The Lyceum

Historical Significance

As the community history museum, The Lyceum preserves and interprets all facets of local history, including the experiences of African-Americans.

The permanent exhibit, Building a Community: Alexandria Past to Present, is divided into six large sections split between The Lyceum's two largest galleries. Seaport City: Enterprising Beginnings showcases the contributions of black and white Alexandrians who built the community before the Civil War. An Occupied City: The Civil War Years explores the impact of the war on Alexandria, which was occupied by Union forces in May 1861 and held for the duration. The Lyceum building itself was seized for use as a Union hospital during the war.

Past exhibits have explored Alexandria’s decision to pull away from the District of Columbia's jurisdiction in 1846, a decision prompted by the proposed ban on slave trade in the District. Other exhibits have included photographs of the occupation of Alexandria by federal troops during the Civil War, and the sit-in staged by five local African-Americans at the segregated library on Queen Street in 1939. 

Physical Description

The Lyceum is a large, Greek-Revival building constructed in 1839. It was renovated by the City of Alexandria in the early 1970s to become the first Bicentennial Center in America.

Geographical and Contact Information

201 S. Washington Street
Alexandria, Virginia
Phone: 703-838-4994
Fax: 703-838-4997

Cite this Page:

Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, “The Lyceum,” African American Historic Sites Database, accessed June 18, 2019,

Related Tour


Site Type navigation:  Previous | Site Type Info | Next

Share this Site