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The Fort Ward Museum is planning to reopen next weekend with a live cannon fire demonstration to kick things off.

While many of Alexandria’s museums and historic have reopened over the last few months, Fort Ward remained closed for renovations to the museum.

An email from the Office of Historic Alexandria noted that the museum will officially reopen on Friday, Oct. 1.

“Fort Ward Museum will resume open hours to visitors in October,” the city said. “The Museum will be open weekly beginning Oct. 1.”

The museum will be open Fridays from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. and on Saturdays from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is free, but donations are welcome.

“Visitors are required to wear masks indoors to comply with City of Alexandria public safety regulations and the number of visitors at one time will be limited to ensure social distancing protocols,” the city said. “The preserved and partially restored Union fort and the Fort Ward Park grounds are open to the public daily and can be visited when the Museum is not open to the public.”

The following day, Fort Ward is scheduled to host a Civil War Artillery Day. Masks and social distancing are encouraged.

“Learn about the role and equipment of Civil War artillerymen in the Defenses of Washington on Saturday, October 2, when Fort Ward Museum presents Civil War Artillery Day,” the city said in an email. “This free living history program is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and will appeal to Civil War enthusiasts of all ages… The program features reenactors from the 1st Connecticut Heavy Artillery, a Union regiment that was stationed at Fort Ward during the Civil War. The unit will interpret the duties and soldier life of typical artillerymen assigned to forts in the Washington area. Activities will include cannon firing demonstrations in the restored Northwest bastion of the fort at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., artillery equipment displays, interpretive talks, and camp life scenarios.”

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Morning Notes

Carlyle Community Survey is open until July 15 — “Do you live, work or occupy a building in Carlyle? Then make sure to take the 2021 Carlyle Commuter survey! Your feedback helps improve our Transportation Management Program, and how we as a community get to and from Carlyle. Survey closes on 7/15. ” [Twitter]

Old Town blood drive on July 26 — “On July 26, Inova Blood Donor Services will be hosting an Old Town Blood Drive at Market Square, 301 King St. As a thank you, donors will receive an exclusive Olympic themed t-shirt. The need for blood is constant and blood banks are anticipating an increase in the need for blood due to the resumption of elective surgeries.” [City of Alexandria]

Recognition of burial grounds at Fort Ward Park to be discussed — “Those attending the July 31 meeting should meet city staff in the parking lot behind Fort Ward Museum. Attendees will walk to the four major burial sites.” [Patch]

Today’s weather — “Partial cloudiness early, with scattered showers and thunderstorms in the afternoon. Storms may contain strong gusty winds. High 92F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 30%… Clear to partly cloudy. Low 72F. Winds WSW at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New job: Temporary enrichment and fitness instructor — “In pursuit of service excellence the Enrichment and Fitness Instructor provides youth, adult, and senior leisure classes at various recreation centers through the City of Alexandria. In this role, you will have the opportunity to ensure that the goals are met to provide a safe, fun, structured and engaging atmosphere for all our customers. Enthusiasm, flexibility and excellent communication skills are needed to be successful in this position.” [Indeed]

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Alexandria is looking for community feedback on the recognition and demarcation of Black cemetery areas and burial sites at Fort Ward Park.

The park at 4301 West Braddock Road, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982, became an African American community after the Civil War. For more than a decade, the city has worked on identifying graves that were part of “The Fort” neighborhood, and made ground-penetrating Radar Surveys in 2009.

Researchers found gravestones just south of the Oakland Baptist Cemetery, “which is a known grave yard surrounded on three sides by Fort Ward Park,” according to a city study. The property was converted from a Black neighborhood to a park in the 1960s, and includes a number of other scattered graves.

“The presence of a few gravestones, as well as documentary evidence and accounts from oral history interviews, have indicated that there are a number of known and potential grave locations in the park that were part of ‘The Fort’ neighborhood,” the City noted in a study. “However, the exact locations of the burials (some of which are located in a former maintenance yard for the City of Alexandria’s Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities), and the limits of cemeteries on the property have never been determined.”

In 2014, the Alexandria Contrabands & Freedmen Cemetery opened to the public. It is the burial place for about 1,800 Black residents who fled slavery, and was eventually turned into a gas station in the 1950s.

On July 31, staff with the Office of Historic Alexandria will discuss issues and ideas for the possible fencing options for some sites and additional approaches for memorializing sites. The meeting will be held at the museum from 10 to 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 31.

Courtesy Visit Alexandria

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Morning Notes

Inova Alexandria Hospital rezoned to allow Landmark project to move forward — “Inova’s Alexandria hospital campus is now zoned to allow for future residential development, after city council voted 7-0 to allow the rezoning to make it easier for Inova to sell the Seminary Hill hospital land to a developer.” [Alexandria Living]

New Harris Teeter grand opening set in Alexandria — “A new Harris Teeter grocery store in Alexandria is holding a grand opening on Wednesday, June 23 beginning at 8 a.m. at 4550 King St., in the West Alex development at the corner of King and Beauregard streets.” [Alexandria Living]

Little Theatre of Alexandria presents ‘Will Rogers’ USA’ at Fort Ward Park on July 3 — “Covid-19 is not keeping the Little Theatre of Alexandria down! LTA is coming back in 2021 even stronger than ever, and to prove it, they are presenting a delightful (and free!) evening of Will Rogers’ USA, in the Fort Ward Park Amphitheater off West Braddock Road, Alexandria, 7 pm, July 3.” [Zebra]

Today’s weather — “Mainly sunny (during the day). High 77F. Winds NE at 5 to 10 mph… Clear skies (in the evening). Low 57F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New job: Server at Cafe 44 — “Café 44 is a stylish American eatery situated along the Waterfront in Old Town Alexandria. We cater to a local crowd, attracting those who appreciate a spectacular view, quality food, great wine and craft cocktails. Whether you are a regular or a first-time guest, you are received with warmth and enthusiasm. Known as a hidden gem, we’re the ideal place to gather with family and friends.” [Indeed]

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After months of being closed during the holidays, a number of museums in Alexandria will be open to the public starting this Thursday, March 25.

The Alexandria Archaeology MuseumAlexandria History Museum at the LyceumFriendship Firehouse Museum and Gadsby’s Tavern Museum will open with modified hours, capacities, and advance ticket requirements, according to the city.

This follows a closure over the holidays during a surge, which ended up closing a number of museums.

“For the safety of museum staff, volunteers and guests, visitors are expected to follow the requirements of Executive Order 72 and the City mask ordinance,” the city advised. “Everyone ages 5 and older is required to wear masks that fit snugly over their nose and mouth at all times; to keep 6 feet of physical distance between households; and to wash hands or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% ethyl alcohol frequently.”

The following museums are still closed:

  • Alexandria Black History Museum (closed for renovation)
  • Archives and Records Center
  • Fort Ward Museum and Historic Site (closed for renovation)
  • Freedom House Museum (closed for renovation)
  • Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum

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Details have emerged regarding a shootout in the West End on Sept. 13.

At around 5 p.m., Alexandria Police received several calls reporting 10-15 gunshots fired in the 3100 block of S. 28th Street near Ft. Ward Park. Callers told police that a man in a black Mercedes Benz was shooting a gun while driving from S. 28th Street onto N. Hampton Drive, according to a search warrant affidavit.

“One of the callers told police that he had just been shot at the intersection of N. Hampton Drive and N. Van Dorn Street while operating his vehicle,” notes the affidavit.

The 33-year-old man was shot in the stomach and was later released from the hospital.

Two adult males have been arrested and the investigation is ongoing.

Bullets hit an apartment building in the 4700 block of West Braddock Road, and a responding officer “observed a Black Male suspect holding a dark colored semi-automatic handgun and pointing it in the direction of King St.,” according to an affidavit.

One of the witnesses identified 19-year-old Terrell Talley in a police lineup, and he was later arrested and charged with shooting into an occupied dwelling and discharging a firearm in a public place. Talley is being held without bond. Police also arrested 18-year-old Adham Heiba and charged him for the same offenses.

A witness at the scene was about to take his daughter to Fort Ward Park, and was in the garage of his apartment complex near Ford Road and N. Hampton Drive when he heard four gunshots, according to police. Then, while driving his daughter to the park he saw a gunfight between a black sedan and a light-colored sedan near Braddock Road and N. Hampton Drive. The man told police that the black sedan was swerving in traffic while shots were being fired.

Officers found a victim and his girlfriend at West Braddock Road and N. Van Dorn Street. The man was bleeding from the head, and his girlfriend reported to police that they were driving their Hyundai Elantra eastbound on W. Braddock Road when “a car pulled up and began shooting at them from the left lane,” according to an affidavit.

Witnesses told police that an older model black Mercedes, a blue jeep, a maroon Lincoln sedan and white Volkswagen Jetta were involved. The driver of the Jetta is described as a teenage Black male with faded black hair on the sides and twists on top. The owner of the maroon Lincoln later called police and reported that her car was involved in a shooting and had “multiple bullet holes,” according to the affidavit. The car was impounded.

There have been an increasing number of shootings in Alexandria in recent months. Police are expected to provide an update this week on Part I crime a well as on the recent spat of evening shootings.

Map via Google Maps

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Alexandria Police are investigating a number of crime events that occurred during late night hours over the weekend all over the city.

A man was seriously injured in a robbery in the 2500 block of North Van Dorn Street near Ft. Ward Park. The incident occurred at around 1:30 a.m. on Sunday, September 27. A man was robbed and assaulted by gunpoint by an unknown man and woman. Personal items were taken, according to police.

The previous day, a man was seriously injured by several suspects in the 5400 block of Sheffield Court in the West End and was later transported to the hospital.

“We were very busy over the weekend responding to calls for service,” Alexandria Police spokesman Lt. Courtney Ballantine told ALXnow.

A man was also shot in a home invasion early on Sunday morning in Del Ray, and there were calls for shots fired in Old Town and the West End on Friday and Sunday evenings.

This week, police announced they will release year-to-date Part I crime data and information regarding the multiple calls for shots fired in recent months.

Sheffield Court and N. Van Dorn Street Maps via Google Maps

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As part of a plan to revitalize Fort Ward Park, the City of Alexandria is planning to build a new playground at the site in a more publicly accessible area.

Moving the playground to the southern portion of the site was initially proposed in 2015. An initial design for the new park was released today (Monday) with design expected to continue through the spring and summer. Construction of the new playground is scheduled for Spring 2021.

Some equipment from the existing playground is planned to be carried over to the new site, which is just east of St. Stephens and St. Agnes Middle School. Some of the exterior portions of the site will include play-walls that are an homage to the fort’s bastions.

“In addition to the existing and new playground equipment, we are asked with including ADA compliant seating, picnic tables, a drinking fountain, and accessible parking in this design,” staff said.

The site was also the location of several homes in a black community from the early 20th century before the homes were condemned by the City of Alexandria or purchased for next to nothing to convert the land into the current park, according to the Washington Post. Staff said the playground will mostly be built above-grade so the ground beneath is preserved for future archeological study, though some areas where equipment has to be deeply anchored will be excavated.

“Community members have expressed concern that family cemeteries may be located on the proposed site of the playground,” staff said. “In response, Alexandria Archeology conducted extensive research and found no evidence… that the lots were used to bury deceased family members.”

The public review is scheduled to run until Friday, June 26. Feedback on the project can be submitted via email to [email protected]

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The Office of Historic Alexandria announced this morning (Tuesday) that it will be shutting down immediately and taking most of the city’s museums with it.

“Due to a shortage of staff and volunteers as well as low attendance, the Office of Historic Alexandria (OHA) has decided to close its sites to the public starting March 17,” the OHA said in a statement. “Public programs at OHA sites through April 12 have been canceled or rescheduled.”

The OHA noted in the statement that the office is reaching out to anyone who made reservations for events or tours at the locations to reschedule those.

“Due to the changing nature of the situation, we are not announcing a reopening date at this time and will provide updates on our website,” the OHA said.

According to the statement, the following locations will be closed:

The OHA shutdown is part of a broader sweep of closures across the city, from restaurants to lodgings, as many in the city are self-quarantining.

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Morning Notes

City Releases Multi-Language Coronavirus Fact Sheets — “The Alexandria Health Department has made multiple resources available regarding the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (now called “COVID-19″), and the Department of Community and Human Services encourages residents to read and share this information, especially in communities where languages other than English are primarily spoken, and with vulnerable residents, including those who may not have access to traditional media.” [City of Alexandria]

ARHA Looks to Redevelop Affordable Housing Properties — “Alexandria is now looking to redevelop five of its public housing communities, putting out a call for developers to replace 288 affordable homes around the city while building new “mixed-income communities… The Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority recently issued a request for qualifications for interested developers on the projects, renewing a similar effort launched more than six years ago.” [Washington Business Journal]

Civil War Women’s Day at Fort Ward is March 14 — “The theme of women who disguised themselves as soldiers will be portrayed by interpreters in Union uniform who will share information about the challenges experienced by the hundreds of women who served in the army.  Learn about how the Civil War opened up a variety of work opportunities for women, from home and farm to city and factory.” [City of Alexandria]

Senior Services of Alexandria Names Honorees — “This year’s Senior Services of Alexandria Annual Gala will pay tribute to three individuals who are making a difference in the Alexandria community: Barbara Anderson, Esq., The Honorable William D. Euille, and C. Eugene Steuerle.” [Zebra]

Nearby: Arlington Announces First Coronavirus Case — “Arlington County and the Virginia Department of Health have announced the county’s first ‘presumptive’ case of coronavirus. An individual in their 60s who recently returned from international travel tested positive for the rapidly-spreading disease, the county said… Elsewhere in Northern Virginia, a City of Fairfax resident and a Marine at Fort Belvoir recently tested positive for coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.” [ARLnow]

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