With this tenth stop, we are headed into the home stretch with our look at a dozen distinctive and distinguished homes and buildings in Old Town.
806 Prince Street
The R.E. Lee Camp Hall is located in one of the more distinctive houses in Old Town. Oddly, however, there are no markers or signs to indicate what’s inside. Every once in a while, passer bys will see two flags flying, to signal their open house.
Previously known as “Confederate Hall,” this Greek Revival house with a wrought iron front porch was built in 1852 as the home of Rev. James T. "Parson" Johnston, rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church.
When I took in a tour last year, the docents were very friendly and helpful. The genteel lady who guided me on the first floor was a descendant of one of the members of the 17th Virginia Infantry Regiment. Many of the boys who marched down Prince to Manassas never returned home to Alexandria.
Dr. Johnston wanted a retirement home that reminded him of his beloved Savannah. Like many large houses in Alexandria, it became a hospital during the war. After the turn of the Century, the Civil War veterans on the Confederate side needed a gathering place and chose this house. The Lee Camp of United Confederate Veterans was established in1884. For many years, the sign outside said “Confederate Hall.”
Today the Mary Custis Lee-17th Virginia Regiment Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy owns the House and operates the R.E. Lee Camp Hall museum there. The three-story house has several single tenants.
Walking into the parlor, one sees large paintings of Lee, Stonewall Jackson and other Confederate officers. Upstairs is the museum with Civil War artifacts such as uniforms, flags, canteens, hats, emblems, a Bible taken from a “Yankee knapsack” and photographs.
As noted, no photography is allowed, but I happened upon Eric Spiegel of Old Town Alexandria Patch, who was given permission. His photo essay is at their website.