Walking Back in Time – Alexandria, Virginia

On my trip to Arlington National Cemetery as part of the Wreaths Across America event I visited Alexandria, Virginia, George Washington’s hometown. Founded 1749, Alexandria’s colonial architecture remains as charming today as it must have been over 200 years ago. In the cold wind that day I could hear patriot whispers of great discussion, faint laughter of shoppers, and echoes of children playing while I walked down the cobblestone streets. I felt I was walking back in time.
The Old Presbyterian Meeting House, organized 1772, was my first stop. The churchyard contains many patriot graves, along with the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of the American Revolution. The chiseled epitaph reads: “Here lies a soldier of the Revolution whose identity is known but to God. He was an idealism that recognized a Supreme Being, that planted religious liberty on our shores, that overthrew despotism, that established a people’s government, that wrote a Constitution setting metes and bounds of delegated authority, that fixed a standard of value upon men above gold and lifted high the torch of civil liberty along the pathway of mankind. In ourselves this should exist as part of ours, his memory’s mansion.”
I thanked our patriots for their devotion, courage and sacrifice to establish freedom of the United States of America.
I walked on to Gadsby’s Tavern, circa 1785, and adjoining City Hotel (1792) for lunch. The City Hotel is now the restaurant, while the tavern serves as a museum. The tavern was the center of political, social and cultural life in Alexandria, serving many American independence founders including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison and James Monroe. I lunched on authentic colonial fare in the very rooms which held birthnight balls for George Washington and an inaugural party for Thomas Jefferson.
After lunch, I walked to George Washington’s Town House, built in 1769. The structure had been razed in 1855 and rebuilt in 1960 on its original foundation. It is now a private home. A neighbor decorating his front door for the holidays explained that the back of his home had been Washington’s original kitchen/slave quarters. Can you imagine living in such a historical home?
Alexandria City Hall and Market Square on King Street once was the site where Washington drilled his soldiers. It’s now home to city government and one of the nation’s oldest continually operating farmer’s markets, established in 1753. Unfortunately, I was there a day too soon for the market.
My final stop was the Christ Episcopal Church where most of our U.S. presidents have worshiped at least one time. I was greeted by a DAR sister who graciously told me the history of the church, which was completed in 1773. I sat in Washington’s private boxed pew, the only one preserved in its original state. I also sat in Robert E. Lee’s boxed pew.
There wasn’t enough time to visit the many beautiful, historical sites. Which begs another trip to Alexandria. A wonderful Christmas present this trip was, indeed.


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