This is the southern most block of the waterfront plan, a 3-acre spot bordered by S. Union, Duke, the waterfront and Wolfe streets.
Urban Turf’s coverage includes a bird’s eye view. The brick office building at 2 Duke would be renovated. City officials and historians believe it could contain remains from Pioneer Mill.
As an historical nod to a long lost segment, The Strand would be extended, running past 2 Duke and turning right to Union.
The archaeological dig should be fascinating. Ted Pulliam wrote an research piece (“Gunpowder, Flour, Fire and Heirs,” The Alexandria Chronicle, Fall 2007) on the history of this site, which for decades has blocked access to the waterfront
In the dawning days of the seaport city, Robert Townsend Hooe and Richard Harrison built a warehouse and wharf on this footprint. Hooe was the city’s first mayor. The hefty handsome home he built c. 1780 stands proudly at the southwest corner of Prince and S. Lee Street.
Harrison earned fame by defying the British, a series of creative and courageous acts he took in Martinique that helped Alexandria and Baltimore obtain military supplies in 1775.
In 1853, William Fowle and his brother George built Pioneer Mill, a six-story, steam-powered flour plant. Fowle had made his name known across the span of many decades as a businessman and merchant.
The Civil War brought a halt to the plant's productions. If that and the post-war dip in production wasn’t enough, a fire destroyed the facilities in 1897 and properties around it.
In the late 1930s, the Robinson Terminal South rose up on this site. Their ship-to-truck operation brought back the international flavor of the seaport city, and if you've been a reader of The Washington Post, you owe a nod to these folks who loaded the mammoth rolls of newsprint on to the 18-wheelers (Anyone remember "State of Play?").
In his article, Pulliam notes that around 1802, the Strand was extended across Duke down to Wolfe. Part of the renderings show the Strand partially reconnected this way, as well as public space between the mixed use and the river.
Slowly, but surely, the waterfront in Alexandria is coming back to the people, an historical footprint kept away for many, many years. Of course, we have seen a 1950s photograph of a boy fishing in the shadow of a big ship at the terminal.