Opinion — 14 January 2010
Out of the attic

The R.E. Lee Camp Hall at 806 Prince St., a classic Greek Revival with Italianate influences, was built as a residence in 1852. During the Civil War, Union troops seized it and converted it to a hospital. On July 20, 1864, a soldier being treated there fell out of a third floor window and suffered fatal injuries when he struck the iron railing below.

Several years after the war, it became the hall of R.E. Lee Camp Confederate Veterans, established in 1884 and named in honor of Robert E. Lee. Lee, born January 19, 1807 at Stratford Hall, had grown up in Alexandria and studied under teacher Benjamin Hallowell before going to West Point. Lee wrote fondly of Alexandria in 1870, “There is no community to which my affections more strongly cling than that of Alexandria, composed of my earliest and oldest friends, my kind school fellows and faithful neighbors.”

Among those friends and neighbors were men who had served in the 17thVirginia Regiment and founded the R.E. Lee Camp. The R.E. Lee Camp acquired the home at 806 Prince St. as their hall in 1903 and on Confederate Memorial Day in 1906, they posed in front of it for this photo.

Today the Mary Custis Lee 17th Virginia Regiment Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy owns and operates the R.E. Lee Camp Hall museum there. The museum is open to the public on selected days and holds many artifacts connected to Lee and his family. Collection items include his campaign chair, a wooden director’s-style chair presented to the Camp by his son George Washington Custis Lee, a cobalt blue finger bowl from Arlington House once confiscated by the federal government and placed in the National Museum before being returned to Lee’s son and a set of stirrups donated by Lee’s daughter Mary Custis Lee with her letter stating J.E.B. Stuart had given them to her.

Out of the Attic is provided by the Office of Historic Alexandria.

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