Our History


The Carlyle House on the 100 block of North Fairfax Street

A Thumbnail History of the Historic Alexandria Foundation

The Historic Alexandria Foundation was incorporated in 1954 "to preserve, protect and restore structures of historic and architectural interest in and associated with the City of Alexandria, Virginia, to preserve antiquities and generally to foster and promote interest in Alexandria's heritage."

The Foundation carried out the city's first survey of early buildings, later published as Historic Alexandria, Street by Street: A Survey of Existing Early Buildings. This scholarly book was edited by the late Ethelyn Cox, who supplemented the architectural field work with deed research on the chain of ownership of the properties presented. Parts of the survey were also published in conjunction with the Department of Planning of the City of Alexandria as an Historic Chart, Alexandria, Virginia.

During the era of federal urban renewal programs, which threatened the demolition of large swaths of the oldest parts of the city, the Foundation and the Old Town Civic Association were successful in lobbying efforts that limited the destruction to three blocks along King Street. At that time, the Foundation initiated a program of marking early historic buildings with oval bronze plaques. The plaque initiative continues today as a program that recognizes 100 year old buildings which retain an integrity of historic architectural features.

Preservation and restoration of the Lyceum, Lloyd House, Athenaeum, Carlyle House and Boyhood Home of Robert E. Lee, to name but a few, were spearheaded by the Foundation. It has provided funding over the years toward the preservation of most major museum properties in Old Town, including our recent project, the Alexandria Academy. The Foundation owns an inventory of historic furniture, china, silver and other decorative arts, as well as photographs, prints and Alexandria memorabilia. This is placed on loan in the various museum houses in the city to assist in their interpretation of the city's past.

In 1989, we inaugurated the Historic Alexandria Preservation Fund. Proceeds from our major fund raiser, the Historic Alexandria Antiques Show, held in November of each year, provide income for the Fund, which subsequently awards grants to a broad array of preservation projects. Grant applications are judged by a committee once a year. Grants have funded architectural surveys of historic buildings in the Rosemont and Del Ray neighborhoods, assisted in the restoration of the City's museum buildings, and sponsored research on Alexandria's cultural history.

In 1997, the Foundation established a preservation awards program to recognize outstanding efforts in restoration, conservation, and stewardship of historic properties. Applications are judged by a panel of experts, and awards are presented at the annual spring meeting of the Foundation.

The Foundation, in conjunction with the Department of Historic Resources of the Commonwealth of Virginia and the City's easement commission (the Alexandria Historical Restoration and Preservation Commission), holds historic and open space easements on six important properties, including the Lafayette House at 301 South Saint Asaph, the Benjamin Dulany House at 601 Duke and the Bayne-Fowle House at 811 Prince. Information and legal assistance for the donation of easements is available from the Foundation.

We remain politically alert and in close contact with city officials regarding preservation issues in Alexandria. Our representatives on the City Council-appointed Historic Alexandria Resources Commission and the Archaeological Commission contribute directly to the formulation of public policy in these areas. We regularly comment on proposals before the Board of Architectural Review and the Planning Commission. Educational workshops designed to assist homeowners in caring for their historic properties are presented each year. Our telephone line is always open for advice and consultation.

The Foundation depends upon volunteers to carry out many of its activities. We welcome your membership and active participation. Among the benefits of membership are a subscription to our newsletter, and invitations to the Historic Alexandria Antiques Show Preview and our elegant Spring garden party. More importantly, you will become a part of the Foundation's ongoing work of preserving Alexandria's unique character. Join us in helping to save our cultural heritage for the enjoyment and education of future generations. There is much work to be done, not only in our two established historic districts, but in our many other special neighborhoods as well.

Learn More About the History of the Historic Alexandria Foundation!

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