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Morning Notes

The legend of the burning bride — “Autumn is not only the season for brisk weather, mahogany and burnt orange color combinations and pumpkin bread with apple cider – it’s also the time of year when Alexandria’s spookiest ghost tales emerge from the shadows to take center stage.” [Alexandria Times]

Alexandria couple creates new non-alcoholic wine — “Michelle and David Toothman found a way that you can have your wine and drink it too but without the negative side effects.” [Alexandria Living Magazine]

Prince Street goes all-out for Halloween — “Several homes near the intersection of Lee and Prince Street are completely decked out in spooky decor including dozens of skeletons of all sizes and types, including humans, dogs, horses and at least one cyclopes unicorn of some kind.” [WUSA]

City offers sandbags to combat flooding — “The City will provide free sandbags to residents and businesses… Friday, October 29, from 7 to 9 a.m. at 133 S. Quaker Lane. Sandbags will be available on a first-come, first-served basis, with a limit of five sandbags per address.” [City of Alexandria]

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Alexandria has a rich tradition of ghost sightings. Stories of paranormal experiences have been passed down and enthralled and terrified listeners for generations.

But where have these sightings occurred? Many buildings in and around the city dating as far back as the Colonial Period have added to that rich tradition of spooky stories.

Below is a list of four reportedly haunted houses in Alexandria, inside of which anyone in search of ghosts can try their luck. Are you brave enough?

The John Douglas Brown House

This property, also known as the Fawcett-Reeder House, located at 517 Prince Street, has stood since it was first constructed in 1772. According to the website Virginia Haunted Houses, in addition to boasting having been visited by George Washington during his lifetime, witnesses visiting the house have claimed to have sighted apparitions that appear to be Revolutionary War-era soldiers.

The Lee-Fendall House

Located on 614 Oronoco Street, the house served as a hospital during the Revolutionary War. Beginning as the former home of Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee until he sold it to his relative Phillip R. Fendall in 1784, many stories of spectral occurrences have come out of this place which includes sightings of a female aspiration dressed in period nurse’s clothing, a woman and child who appear on the back stairwell, and the unusual sound of an antique telephone, according to Haunted Places.

The house has served as a museum since 1974 and was featured on an episode of the SYFY Channel’s Ghost Hunters. The house is open for tours and events so if you decide to rent the place for a celebration, expect a few unexpected guests to attend the festivities.

The Ramsey House

Located at 221 King Street, this 18th century building was the home of William Ramsey, and currently serves as a visitor center for the City of Alexandria.

Ramsey was a Scottish merchant, a city founder, and served as the lord mayor of Alexandria. Many stories of ghostly manifestations have included sightings of male specters that may be that of Ramsey himself, or of another his relative Dennis Ramsey. This spirit has been reported to be found on the upstairs floor looking out the window, according to Haunted Houses.

Other spirits supposedly inhabiting the house include the wives of the Ramsey men, all of whom are dressed in 18th-century clothing and can be found roaming the basement.

Gadsby’s Tavern

Possibly the most well known location for spectral happenings in Alexandria, the building at 138 North Royal Street has been a presence in the city since being built in 1785. The location is known for having been visited by many of the founding fathers but is also known for a certain long-term resident. Famously known as the “Female Stranger“, observers have speculated the identity of this spirit to be wide of a bill-hopper, a con artist, and even the daughter of Aaron Burr, Theodosia.

Regardless of her identity, the stranger has been reported to be a gentle soul dressed in an evening gown who likes to crash events in the ballroom. Other reports have found her walking in the hallways, waiting to be seated in the dining hall, and in her old hotel room, room number eight.

The Tavern still operates today and chances are good that the curious may get to have a face-to-face encounter with the Female Stranger herself, especially if everyone is having a good time.

If you’d like a guide to Old Town’s haunts, there are ghost tours available through Alexandria Colonial Tours.

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Alexandria brewery Port City Brewing is bringing back an ale next week at an event that marks the anniversary of one of the city’s most famous urban legends: the Female Stranger.

The event is scheduled for next Thursday, Oct. 14, from 3-9 p.m. at Port City Brewing (3950 Wheeler Avenue). For every 16 oz pour, the brewery said $1 will be donated to the Gadsby’s Tavern Museum (134 N Royal Street).

Long Black Veil, which first debuted in 2014, makes its annual return at the event to coincide with the anniversary of the Female Stranger’s death in 1816.

Long story short: a woman arrived sick on a ship in 1816 and her husband swore the local doctor to secrecy about their identity — only inscribing “Female Stranger” on her gravestone after she died in Gadsby’s Tavern on October 14, 1816. Today, visitors still leave flowers at her grave and it’s rumored that she haunts Gadsby’s Tavern. There’s endless speculation about who the Female Stranger was, including suggestions that she may have been Theodosia Burr.

The ale, at least in past years, has been described as piney with citrusy hops that mingle with notes of coffee and dark chocolate, according to the kind of people who describe beers like that. The event is also planned to include a Rocklands Barbeque food truck.

“So toast to the Female Stranger, Alexandria’s most famous urban legend, at Port City Brewing Co, Alexandria’s most famous brewery!” the brewery said in a press release. “Staff of the Museum will be there to tell the tale… and perhaps the famous lady will make an appearance at some point in the evening.”

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