Archeology Begins Along the Waterfront in Old Town Alexandria

Part of: Society for Historical Archaeology 2017

The City of Alexandria is one the more compelling history destinations in the country, due in no small part to the City’s decision to integrate historic preservation into the revitalization and development. After decades of planning and delays from numerous lawsuits, the City moved forward with the redevelopment of its waterfront, beginning with Point Lumley. The waterfront originally consisted of high bluffs overlooking the Potomac, stretching northwards from this Point along a shallow crescent-shaped bay. By 1798, these high bluffs had been cut down and spread out on the tidal flats in order to improve access to the deep-water channel. Point Lumley was the location of numerous industries, warehouses and residences during the late 18th and 19th centuries, including shipbuilders, blacksmiths, carpenters, coopers, iron foundries, and commission merchants. This session focuses on the recent archeological work at the Hotel Indigo site that was required by the City prior to redevelopment.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-6 of 6)

  • Documents (6)

  • The Alexandria Archaeological Protection Code: Managing Archaeology within the Framework of City Development (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Benjamin A. Skolnik.

    Archaeological investigations at 220 S. Union Street are just the first of a series of upcoming excavations along Alexandria’s historic Waterfront. On November 18th, 1989, the City Council of Alexandria, Virginia adopted the one of the first local archaeological protection ordinances in the country, which requires an assessment of the potential archaeological significance prior to "ground disturbing activity" in the City. This framework provides an environment through which Alexandria...

  • #Archeology: Loose Lips Save Slave Ships? (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only boyd sipe.

    The discovery of the hulk of an 18th-century sailing ship during archeological excavations at the Hotel Indigo site in the City of Alexandria, Virginia attracted the attention of local, national and international corporate media and trended on social media sites. Reflecting on this project’s 15 minutes of fame and media attention associated with other recent high-profile archeological projects in the Washington D.C. metro area, various issues including unequal access to media, knowledge, and...

  • Hidden Along the Waterfront: Overview of Site 44AX0229 (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only John Mullen.

    Improvements to the Alexandria waterfront began soon after the town was established in 1749.  By 1798, the tidal flats along the Potomac River had been infilled and the new shoreline was dominated by wharves and warehouses.  Archeological excavations at the Hotel Indigo site along the orginal shoreline, revealed evidence of this engineered infilling: the remnants of a bulkhead wharf and a late-18th century ship that were used as a framework to create new land. The foundations of one of the...

  • Hold Fast to Your Timbers: The Documentation and Analysis of the Wood and Iron Fastenings From the Late 18th Century Alexandria Ship. (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only J. Lunze. S. Colebank. H. Sprinkle. F. Bromberg. E. Breen. R. Reeder. George Schwarz.

    In April 2016, members and volunteers with The Virginia Maritime Heritage Society, Alexandria Archaeology, as well as Underwater Archaeology Branch of Navy History and Heritage Command documented 141 treenails, and 67 iron fastenings to further study of the 18th century Alexandria Ship.  Archaeology staff and volunteers collected sample data from fastenings present on the surviving timbers to allow for a unique look at the life of this ship before its purposeful deconstruction.  The fastenings...

  • Privy to the Past: Refuse Disposal on Alexandria’s 18th Century Waterfront (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Elizabeth Waters Johnson.

    While the discovery of an 18th century ship on the site captivated the media and public….just a few feet away we quietly worked to excavate another exciting find…a public privy. The large privy, one of four uncovered at the site, was located fifteen feet from the 1755 Carlyle warehouse, and is thought to be associated with this first public warehouse in Alexandria. Thousands of seeds, ceramics, glass, shoes and other unique finds provide a window into the lives of these early residents that...

  • That’s a lot of wood: Excavations of the 1755 Carlyle Warehouse in Alexandria, Virginia. (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Daniel Baicy.

    In 1755, the Board of Trustees of the City of Alexandria, tasked prominent merchant, Thomas Carlyle with providing the Alexandria with a public warehouse.  The warehouse, once built, would be rented out to various merchants on behalf of the town for several decades.  The well preserved foundations of one of the earliest public buildings in Alexandria was uncovered beneath nearly 10 feet of building debris along Alexandria’s waterfront. The following is a brief history of the warehouse, the...