This is an update to a post I made a couple of months ago. Archaeologists are investigating the block of Union, Duke and Wolfe, where the Robinson Terminal south was located from the 1940s to last summer.
Alexandria has certainly seen some big digs, including the crater-like one at 300, 400 and 500 blocks of King during the Market Square and Tavern Square Urban Renewal redevelopment projects in the 1960s.
On the waterfront, forgotten are discoveries in the 1990s — a fifteen foot long flat bottom boat, sections of the Alexandria Marine Railway and the bulkhead of Keith’s Wharf — during investigations at Ford’s Landing.
Nevertheless, former City Archaeologist Pam Cressey once observed this parcel is the most promising for yielding discoveries.
Already found (Indigo Hotel at 22 S. Union) are the hull of an eighteen century ship hull and the foundation of a 1755 warehouse that sat right on the water’s edge.
I have also included the location of a new piece of public art and a 1749 shoreline marking installed recently on the backside of the Indigo hotel.
So far, the archaeologists have uncovered several foundations. Using maps from the History Matters Report, and a map prepared by EYA for the archaeology work, we are zeroing in on their identity. We won’t know for sure until Thunderbird publishes their final report, but the maps and finds are matching up so far.
The foundations just south of the corner of Duke and S. Union matches up the maps which show three nineteenth century brick town homes.
Curious eyeballs have also been trained on the west side of 2 Duke, the two-story brick building that is the sole remaining piece of the warehouse that took up the entire square block. A foundation recently uncovered there is likely from a warehouse built by Robert T. Hooe and his business partner Richard Harrison in the 1780s.
In my September post I noted that finding this one would be an exciting find. Drawings show it to be 72 x 44. The foundation and first floor were stone, second wood.
This find connects us with Robert Townshend Hooe (ca. 1743-1809) and Richard Harrison.
Harrison served as a consul in France during the American Revolution. He came home and married the daughter of James Craig, George Washington’s physician.
Not as famous as the early founder fathers, Robert T. Hooe nevertheless made a name for himself. He served as Mayor of the city and owned a stone making company.
Worthy of his status and income, Hooe built a large Georgian home with a gambrel roof at the corner of Prince and S. Lee. Robert Madison points out this house was the largest structure in Alexandria at that time. Washington dined there on several occasions. For much of the 19th century, the dwelling was home to a bank.
Research by Ted Pulliam tells us about the items Hooe and Harrison sold from his warehouse (The Hooe Mart?). They include, sail twine, tar turpentine, anchors, tea, black pepper, sugar, china, glass ware, hatchets, blankets, hats, shirts, and yarn.
Donald Shomette (“Maritime Alexandria”) notes that Hooe owned nine vessels. During the Revolutionary War, they “made ten successful voyages in defiance of the British blockade of the Chesapeake.”