Preservation News and Living in Old Town

Gentlemen:  It has long been my intention to invest, at my death, one thousand pounds current money of this State in the hands of Trustees, the interest only of which to be applied in institution a school in the Town of Alexandria, for the purpose of educating orphan children who have no other resource, or the children of such indigent parents as are unable to give it . . . It was also my intention to apply the latter to the sole purpose of . . . that kind of education which would be the most extensively useful . . . Reading, writing, and arithmetic."
Washington's letter of December 17, 1785 to the Trustees of the Alexandria Academy.

The Alexandria Academy was built in 1785 as a private school for Alexandria's children. George Washington endowed a bequest of fifty pounds a year to establish a free school on the third floor. By 1825, a bad economy forced the Trustees to sell the building. Late in the 19th century the City of Alexandria purchased the structure and used it as part of the school system until 1967.

In 1995 the City deeded the Academy to the Historic Alexandria Foundation (HAF). Since that time, HAF has worked diligently to save and restore what is viewed by many to be one of America's most historically significant structures . . . one which so eloquently underscores George Washington's personal commitment . . . "As nothing is of more importance than the education of youth, so consequently nothing can be more laudably beneficial than the association which is formed in Alexandria to effect this desirable purpose." (George Washington to Dr. William Brown)

On July 11th, 1999 the Board of Trustees of the Historic Alexandria Foundation proudly announced the completion of the Academy's restoration. In the ceremony that followed, the Academy joined the ranks of other historic properties HAF has been instrumental in preserving the Lyceum, Lloyd House, Athenaeum, Carlyle House and the Boyhood Home of Robert E. Lee, to name only a few.