Spring kicks into high gear

Spring kicks into high gear

Kick Spring fever this Saturday, April 19th, from 10 am to 4 pm, by attending Alexandria’s 75th annual Historic Garden Week tour.  
The oldest continuous tour in the United States features six of Old Town’s historic homes and gardens, open to the public.
Hosted by the Hunting Creek Garden Club and the Garden Club of Alexandria, the first Alexandria House and Garden Tour took place in 1929 to raise funds for the restoration  of the gardens at Mount Vernon. 
This year’s tour benefits the restoration of historic gardens while maintaining ecological integrity of Virginia landmarks.Of special historic interest on this year’s tour is the classic Georgian Craik House built in 1787 for Dr. James Craik, George Washingtons Revolutionary war private secretary and physician. Also on the tour is a beautiful old mansion which, at the outset of the civil war, Robert E. Lee is said to have accepted command of the Confederate Army of Virginia. 
While reflecting the owners tastes and interests, many of the homes have–to an unusual degree–kept original floors, moldings and ornamentation. Walled gardens and intimate courtyards include a wide variety of named roses, specimen plantings, perennial borders, and flowering trees and shrubs.


Venues of historical interest

Admission this Saturday included in Alexandria Tour ticket. No Tour tickets are sold at these locations.

THE LEE-FENDALL HOUSE, 614 Oronoco St. at North Washington St. Built in 1785 by Philip Fendall on land purchased from Revolutionary War hero “Light Horse Harry” Lee, this gracious historic house museum presents an intimate study of 19th century family life. Home to several generations of the famed Lees of Virginia and labor leader John L. Lewis (1937-69). During the Civil War, the building was used as a Union Hospital. The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Guided tours are offered 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday and 1-4 p.m. Sunday.

CARLYLE HOUSE HISTORIC PARK, 121 N. Fairfax St. When Scottish merchant John Carlyle completed his riverfront house in 1753, this was the grandest mansion in the new town of Alexandria. The homes stone architecture and its furniture and decorative finishes reflect Carlyles status and wealth. The Garden Club of Virginia restored the front landscape to the mid-18th century period. A lovely garden with boxwood parterre graces the rear of the house. Guided tours are offered 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 1-4:30 p.m. on Sunday. Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, owner.

RIVER FARM, 7931 East Boulevard Drive, Alexandria. River Farm, headquarters of the American Horticultural Society, is a historic, 25-acre property on the banks of the Potomac River. Features include a historic early 20th century “gentlemans home” and beautiful gardens that showcase the practices and principles of AHS. The property boasts several varieties of gardens and what is considered to be the most spectacular view of the Potomac River that Virginia has to offer. Hours on Saturday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. On weekdays, River Farm is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

GEORGE WASHINGTONS MOUNT VERNON ESTATE AND GARDENS, 8 miles south of Alexandria on the George Washington Memorial Parkway. Situated on the Potomac River, Mount Vernon was the home of George and Martha Washington. From the end of the American Revolution in 1783 to his election to the presidency in 1789, Washington replaced outbuildings, reshaped gardens, created new lawns, planted trees, and even realigned roads and lanes. The new George Washington Pioneer Farmer site features a unique replica of Washingtons 16-sided barn and farming principles.

With funding from Historic Garden Week, The Garden Club of Virginia has helped to restore Mount Vernons bowling green, one of the major landscape features on this vast plantation. Guided tours available 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. daily. The Mount Vernon Ladies Association, owners.

WOODLAWN, 9000 Richmond Highway, 3 mi. west of Mount Vernon at the intersection of Rt. 235 and US Rt. 1. This Federal mansion was built on 2,000 acres that George Washington carved from Mount Vernon when his wifes granddaughter Nelly Custis married his nephew Lawrence Lewis. Designed by Dr. William Thornton, the first architect of the United States Capitol, this lovely house contains fine Federal period furnishings, many brought from Mt. Vernon. The garden was restored by The Garden Club of Virginia in 1958-60. Open 10 a.m. 5 p.m. The National Trust for Historic Preservation, owner.

GUNSTON HALL PLANTATION, 15 mi. south of Alexandria off US Rt. 1 on Rt. 242. This 550-acre National Historic Landmark was the home of author of the Virginia Bill of Rights, George Mason (1725-92). The estate consists of a Georgian mansion and reconstructed kitchen, dairy, laundry and schoolhouse. The brick mansion exhibits elaborately carved woodwork and furnishings of the Colonial and Federal periods. The Garden Club of Virginia restored the gardens in 1949-53 around Masons original boxwood allee and has assisted in research to provide additional insight into George Masons 18th century garden. Open 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.