Hunting Creek History

Hunting Creek History

The Hunting Creek area used to be known as Broomilawn Point, a pleasure garden in the early 19th century for Alexandrians in search of a place to have a good time. According to a 1987 Lloyd House newsletter, the area was a place "where denizens could quaff a toddy, confabulate about local politics or enjoy a portion of ox over an open barbecue."

Broomilawn Point was a contested piece of property, owned by Mayor Robert Hooe but used by rowdy citizens. Early 19th-century copies of the Alexandria Gazette show that Hooe was upset about folks intruding on his area. Several warnings from the mayor appeared in the pages of the Gazette, culminating in an emotional ultimatum July 6, 1802.

"You have accustomed yourselves for sometime past to getting over my fences and treading down my wheat and other grain, and more especially to such as are in the habit of getting into my garden and orchard on Hunting Creek and stealing therefrom my fruit and vegetables," Hooe wrote. "I forewarn you that you will be brought to disgrace and punishment before a court of justice if you do not desist."

Hooe eventually gave in to the madding crowds, opening a tavern in Broomilawn Point. The tavern hosted some of Alexandria's most elegant gatherings, fashionable dinners and raucous dancing parties. In the 1850s, when several railroad companies were eager to build a line through Alexandria, the Manassas Gap Railroad began constructing a line to Jones Point. Workers graded a right of way south of St. Mary's Cemetery, but the project was never completed. One hundred years later, the old railroad right of way was used to construct the Capital Beltway.

Generations of Alexandrians knew Broomilawn Point as a pleasure garden, but the fun stopped in the 1860s. When the city was occupied by Union forces, the townsfolk fled. The port city became a ghost town, its wharves converted to wartime production and its churches stripped bare — transformed into makeshift hospitals. The trees at Broomilawn Point were felled as Battery Rogers was constructed to protect the occupation forces.

In 1882, when a smallpox outbreak threatened the health of the city, Broomilawn Point became a quarantine area. Men, women and children succumbed to fever, chills and vomiting associated with the rapidly spreading virus. Eventually, after the outbreak succumbed, industry called.

In 1884, local businessman Peter Pulman built a brickyard on Broomilawn Point. At the height of its operation in 1896, 50 men worked for an average of $800 a week. The brickyard made 60,000 bricks a day — and most Old Town homes that were built in the late 19th century and early 20th century were built with bricks that were made here.

A fire leveled the brickyard in 1919, bringing an end to the company. Hunting Terrace was built in 1943, and Hunting Towers were built in 1950.