserve Black history in Alexandria, starting as a part-time curator with the city in 1993. The city has made significant strides in recent years to better present the city’s Black history, from the opening of the Freedom House Museum to guided tours of the Parker-Gray neighborhood.
“Audrey is the Dean of Alexandria Black History,” said Mayor Justin Wilson. “Elevating her role reflects the reality of how Alexandria has broadened the history we interpret and ensure that every Alexandrian can see their stories in what we learn and discover together.”
City Council member John Chapman said Davis’ past experience has shown she could be integral in helping the city tell the complex histories of sites around Alexandria.
“I’m super excited to see Audrey lead that division,” said Chapman. “Giving her the opportunity to interact with all of our museums and ensure that, not just African American experience, but all of the people’s experience at different sites. We have places where history is layered on history.”
Chapman said he hopes Davis can help lead a “systemic change” in how the city’s history is explored and presented.
The full release is below:
The City of Alexandria is pleased to announce that Audrey P. Davis has been named the Director of the African American History division of the Office of Historic Alexandria (OHA). Davis joined the City in 1993, beginning as a part-time curator and most recently serving as the Director of the Alexandria Black History Museum (ABHM) located at 902 Wythe Street.
Since 1982, the role of OHA has expanded beyond the walls of its museums to historic interpretation of the whole City. The African American History division is a part of a larger reorganization of OHA, which will prioritize resident outreach, improve visitor experience, and regularly engage residents in City initiatives. This new division will ensure the continued inclusion of Black History in City museums and public programming, as well as advancing the City’s goal of building a welcoming community through equity and inclusion.
Davis has served as a public steward for the City’s African American history nationwide and overseas. In 2021, the ABHM was awarded a prestigious grant by the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences (IMLS) which is aiding in the digitization of the City’s Moss Kendrix Collection. Recently, her work with the Freedom House Museum located at 1315 Duke Street was profiled in Preservation Magazine’s Winter 2023 issue.
Parker-Gray native Michael Johnson, who recently won the Alexandria Historical Society’s T. Michael Miller award for his work raising awareness of issues with the Douglass Memorial Cemetery, is hosting a tour of the neighborhood on Saturday, May 20, from 10-11 a.m. Johnson will be accompanied by an 80-year-old Parker-Gray resident who can help tell some stories from the neighborhood’s history.
Johnson said the goal of the tour is to familiarize residents of the neighborhood and others interested in Alexandria’s history with some of the overlooked stories of one of the city’s most prominent centers of Black history.
“People don’t know [Parker-Gray] at all,” Johnson said. “A lot of the African-American history in this city has been overlooked.”
Johnson said while new residents are encouraged to come and learn more about the history of the neighborhood, many already-established residents may not be aware of the significant historical events and people associated with the neighborhood.
“We’re already losing [that history],” Johnson said. “These kids didn’t learn this history. I didn’t learn this until I was in my 40s.”
Johnson said the tour will cover the Parker-Gray School, the Alexandria Black History Museum (originally a segregated library), and the home and offices of Samuel Tucker — a local civil rights leader.
The tour is free, but advance registration is required.
The Alexandria Black History Museum (902 Wythe Street) is reopening this weekend with a new exhibit dedicated to Alexandria’s response to the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement.
The new exhibit is called “The Legacy of George Floyd: the Black Lives Remembered Collection.” The formerly virtual exhibit is set to premiere at a reception on Sunday, Feb. 26, from 2-5 p.m.
“The Office of Historic Alexandria invites you to the reopening of the Alexandra Black History Museum and the new exhibition documenting the community’s response to the murder of George Floyd and the ongoing work of preserving the names of those Black lives lost and ensuring that they are remembered,” the museum said in a release.
A presentation on the upcoming exhibit highlighted photographs from vigils around Alexandria and collected statements from those involved in the protests and local officials.
According to the exhibit’s website:
The Alexandria Black History Museum is dedicated to not only collecting the story of Alexandria’s past, but also documenting its present for future generations. Following the tragic murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, the Alexandria Black History Museum put out a call to the community to record their feelings, thoughts, artwork, photographs, and objects that would help us to document the legacy of the Alexandria community’s response to this tragedy and the wave of peaceful protests and vigils that followed. The objects and digital photographs that we received from the local community form the basis of the Museum’s new Black Lives Remembered Collection.
Nearly three years after Alexandria’s Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) launched a program to create reparations and research related to Black Americans enslaved or compelled to work at the school, a new lecture program this week is scheduled to look at what kind of progress has been made on that front.
On Wednesday, March 30, the Alexandria Historical Society, the Alexandria Black History Museum and the Alexandria Community Remembrance Project are hosting a virtual lecture to examine what that program has accomplished since it launched in September 2019.
“In September 2019, Virginia Theological Seminary announced the creation of a reparations endowment fund and the intent to research, uncover, and recognize African Americans who toiled under the oppression of VTS during slavery and throughout the Jim Crow era,” the city said in a release. “The March 30th lecture looks at the program’s progress providing reparations to descendants since March 2021’s lecture and overview.”
Ebonee Davis, an associate for Multicultural Ministries Programming and Historical Research for Reparations with VTS, is scheduled to present some of the program’s findings and speak with one of the descendants who received reparations about the program’s impact.
The program is scheduled for 7-8:15 p.m. and is free, but advance registration is required.
A marker will be unveiled in front of NBA trailblazer Earl Francis Lloyd’s childhood home in Alexandria.
The city announced today (Friday) that the historical state marker will be at 1020 Montgomery Street and an event will be held for its unveiling, featuring remarks from Mayor Justin Wilson, Kevin Lloyd, son of Earl Loyd, and others.
The unveiling will take place between 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. Saturday, April 2, according to a news release.
The history of Lloyd’s NBA career is outlined in the release and can be read below.
Earl Lloyd was born in Alexandria in 1928 to Theodore Lloyd Sr. and Daisy Lloyd. At Parker-Gray, Lloyd played on the basketball team and earned All-South Atlantic Conference honors three times, and All-State Virginia Interscholastic Conference honors twice.
Earl’s defensive prowess earned him the nickname “Moon Fixer” due to his size and shot blocking ability. His success led to a scholarship in 1946 to West Virginia State, which he led to two Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association championships. In 1949 and 1950, the Pittsburgh Courier named him to its All-American team.
After graduating in 1950, Earl was drafted by the Washington Capitols. He was one of only four black players drafted to the NBA that year. Due to a scheduling coincidence, his start on Oct. 31, 1950, made him the first African American to play in an NBA game. He achieved that honor one day before “Chuck” Cooper played for the Boston Celtics and four days before Nat Clifton played for the New York Knicks.
After playing only seven NBA games, Lloyd was drafted into the army during the Korean War. After two years in the army, he returned to the NBA in 1952 with the Syracuse Nationals, following the dissolution of the Capitols in 1951. Earl played six seasons with the Nationals, winning the championship in 1955 alongside Jim Tucker. Lloyd and Tucker were the first two African Americans to win an NBA championship. Lloyd passed away in 2015.
George Washington’s Mount Vernon releases first 18th century-inspired beers — “George Washington’s Mount Vernon is releasing its first 18th century-inspired beer. The first two releases are Mount Vernon Virginia’s Porter and Mount Vernon Rye Cask Aged Porter.” [Alexandria Living Magazine]
Audrey Davis talks about museums and black history in Alexandria — “Audrey Davis, director of the Alexandria Black History Museum, stops by Speak Easy this month.” [Alexandria Times]
Zebra profiles local Indian restaurant — “Our dinner at Dishes of India, 1510-A Belleview Blvd., had lots of curry with lots of savory spices. Indian food also varies by region, much like American food. Dishes of India features northern Indian food with a smattering of other regions.” [Zebra]
Virginia State University student from Alexandria dies after shooting — “Police say a Virginia college student has died after a shooting at an apartment building.” [WTOP]
The new opening of the Freedom House Museum (1315 Duke Street), a museum dedicated to telling the stories of the victims of slavery trafficked through Alexandria, has been pushed back to a full year after its original planned opening.
The city said the museum is now expected to open to the public in spring 2022.
“Currently closed for repairs, the building has undergone a preliminary restoration and the Office of Alexandria looks forward to opening the building to the public with new exhibits in Spring 2022,” the city said in a press release.
The building, once an East Coast hub for the slave trade, had originally been scheduled to open as a museum this spring.
The Office of Historic Alexandria is planning a public presentation on a historic structure report recently completed for the building by consultants. The report includes in-depth research on the architecture and history of the building. The presentation will be made on Zoom next Thursday, Oct. 28, at 4 p.m. with an opportunity for questions after.
To inform the restoration of the historic building, SmithGroup began the study of the building and the Historic Structure Report in February 2021,” the press release said. “This report builds on prior archaeological excavation conducted in 1987, and recent archival and academic research… The Historic Structure Report includes a documentary study of the building’s history, an assessment of existing building conditions, digital drawings of the site changes over time, and recommendations for the building’s restoration.”
But because June 19 falls on a Saturday this year, the City is also recognizing Friday, June 18, as a holiday.
“We should all be looking at ways that we can help our community, especially in the context of a pandemic which has particularly ravaged communities of color,” said Audrey David, executive director of the Alexandria City Black History Museum, in a recent blog post, “Start by exploring the Black History Museum’s Preserving Their Names online only exhibition, released to coincide with the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s murder, which features images of objects and digital photographs from the new Black Lives Remembered Collection.”
The holiday means most, but not all, City employees will have Friday off. Parking restrictions will also be lifted at legal parking spaces throughout the city, however Alexandria City Public Schools will be open.
City-run facilities and services that will be open include:
- The Torpedo Factory Art Center (105 N. Union St.) from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday
- Charles Houston Recreation Center (901 Wythe St.) and the Chinquapin Park Recreation Center & Aquatics Facility (3210 King St.) will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. All other City recreation centers and the Jerome “Buddie” Ford Nature Center (5750 Sanger Ave.) will be closed
- The Alexandria History Museum at The Lyceum (201 S. Washington St.), Gadsby’s Tavern Museum (134 N. Royal St.), and the Alexandria Archaeology Museum (105 N. Union St., Suite 327) will all be open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. All other City museums will be closed
- The Alexandria Transit Company DASH bus service will operate on its regular weekday schedule
- The Potomac Yard Park Interactive fountain
- The Animal Welfare League of Alexandria (4101 Eisenhower Ave.) will be open June 18 and 19, by appointment only. To make an appointment, visit AlexandriaAnimals.org/Adopt-By-Appointment or call 703-746-4774.
- All emergency hotlines will be operational, including the Child Protective Services hotline at 703-746-5800; the domestic violence hotline at 703.746.4911; the emergency services for mental health or substance abuse crisis hotline at 703.746.3401; the adult protective services hotline at 1.888.832.3858 (1.888.83ADULT); and the sexual assault hotline at 703.683.7273.
The following City services are closed Friday: