What an unexpectedly busy summer week in Alexandria. Here’s the rundown.
Our top story was on an Alexandria woman who claims she was roofied at a restaurant on the waterfront on the evening of July 9. A police report has been filed, and no charges have been made.
This week we sat down with acting Police Chief Don Hayes, who said that he’s thrown his hat in the ring with City Manager Mark Jinks to keep the top job. Hayes, a 40-year veteran of the Alexandria Police Department took over after the sudden departure of Chief Michael Brown last month, and will have to contend against candidates in a national search.
The Tokyo Olympics also start this week, and the games will include three T.C. Williams High School graduates — sprinter Noah Lyles, high-jumper Tynita Butts-Townsend and boxer Troy Isley. In fact, Lyles just had a comic book biography published in the Washington Post. If you’re a fan of the Olympic games, check out this list of local restaurants celebrating with special events and meals.
- Pot enthusiasts quiet in early days of legalization in Alexandria
- Alexandria sees 90 COVID cases in July, another death
- Local historians profile former slave in Alexandria who struggled to rescue his family
- Alexandria man caught with gun at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport checkpoint
- New Potomac Yard luxury condo community sells 30% of properties before construction starts
- Testing for Alexandria’s controversial stream restoration work starts next week
- Two years after massive flooding, city moves forward with Holmes Run trail restoration
- Del Ray licensed family counselor completely booked since launching in May
- Alexandria businesses advised to sharpen e-commerce as consumer patterns evolve
- Alexandria swimming pools operating with reduced hours, residents signing waitlists with capacity overload
- Without annual music festival, Del Ray is celebrating with a bar crawl
- Del Ray affordable housing completes long-awaited overhaul
- Woman claims she was roofied at Old Town restaurant
- Residents protest against conditions at West End apartment complex
- Developers eye Beauregard redevelopment with West End upgrades on the horizon
- Former chef at ‘The Alexandrian’ opening new restaurant in Arlandria on Monday
- No injuries after shots fired in Braddock area on Wednesday
- DASH takes lessons from D.C., Baltimore and Oregon in eliminating bus fares
- ‘Call Your Mother Deli’ signs lease in Old Town
- After last month’s Democratic primary, Republican Darryl Nirenberg tops campaign donation leaderboard
- New city health improvement plan aims to fix inequities
- Poll: Have you been to the Winkler Botanical Preserve?
- Lee-Fendall House to throw speakeasy party to finance building repairs
Have a safe weekend!
NOVA Parks pledges $800K to maintain River Farm, if sale goes through — “Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority has taken steps to sweeten the offer it made on the historic River Farm property. Nova Parks Executive Director Paul Gilbert announced that the regional park authority has pledged $800,000 toward maintenance and improvement of the property should the American Horticultural Society, the current owner of River Farm, approve the sale.” [Alex Times]
Alexandria hosting Around the World Cultural Food Festival July 31 — “The biggest outdoor food festival in the D.C metro area will happen on Saturday, July 31. And this year’s edition will be held in Alexandria. Enjoy food, music, and an experience highlighting cultural diversity at Oronoco Bay Park from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.” [Zebra]
Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery dedication ceremony this Saturday — “Join Historic Alexandria in honoring Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial’s inclusion in the African American Civil Rights Network (AACRN). The free dedication will include a wreath laying by the 31st Masonic District, a reading by representatives of the United States Colored Troops (USCT), and remarks by Reverend Taft Quincey Heatley. The ceremony will take place rain or shine.” [City of Alexandria]
Today’s weather — “Except for a few afternoon clouds, mainly sunny. A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible. High near 90F. Winds WNW at 10 to 15 mph… Mostly clear skies (in the evening). Low 67F. Winds N at 10 to 15 mph.” [Weather.com]
New job: Part-time chess coach — “As a chess coach for us, you are the core of what we do! You provide a welcoming environment for elementary school children and instruct them on the game. Typically, you teach a group of 10 – 20 children (ages 5-11). You bring all the equipment (provided by us) and teach according to our curriculum, ensuring that you personalize and adjust your teaching to each kid and each group of kids as needed.” [Indeed]
As the city work to prepare the new Freedom House Museum for opening this fall, local historians are working to put together the stories of families that were trafficked through the slave trading hub at 1315 Duke Street.
Primary sources for the biographies range from ship manifests that show newborn babies taken from their families to newspaper articles from the time. One of the stories highlighted is that of Burdette Washington, who was born into slavery and whose life was cataloged in the pages of advertisements in the Alexandria Gazette and other sources.
“The ads are for hiring out his labor,” the Office of Historic Alexandria (OHA) said in a biography. “This was a common practice, where ‘owners’ made additional income by ‘hiring out’ some enslaved individuals to other households. A similar ad in June 1830 notes he is a ‘good drayman and carpenter.'”
The OHA’s biography says Washington gained his freedom in 1834.
“Quaker William Stabler purchased Washington from William Bell of Culpeper,Virginia for $100 and manumitted (legally freed) Washington,” the OHA wrote. “Stabler, an apothecary with a shop on Fairfax Street in Alexandria, was a prominent member of the local Quaker community. Quakers in Alexandria were active in helping enslaved people purchase their freedom.”
Once he was freed, the OHA wrote that Washington worked to free other members of his family. He was given only three months to raise $100 to purchase his 10-year-old son William Henry, but the son was taken on a slave ship along with 201 others for sale in New Orleans. In 1835, Washington was eventually able to raise the needed funds to save his son.
“Having secured his young son’s freedom, Washington began raising money to purchase his wife and other children’s freedom,” the OHA wrote. “Newspaper accounts from 1838-1840 from Massachusetts and New York recount Washington’s testimony to church groups and Abolition Societies, describing the horror of having his children taken from him. In Nathaniel Southard’s 1838 publication, ‘Why Work for the Slave?’ the author quotes Washington’s reaction to having an 18- year-old daughter taken from him to be sold away: ‘I have not seen or heard of her since. Oh, it hurts me every time I think of it.'”
The fate of his wife and other children are unknown. Washington eventually remarried and was listed as living in D.C. in the 1850 census with her in Ward Seven at the age of 85.
The story of Washington is in keeping with a shifted-focus in the museum that highlights the lives of those who were enslaved rather than emphasizing the stories of their captors.
“Washington’s family story, with its horror of separation and the fight to care for family, captures the experience of thousands trafficked through Alexandria,” the OHA wrote. “Through continued research, more about these people and their lives will come to light.”
Research continues as we use a variety of primary source documents, from census records to court cases, to piece together stories of families trafficked through 1315 Duke. One example is Burdett Washington. Learn more: https://t.co/5tqFwDz39z #FreedomHouseFriday #HistoricALX2U pic.twitter.com/v9P5Rcnem2
— Historic Alexandria (@HistoricAlexVA) July 16, 2021
It’s not 1805, so the local apothecary reopening may not have the relevance it once did, but the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum in Old Town is rejoining several other local historic sites this weekend as it reopens for public visits.
The apothecary at 105 South Fairfax Street was once the go-to spot for medicine, farm equipment, and other necessities. The apothecary was converted into a museum in 1939 and purchased by the city in 2006.
According to the city:
Starting on July 11, the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum will reopen for guests, joining Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, Alexandria Archaeology Museum, and the Alexandria History Museum at The Lyceum, and Friendship Firehouse Museum. Alexandria Black History Museum, Fort Ward Museum & Historic Site, and Freedom House Museum remain closed for ongoing renovations.
The Apothecary Museum will offer two different tour experiences — a self-guided tour for $5 per adult, $3 per child (5-12) of the first floor including a souvenir booklet or a guided tour for $8 per person ages 5 and up of the 2 floors of the Museum. Current City of Alexandria COVID policies will be in effect.
According to the city website, the current exhibit profiles how pharmacies got around the restrictions of prohibition.
Alexandria man charged with storming U.S. Capitol on January 6 — “After storming the Capitol on Jan. 6, a Northern Virginia man began forming his own militia-like group in the D.C. suburbs and building up a supply of explosives under the guise of a Bible study group, according to federal prosecutors. Fi Duong, 27, appeared in court Friday and was released to home confinement pending trial, over the objections of prosecutors who sought stricter terms. According to the court record, at the time of his arrest he had several guns, including an AK-47, and the material to make 50 molotov cocktails.” [Washington Post]
Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial dedication on July 24 — “Join Historic Alexandria in honoring Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial’s inclusion in the African American Civil Rights Network (AACRN). The free dedication will include a wreath laying by the 31st Masonic District, a reading by representatives of the United States Colored Troops (USCT), and remarks by Reverend Taft Quincey Heatley. The ceremony will take place rain or shine.” [City of Alexandria]
New mural in Old Town — “Check out the new mural being painted at ESP Tea and Coffee’s back patio area!” [Twitter]
Today’s weather — “Cloudy skies with periods of rain later in the day. High near 85F. Winds SSW at 10 to 20 mph… Rain early (in the evening)… then remaining cloudy with showers late. Low around 70F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 80%. Rainfall near an inch.” [Weather.com]
New job: Bartender and server at Rock It Grill — “Busy karoake bar, the more experience you have, the more money you’ll make.” [Indeed]
Alexandria will spend millions on emergency financial support programs, stormwater repair, childcare and dozens of other projects as part of its first portion of American Rescue Plan Act funding.
“Now the really hard work begins,” Mayor Justin Wilson said after Council’s unanimous passage of a plan Tuesday night. “I think this is an opportunity to make some transformational investments.”
The City received its first $29.8 million on May 17, and has to spend the total $59.6 million in funding by Dec. 31, 2024. Alexandria is getting substantial funding by being counted as both a city and county — along with 41 other cities across the country — and will get its second allotment in May 2022.
Federal funds will not directly go to individual businesses, but some are allocated toward the funding of business districts for trial street closures, ABC-licensed special events and public access parklets.
“Our thought was that direct assistance for businesses was best provided, and continues to be provided, through the federal government at scale,” Alexandria Economic Development Partnership CEO Stephanie Landrum told Council. “We are much better equipped as a community, and certainly as an economic development group to reach a wider swath of businesses than we ever have been. And so part of our challenge and responsibility is to make sure all of those businesses know about other programs not being provided by the city.”
The 30 projects include:
- $4 million for an Alexandria Community Access and Emergency Support program to determine which city services are eligible for residents, including emergency financial aid, rent assistance and child care
- $3.7 million in stormwater repairs at the Hoofs Run Culvert
- $3 million for a Guaranteed Basic Income Pilot, which will give $500 in gift cards to 150 poor families for 24 months
- $2.8 million for a Unified Early Childhood Workforce Stabilization Initiative to “support hundreds of childcare providers and early childhood educators, provide a safe and healthy learning environment for thousands of children, and help parents, especially women, get back to work.”
- $2.5 million for food security to ensure two years of continual free food distributions at hubs throughout the city
- $2 million for Alexandria Housing Development Corporation flex space to expand city services for the Arlandria neighborhood
- $1.9 million in flash flooding spot improvements throughout the city
- $1.1 million to scale up a workforce development pilot
- $800,000 to make permanent the closure of the 100 block of King Street
- $620,000 to fund the Out of School Time Program to help with learning loss associated with the pandemic
- $560,000 to the Alexandria Economic Development Authority fund commercial business districts for trial street closures, ABC-licensed special events and public access parklets
- $500,000 for Visit Alexandria marketing efforts
- $295,000 to fund two new Office of Historic Alexandria tourism experiences on the city’s history with civil rights and and the Duke Street Corridor
- $253,000 to increase services for LGBTQ and BIPOC communities
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
The story behind Alexandria’s hand-me-down graduation gown — “Five outstanding T.C. Williams High School students, five prestigious universities and colleges, two on-stage graduation performances – and one graduation gown. What began as an unplanned sharing of a typically once-worn garment has become has become an Alexandria tradition.” [Alex Times]
Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial recognized by African American Civil Rights Network — “Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial is the oldest and first site in Virginia to be added to the network.” [Zebra]
New diner coming to Bradlee Shopping Center — “Beeliner Diner will be applying for permits to open at Bradlee Shopping Center in Alexandria, occupying the space that was the Atlantis Restaurant.” [Alexandria Living]
Today’s weather — “Scattered thunderstorms in the morning. Cloudy skies late. High 81F. Winds NW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 50%… A few clouds. Slight chance of a shower throughout the evening. Low 62F. Winds NW at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]
New job: Waxing specialist — “Located in the beautiful Del Ray, Alexandria neighborhood; Waxing the City is the go-to spot for hair removal. Want to work somewhere you are able to perfect your craft, boost client self-esteem, and make great money doing what you love? Waxing the City Alexandria is the place for you! A wonderful blend of talent, dedication, and fun is what made our studio 2017 Rookies of the Year for Waxing the City, and 2017 Best Waxing Studio for Del Ray.” [Indeed]
The discovery of the Old Town Armada was an unexpected boon to Alexandria archeologists. But impressive as it is that so much of the three ships have remained intact after centuries underground, recent archeological work has uncovered an interesting detail on one of them.
Somebody screwed up.
As part of the ongoing study of the ships, the Conservation Research Lab discovered a flaw in the ship’s design that likely handicapped its seaworthiness.
“Creating the model for Ship #2 has exposed an interesting feature associated with the ship’s construction,” the lab reported. “There is a bump in the planking on the starboard side of the vessel. This is because the ship’s carpenters accidentally made five floor timbers too flat in this area but noticed their mistake when they started planking the vessel.”
A dendrochronological study of the timbers on the timbers identified that at least one of the ships was most likely made in the Boston-area and likely used to make cargo runs to the Caribbean. The error was found as the lab was putting together digital and physical models of the three ships.
“The process of creating a digital model entails piecing together individual timber scans to recreate the archaeologically recovered ship remnant,” the lab said. “It is a time-consuming process to ensure that the timbers align correctly and produce a faithful digital model for future study, interpretation, and education.”
The lab reported that to compensate for the error, carpenters likely had to form the hull planking around the bump, creating an S-shape in the hull that made it slightly more cumbersome to sail, which is perhaps why it and two other past-their-prime ships were deliberately buried as part of the waterfront expansion in the 18th century.
“This defect probably affected the vessel’s sailing ability because the bump would have disrupted the hull’s hydrodynamics,” the lab reported. “This 200-year-old foible is not particularly significant in the larger picture, but it does speak to the human capacity to both make and compensate for mistakes.”
Via City of Alexandria
The garden wall of the historic Lee-Fendall House (614 Oronoco Street) in Old Town took a beating earlier this week, but support from the local community has helped put the wall on the road to repair.
A few days after announcing that a significant portion of the home’s wall had collapsed, the home has raised $5,005 to help boost repair efforts.
“On Saturday, June 12, 2021, a 70-foot portion of the original brick wall surrounding Lee-Fendall’s historic garden collapsed,” the museum said on its fundraising page. “Originally built of hand-formed brick in a Flemish bond pattern over a fieldstone foundation and likely constructed by enslaved workers, the wall dates to around the year 1800 and has been an integral part of our historic fabric. It post-dates the construction of our house by only about 15 years and tells an important part of Lee-Fendall’s story and of Alexandria’s.”
The museum raised $1,000 in the first day of the fundraiser. The Lee-Fendall House Museum and Garden has set a goal of $125,000 for the fundraiser, the estimated full-cost for the repair effort. The wall repair is particularly difficult due to the need to have an architectural engineer help plan the repair using the original bricks.
“Museum staff are working closely with Alexandria’s Board of Architectural Review and with local firms specializing in historic masonry preservation on a multi-phase plan to repair the wall,” the museum said. “This will be a major project for the museum, costing over $125,000 in full. Our first and immediate need is for $14,000 in funding to cover the cost of working with an architectural engineer on a plan for the repair which uses the original bricks.”
It’s been a tough week at Lee-Fendall, with the collapse of 70 feet of our c.1800 garden wall – but we are so encouraged by the wonderful support and generosity of the Alexandria community. https://t.co/b9mmqIUieZ pic.twitter.com/WBLmeB97Bx
— Lee-Fendall House Museum & Garden (@leefendallhouse) June 23, 2021