Walking down the brick sidewalk, one has to be careful for the old path is unlevel & easy to trip upon. The street is lined with old brick homes covered in manicured ivy while wavy glass windows peek through the foliage beckoning you to look inside them. Passing one particular home, you are greeted with the romantic flickering of gaslight lamps flanking a solid oak door. They beckon to you as cozy as a best friend's house. I'm in Old-Town Alexandria, Virginia after meeting a friend for lunch, and I'm taking my time strolling back to the car.
I've been transported to a different time, and I'm thinking of the events these brick-lined streets have seen. I'm reminded of my own place in time- my ephemeral nature. I'm slapped in the face with the fact that in another hundred years - I will not be here, but these buildings probably will be. I think this would be the problem with owning a historical home, the home is not entirely yours. The home itself has a history & personality of its own that is shared collectively by the community at large. You must endure strange people walking by & gawking at your home - taking their time, examining all its parts, photographing it, even sketching its architectural details.
I've been interested in historical preservation throughout my design career, because I feel we, as a people, learn history best by experiencing history through objects (be they a large home or a small piece of jewelry) and immersing oneself in a historical setting. Its the same reason I LOVE to read historical fiction because its allows you to explore history on your own terms with your own experience rather than just being spoon-fed random facts that have no personal meaning. Walking in a historical community, such as Old-Town Alexandria, allows one to EXPERIENCE the history and be a part of it. One wonders what smells they smelled, how different would the passers-by look compared to today, and what important people in the history of our nation walked these very same streets. I cringe when ancient & old edifices, in any place, are torn down for the sake of progress or political woe, because we not only lose a part of humanity's history - we lose the ability to experience it. Our collective history is a massive story we hand down from generation to generation to not only teach our children, but so they can learn its lessons & grow to be better than we could ever dream to be. How better to learn these stories than to experience that same history through historical places.
To prepare for your visit here, there is a great book out there written by an author named Ethelyn Cox called, "Historic Alexandria, Virginia, Street by Street: A Survey of Existing Early Buildings." Many consider this a "bible" of sorts for the history of historical architecture in Alexandria, Virginia, and I highly recommend perusing through it if you want to educate yourself before a visit to this very cool city. There are also many great tours you can sign up for upon your visit here from ghost tours to Christmas tours & all those in between, as well. Alexandria Colonial Tours offers many different tours, and there are several other tour companies in the area to choose from, as well. A simple google search would produce many options.
From gaslights and cobblestones to wavy glass and imposing ivy, Alexandria, Virginia has a wealth of historical architecture to experience and enjoy. Immerse yourself in its architecture, its food and its eclectic blend of shops. Trample the bumpy brick paths that once laid way for the birth of a nation and be reminded of the overarching reach of time throughout the generations. A visit to historically entrenched Alexandria is to allow the sights, smells and sounds to permeate your senses and teach a new generation of their place in time, too. Stay up to date on all of my design ramblings by liking us on Facebook at PaperCanvasEtc... or subscribing to this blog. Happy Designing!