Last Sunday, Carlyle House Historic Park in Alexandria hosted one of its annual re-enactments, focusing on when the Carlyle family moved into the house in 1753. Because of the great living history volunteers that made the house come alive with 18th Century activity, over 400 visitors participated in the afternoon tours! It was a steady stream of public from 12 to 4:00 P.M.
Visitors both learned about history and were treated to an entertaining experience. When people participate in an event like this they come away with a sense of what it was like to live in that time period. This is and experience that it is not easy to get from just reading an interpretive sign or seeing a static display. It is called “living history” for a reason.
The volunteers that do living history are an amazing group. Not only do they give great attention to correct period clothing, they often do extensive research into the character they are portraying. They are a wealth of information, and work hard to make history accessible to the general public. If you see a reenactor at one of our historic parks or one of the other great sites in the our area that do living history programs like, Gunston Hall, Gadsby’s Tavern, Mt. Vernon, or others, ask that person some questions. It will likely lead to a great conversation, that will be both fun and enlightening.
In addition to the programs at the Carlyle House, NVRPA also offers battlefield tours by living history volunteers of Balls Bluff Battlefield in Leesburg. Those tours are held on Saturdays and Sundays at 10:00 and Noon during the spring, summer and fall. Similarly we host milling demonstrations at Aldie Mill Historic Park in Aldie Virginia on weekends at 1:00, 2:00 and 3:00 during the spring, summer and fall.
This year we are adding a new program that we hope to do every August 9th. From 6:00 – 8:00 P.M. on Thursday August 9th we are hosting our first Lafayette Day, at Temple Hall Farm Regional Park outside of Leesburg. This event will celebrate August 9th 1825 when the Marquis de Lafayette, President John Quincy Adams, and former President James Monroe all visited the farm that was owned by William Temple Mason, the nephew of George Mason of Gunston Hall.
Below are some of the Living History Events coming up.
August 18th – Alexandria Surrenders (War of 1812) @ Carlyle House
September 22nd & 23rd - Civil War encampment @ Balls Bluff Battlefield
October 27th – Colonel John Carlyle’s 1780 Funeral @ Carlyle House
November 10th – Muster Day 1781 (join the Fairfax Militia) @ Carlyle House
December 1st – A solder’s Christmas (First VA Regiment) @ Carlyle House
(Check http://www.nvrpa.org/ for more details on these and other programs.)