Old Town

Working Together. Too often among those of us who live here do we forget to acknowledge the citizen volunteers — those selfless folks who give time and talent to make Old Town special. They did it again the other day.

The Gazette Packet last week told you about City Council's vote Oct. 16 to deny a move by developers to raze the Gunston Hall garden apartment complex in the 900 block of South Washington Street. The issue, raised by preservation groups this summer and fall, dealt with open-space needs, affordable housing (some folks don't like that term, but that's what it's all about), and a section of our region that blossomed even as Old Town reinvented itself following the Depression. In other words, Old Town preservationists thought this a battle worth fighting.

Nothing particularly new in any of this. The citizen volunteers who care do this routinely. But what stood out in the impressive coalition that appeared before City Council Oct. 16 was that such august organizations as the Old Town Civic Association (OTCA), the Historic Alexandria Foundation and the Alexandria Historical and Preservation Commission — among others — came together to oppose the Board of Architectural Review (BAR) decision to allow the demolition of the Gunston Hall apartments. Vice Mayor Del Pepper said before the vote that she'd seldom seen such organized support in opposition to a BAR decision. "It blew me away," she was quoted by a participant.

Our comment as a longtime observer of Old Town politics and the way we do things here: Well done, OTCA. Well done, HAF. Well done, AHPC. Well done, citizen volunteers!

Want Some Swordplay? Then head for Gadsby's Tavern Museum on Saturday, Nov. 6, for a unique living-history program as you learn a skill all 18th-century gentleman must know — swordplay. The program includes re-enactment of 18th-century swordplay and a display and discussion of 18th-century weapons. This popular family event is suitable for all ages and will include participation as you practice your newfound talents. Demonstrations will run from 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m., and each lasts an hour. Cost is $5 per person, and reservations are required. For more information, visit or call 703-838-4242.

New Assistant Director. Speaking of Gadsby's, the Museum has named Lizabeth Weaver Williams as the new assistant director. Liz is a resident of Alexandria and comes to Gadsby’s with a strong background in museum administration and tourism marketing. Her previous position was associate director of business operations at Woodlawn and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Pope-Leighey House. Liz has worked with the National Trust for Historic Preservation and George Washington’s Fredericksburg Foundation. She received her bachelor’s in historic preservation from Mary Washington College and her M.A. in tourism administration, focusing her studies on heritage tourism, from the George Washington University.

At Gadsby's, Liz will be supervising the day-to-day operations of the museum and visitor services staff, as well as marketing the numerous tours and programs to the Alexandria community and out-of-town tourists. Gadsby's Tavern Museum is located at 134 N. Royal St. in the heart of Old Town and is owned and operated by the City of Alexandria.

At the Lyceum . Northern Virginia history and its relationship to the landscape will be the topic of a lecture at the Lyceum, 7:30 p.m. on Nov., 11, presented by the Northern Virginia Association in conjunction with the Lyceum. Eugene Scheel, author and map maker from Waterford, will do the honors. Sponsors note that Northern Virginia’s history is tied to its natural landscape in many ways, and many of those features haven't changed in centuries. This lecture is open free to the general public.

<b1>— Bob Feldkamp