Chamber Celebrates a Century

Chamber Celebrates a Century

The Alexandria Chamber of Commerce will commemorate its 100th anniversary with a series of celebratory events Sept. 11-16. The Chamber will celebrate its centennial anniversary to pay tribute to the significant contributions they have made to the character and quality of life in the City of Alexandria during their 100-year history.

The chamber was founded by local merchants in September 1906, with William A. Smoot Jr. as the inaugural president. Within the Chamber’s first decade, the membership was nearly 700, making it one of the largest chambers in the United States for a city of its size.

Throughout the past century, the Chamber has undertaken many enterprises to benefit both the City of Alexandria and its residents. Early projects included lobbing for street improvements such as signs, house numbers, paving, sidewalks and streetlights to facilitate mail delivery by the U.S. Postal Service.

In 1918, the Chamber looked toward making Alexandria’s government more effective by encouraging a change of city leadership by trustees and aldermen (a holdover from the 18th century) to governing by elected officials and a professional city manager. By 1921, the Chamber’s petition was successful and the next year Alexandria hired its first city manager, Wilder Rich.

In 1947, the Chamber started an annual tree planting campaign to honor their past presidents. This campaign, during which 25 to 40 trees were planted annually, lasted until 1958 when the effort was taken over by the city government. The first of these beautiful shade trees were planted in front of the Kate Waller Barrett Library on Queen Street.

In 1967, the Chamber worked with Del Ray to launch a 30 year revitalization plan for Mount Vernon Avenue, which is culminating next year and in 1999, it started supporting the Small Business Development Center to stimulate the economy and promote new job potential.

IN THE 21ST CENTURY, the Chamber was instrumental in bringing the United States Patent Trademark Office to Alexandria.

During the years, the Chamber has recognized outstanding public service with awards such as the George Washington Leadership medals and the annual Public Safety Valor Awards for local police, sheriff and fire departments.

To salute the Chamber’s Centennial, a weeklong celebration has been planned which will include: a tree planting, a proclamation reading, an Open House with exhibit showing and a finale black-tie dinner dance.

v A 100th Anniversary Open House will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 12 from 5:30 until 7:30 p.m. This event is free to members and will be held at the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce offices, located at 801 North Fairfax Street in Suite 402. Reservations must be made in advance by contacting the Chamber at 703-549-1000.

v A black-tie 100th Anniversary Dinner Dance Celebration on Saturday, Sept. 16 in the ballroom at the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center, located at 5000 Seminary Road. The evening will begin at 6 p.m. with an hour-long reception. Following the reception, there will be dinner and an engaging program highlighting how the Chamber influenced the direction of the community in the past, currently, and identifying plans for the future. Former Mayor Kerry Donley will emcee the evening’s program. Live musical entertainment will be provided by Grooveline following the program until midnight.

Tickets are also available by contacting the Chamber at 703-549-1000 or by visiting www.alex