When the District was still a glimmer in L’Enfant's eye, Alexandria was already rocking. Named after planter John Alexander, frequented by George Washington and Robert E. Lee, they city’s charms are still intact. You have Reagan airport to the North, the Potomac river to east, The Mason's monolith to the west and the rest of the south heading south. In Old Town you'll find dignified shopping and dining along with kitschy touristy fun on the lower end of King Street. If you like row houses there's a bunch of them here from the Federal period and also plenty of Victorians.
Speaking of the Mason Shrine, here's a shot of it. There are several amazing temples in the DC area constructed by the Freemasons. Construction on the memorial was started in 1923 and it took ten years to build. If you'd like to learn more about it, click
Since the city's history dates back to the late 1600's, you can find plenty of examples of how they built things back in the day. I've done a couple of stories about how the old townhouse can be remodeled on the inside to make them more accommodating to modern times. Some of them are only thirteen feet wide. Some are brick construction, some are wood frame.
The one seen above bears a brass plaque on the gate to the alley that identifies it as a historic property. This usually gives the owner a property tax break in exchange for their pledge not to radically change the building's front facade. It's become a part of the "National Trust."
While many rowhouses are "attached," you can find also find detached examples, or semi-detached like the one above. It's preservation plaque can also be seen just to the right of the door. This is a very modest brick dwelling without any of the adornments typically seen on Victorian-era homes.
Although this is the old part of the city, newer examples of architecture can also be found if you look sharp. Here's what I'm guessing to be an authentic Art Deco building a few blocks from the townhouses. I'm also guessing what used to be there burned or was plowed under before the preservationists had a chance to save it. It could of been an empty lot till the 1920's but the density of the rest of Old Town makes me think this was an early example of urban in-fill. The downstairs is a restaurant, probably offices or maybe apartments are upstairs.
Speaking of Deco, here's another restaurant on King Street that obviously doesn't date from the 1800's. The history on the menu says the upscale diner is housed in an Art Deco-era building but I think it looks more like something from the "International" school. I don't see any of the geometric decorations that usually point to Deco and those "ribbon windows" usually take you straight to the
Old Town Alexandria definitely has a sense of place about it. When you're there you feel like you are somewhere. Although much of the area down by the river has been given over to commercial establishments, it still fells like a neighborhood if you get off the main streets. Cobblestones are used on some streets to slow traffic down and at times if feels a little Disneylandish.
If you can overlook those elements, you can still see what the place used to look like. This is the side of a building that now holds a Christmas store but if you check out this facade you can see what it used to be in Old Town, Alexandria, Virginia.
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architectural travel in Alexandria Virginia.