As we near the end of September, spooky season is creeping up on the horizon for Alexandria.
A series of tours planned for next month blend the eerie Halloween spirit and local history to look at how late 18th century and early 19th century residents processed death.
Every Friday in October, the Carlyle House (121 N Fairfax Street) is hosting tours of the building as it would have looked in mourning for “Death Comes to Carlyle House.”
“In September 1780, John Carlyle passed away and the family would have gone into mourning,” a newsletter from the Office of Historic Alexandria said. “Join us for an evening tour of the house to learn about death and mourning in the 18th century. Tours will be led through the house at 6 p.m., 7 p.m., and 8 p.m.”
Tickets are $12 per person.
Nearby, on Friday, Oct. 14, Gadsby’s Tavern Museum (138 N Royal Street) is hosting a similar tour: “Death at the City Tavern.”
“In 1808, death visited Alexandria’s City Hotel when the curtain fell upon one of theatre’s ‘Brightest Ornaments,'” the newsletter said. “While a guest at the hotel, Anne Brunton Merry Wignell Warren, the most celebrated actress in the U.S., shockingly lost both her infant son and her own life at the young age of 39 in what is now known as Gadsby’s Tavern Museum.”
The tour includes an exploration of phantasmagoria, a cocktail, macabre trivia competition and viewing of the 1910 silent film Frankenstein.
The tour is scheduled for 7-9 p.m. Tickets are $30 per person with a minimum age of 21.
Finally, the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum (105-107 S Fairfax Street) is hosting a tour of the sinister side of medicine. A tour focused on poisons is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 7, from 5:30-6:45 p.m. Tours are $15 per person or $12 for Office of Historic Alexandria members.
“Come explore the sinister side of medicine on the Apothecary Museum’s Poison Tour,” the newsletter said. “This tour explores several different types of poisons, their historic uses at the Apothecary, and what we know today. Recommended for ages 18 and up.”
Children and adults who missed their Hogwarts letter can celebrate Harry Potter’s birthday with a special tour of the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum.
This July 31, the Apothecary Museum will celebrate its annual Harry Potter guided birthday tour with the 25th anniversary of J.K Rowlings’ first wizarding book, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”
The tours explore the apothecary and “the historic muggle medicines that inspired the Herbology and Potions of Harry’s wizarding world,” according to the City.
The Harry Potter tours have been popular for potions-masters-in-the-making for several years. The museum still has all of the original ingredients that were in the pharmacy when it closed in 1933, including cannabis, opium, Dragon’s Blood, Mandrake Root and Wolf’s Bane.
Tours are every 30 minutes from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The City of Alexandria has announced that the long-awaited Freedom House Museum (1315 Duke Street) is scheduled to reopen near the end of this month.
The museum is scheduled to fully reopen on Friday, May 27, with a grand opening event scheduled for Monday, June 20, which is Juneteenth. The opening comes a little over a year after the museum was originally scheduled to reopening.
The new museum is an overhaul of an earlier exhibit at the building, which was once part of the Franklin and Armfield complex dedicated to trafficking Black men, women and children between 1828 and 1861, the city said in a release. Part of the museum’s overhaul is a greater focus on the lives of the victims of slavery rather than a focus on the lives and actions of the slavers.
“The museum will be open to the public Fridays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays and Mondays from 1 to 5 p.m.” the city said in a release. “Admission is $5 per adult, $3 per child ages 5-12, and free for City of Alexandria residents. Due to high demand and limited capacity, it is highly recommended that guests reserve tickets in advance online.”
The museum includes stories from Black Americans who were impacted by the slave trade operating in Alexandria.
The museum originally closed in March 2020 due to the pandemic and, at the end of the month, the City of Alexandria purchased the building from the Urban League of Northern Virginia.
“Throughout the pandemic, work continued to protect and interpret the building including the completion of the Historic Structures Report, research, and the creation of three new exhibits,” the release said. “The Freedom House Museum site is integral to the understanding of Black history in Alexandria and the United States, and is part of Alexandria’s large collection of historic sites, tours, markers and more that depict stories of the Colonial era, through the Civil War and Civil Rights eras, to today.”
The Alexandria Archaeology Museum announced on Twitter that a new exhibit coming to the Torpedo Factory will offer a digital guided tour of one of the ships found buried under Old Town’s waterfront.
In 2018, hulls from three mid-18th century ships were found buried underground during an excavation at the Robinson Landing development. The crown jewel of the archeological discovery, however, was a mostly intact lower hull from one of the ships.
The eventual fate of the ship still remains unknown, with the idea of a new Waterfront Museum having been floated around as a possible home.
The new exhibit won’t take up as much space as the full ship eventually will: it’s opening in Studio #9 on the Torpedo Factory’s first floor.
The exhibit is scheduled to open Friday, April 1, and will be there until June.
View ship construction through the eyes of maritime archaeologists in SeeWorthy a new exhibit highlighting the technology used to digitally reconstruct historic vessels. The exhibit opens on 4/1 in Studio #9, on the 1st floor of the Torpedo Factory Art Center #WaterfrontWednesday pic.twitter.com/5KS8gX2yjp
— AlexVA Archaeology (@AlexArchaeology) March 16, 2022