The Virginia Trust for Historic Preservation operates the Lee-Fendall House & Garden to promote historic preservation and history education.
When the City of Alexandria was formed in 1749, it happened in response to the desire of several area families to demonstrate the region's economic clout and cultural strength. John West, George Washington and others surveyed the city on the banks of the Potomac, and parceled the town into half-acre lots. The lot at 614 Oronoco Street, now the Lee-Fendall House, was purchased by Baldwin Dade, a local merchant and land speculator. From him, the land passed to Captain Henry "Lighthorse Harry" Lee (Revolutionary War hero and father of General Robert E. Lee) in 1784. He, in turn, sold the land to his cousin, Phillip Richard Fendall of Charles County, Maryland. Today, we choose the name "Lee-Fendall House" to reflect the original relationship between these two men and their contributions to the land and the structure.
From the building of Phillip Fendall's stunning, architecturally significant Maryland Telescope house, through its extensive renovation in 1850-52, its occupation as a Civil War hopsital, and the residence of the nationally significant labor leader John Llewellyn Lewis, Lee-Fendall House stands a witness to two hundred years of Alexandria and American life. Where did the city fathers of Alexandria plan a proper farewell send-off for President George Washington? Where did the first successful, documented blood transfusion in America occur? Who was the silent witness to labor strife and political machinations surrounding the union movement? Lee-Fendall House.
Through the story of the hundreds of people who have lived at this house during its 187 years as a private residence and hospital, visitors learn about the structure and the architectural and technological advancements in American life. The entire spectrum of labor history in America is found in our story as well, from enslaved workers, through local hired help, to union labor. And finally, the contributions made by the people of this house to the City of Alexandria are crucial to understanding and appreciating the distinct position of economic security, cutural agency, and good times to be found here.
Learn about the Fendall family who established the Lee Family presence in Alexandria, about Henry Tate and other enslaved members of the household, about Harriot Cazenove and the transformation of her newly-renovated house into a hospital, about the Downham family and their 20th century modernizations, and finally about John L. Lewis and the cause of union labor in America.
Today, the museum serves several thousand members of the public through tours, educational programs, and social events. Our half-acre garden hosts the general public at no charge, and provides a cool, green oasis in the middle of Old Town Alexandria traffic. We believe that each visitor has something unique to contribute to the site, and that they come wanting to leave with some new knowledge and a new inspiration. Here, we believe that knowledge of the past inspires a brilliant future.
Your support is vital in keeping this museum open, active, and relevant. Donated funds will be used to meet educational, operational, and restoration goals. Please doante generously or find other ways to be involved with Lee-Fendall House & Garden. We are proud to have your partnership in this endeavor!