House Portrait Collection of Old Town Alexandria VA

Home / House Portraits / House Portrait Collection of Old Town Alexandria VA

Old Town Alexandria  . . .  my artistic beginnings

I have great affection and nostalgia for Old Town Alexandria.  It is where I launched my art career 11 years ago and I loved being part of the community and was honored to serve on the board of the Alexandria Arts Commission.

Old Town Alexandria is a walkable historic district in the heart of the city of Alexandria, just south of Washington, D.C. Founded in 1749 when Alexandria was a thriving tobacco port in a British colony, it is renowned as George Washington’s hometown (his Mount Vernon estate is located just a few miles away) and still has a wide array of pre-Revolutionary War houses.

The main historic styles found in Old Town Alexandria are Georgian, Federal, Victorian, Second Empire and a few Colonial style homes and cottages. Some of the larger structures, were built in other designs as noted below.

Please join me in taking a stroll through some of the delightful cobbled street of Old Town. The collection of homes and buildings below is by far not all the paintings I have created in this area, but they include most of my favorites and certainly give a good overview.  Please enjoy this feast of historic architectural styles in beautiful Old Town!

My First Home and Art Studio

In 2009, my husband and I left California and embarked on a road trip across America to find a new place to settle. When we were near Washington D.C., we took a wrong turn and found ourselves in an enchanting historic district called Old Town Alexandria. It was love at  first sight and we both agreed immediately that it would be our new home. The third floor of the 1789 Federal style building (left) is where we lived and I had my studio. My passion was always historic architecture and Old Town proved to be the perfect spot to re-launch my art career.

We lived in Old Town Alexandria for some years and I will always have a special attachment to this area. I loved being involved in the community and was honored to serve on the Alexandria Commission of the Arts.  However my calling to create paintings of homes and historic buildings in all 50 states, led me away to further adventure. I have now documented this pen and watercolor journey across America with a recently released COFFEE TABLE BOOK and Old Town is well featured of course!

Federal Style Homes and Buildings

Old Town Alexandria is home to many Federal style homes and buildings dating to the 1780 to 1820 period. Federal style was the first home and building style of the United States. This style is based on the English Adamesque style that used many elements of ancient Roman architecture. The style has a symmetrical facade, windows with shutters, and a paneled door with a highly decorative surround and sometimes designs were added to the facade. Federal style homes and row-houses are especially popular in US East Coast areas.

A 1790 Federal Style home on Wolfe Street in the spring
This Wolfe Street Federal style home built in 1830, is fall ready with scarecrow and wreath in this home portrait
Brick 1870 Federal style home on North Payne St, Old Town
Matching Federal style row-house block circa 1800 graces North Pitt Street
This 1930 Federal style home graces Fayette Street, Old Town
Federal style townhouse built 1830 sits on Wolfe Street awash in fall color
Home portrait of 1830 brick Federal style home that occupies South Saint Asaph Street
1880 Federal Style home located on South Fayette Street,Old Town
Newer Federal style home built 1979 sits on same block of South Fayette Street
Home portrait of brick Federal style residences on Queen Street built 1845
1830s Federal style home with garden graces South Pitt Street, Old Town Alexandria
Residence portrait of 1830s Federal style home on Queen Street
Newer 1930 Federal style home portrait  rests on North West Street in Old Town Alexandria
1840s Federal style home sits on corner of Duke Street, Old Town Alexandria
1880 Federal style residence graces block of Pitt Street ablaze in its spring garden
Classic Old Town Alexandria VA architectural scene – Homes on the waterfront
Found on Queen Street, the blue row-home is the smallest house in Old Town Alexandria. It is only 9 feet wide.

Georgian Style Homes and Buildings

Old Town Alexandria has many old homes in the American Georgian style from years 1700 to 1780. This style is based upon earlier European styles that emphasized classical Greek and Roman shapes. A symmetrical facade, windows with 9 or 12 separate glass panes (called lites), paneled doors with designs at the top of door pillars (called pilasters) are some of the distinctive characteristics of the George home or building. Homes constructed of both brick and clapboards are common around Alexandria, sometimes including designed block moldings for extra detail.

Brick Georgian style building that formerly housed the Bank of Alexandria is now a private home on Fairfax Street, Old Town Alexandria. It was built in 1806
Georgian style house portrait. It was built on Prince Street in 1752
Newer home with Georgian style elements can be found on Noth Fayette Street
Brick 1920s Georgian style brick home on Fairfax Street in Old Town Alexandria  framed with flowering trees
Rambling roses cover this Georgian style home which sits on Jefferson Street
Prince Street Georgian style home with garden built 1810 in the winter on Prince Street, Old Town
1880s Georgian style home sits on Prince Street, Old Town Alexandria

Victorian Style Homes and Buildings

Another popular Old Town Alexandria home and building style is the Victorian home dating from around 1880 to 1910. This period includes a wide range of style types including the Queen Anne and the Victorian Stick style. The majority of Victorian era homes in Old Town Alexandria are row-houses.  Due to improvements made during the American Industrial Age, after the Civil War the ammunition factories converted to making metal house parts and machinery to fashion mass-produced decorative elements. The result was the birth of the Victorian home period which soon moved from the cities into other areas of the United States via railroad delivery of parts and home kits.

The use of newly developed forced air heating made it possible to shape rooms in a variety of ways starting in the Victorian period, so stoves and fireplaces took on a lesser design usage. New paint technologies allowed homeowners to boldly paint their new Victorian homes making the Painted Lady trend a look still celebrated 100+ years later. The Victorian home frequently makes use of asymmetrical home shapes with turrets, bay windows, a large first floor front porch, patterned shingles and much decorative trim work.

1880 Victorian home found on Prince Street, Old Town Alexandria. Being that it was built on the end of a row of adjoining homes, it formerly served as a store for the local community.
1880s Victorian watercolor house portrait on Saint Asaph Street, Old Town Alexandria
Victoria style structure built 1800.  As can be seen by the style of the building, it was formerly a community hall and gathering place which was later converted into a single family home.
Classic Victorian from the1880s on North Alfred Street, Old Town Alexandria
High style Victorian twin homes built in 1900 on North Lee Street, Old Town Alexandria
Another twin set of matching Victorian row-homes on Fairfax Street, Old Town Alexandria, built in 1900
Brick Victorian homes on South Fairfax Street built in 1890, Old Town Alexandria
Brick Victorian home built 1884 graces Prince Street with spring bloom and tucked behind wrought iron fence in this home portrait
Prince Street residence in 1860s Victorian style house portrait
A retail property built in Victorian style circa 1900. The store no longer exist, however I was commissioned to create this portrait by descendants of its original owners.
A view of what is called “The King Street Mile” shows the old world charm of Old Town Alexandria. Most of these storefronts were built in the Victorian era.
Also of Victorian origin, is Old Town Theatre on King Street, the main thoroughfare of Old Town Alexandria

Second Empire Style Homes and Buildings

Another popular architectural form in Old Town Alexandria is the Second Empire style. This term refers to France’s Second Empire or the reign of Napoleon III. The popularity of this design style follows the approximate reign of this leader as well and extends a bit beyond, approximately 1855 to 1885. Second Empire style closely follows the Italianate design but includes a Mansard roof with dormers, deep eaves with decorative brackets and elaborate windows with hoods.

Lovely Franklin Street Second Empire style home with mansard roof and brick sidewalk
Home portrait of North Alfred Street house, built in the Second Empire style
Another Second Empire stunner on South Alfred Street built in 1890
A Second Empire subject on North Alfred Street, Old Town Alexandria, built in 1830s
This 1920 Second Empire style home sits on Payne Street framed by cascading flowers in this home portrait
This 1870 Second Empire home graces North Alfred Street, Old Town Alexandria
In Old Town Alexandria, this 1930 home occupies West Street showing off the Second Empire style
This 1870 home is located on South Fairfax Street, Old Town Alexandria
This large 1870s home with expansive front porch and mansard roof sits on Wolfe Street in Old Town Alexandria

Colonial Style Homes

Another favorite style of older and newer builds in Old Town Alexandria is the American Colonial style. This style made a resurgence as the US celebrated its Centennial year of 1876. The Colonial style came back into vogue from 1880 to 1955 as a celebration of times past. The Colonial style is characterized by a large entry way, columns and a symmetrical facade.

This house portrait has elements of the Colonial style and can be found Jefferson Street. It was built in  1900 and sits next to Jones Point Park
Colonial style home built in 1919 that sits on South Lee St in Old Town Alexandria
Brick colonial home also on South Lee Street, framed by lush flower garden in this home portrait
Home portrait with Colonial and Craftsman elements that is on Cameron St, Old Town Alexandria

Cottages

A variety of cottage homes came into vogue around the 1930’s – 1940’s  as the Old Town neighborhood grew and they can be found tucked away in various part of Old Town Alexandria.  The cottage style is an American classic whose form varies by location due to weather conditions and materials available for building. These one story or 1 1/2 story structures frequently have small porches, gable roofs and bay windows to add charm to this varied home definition.

This Chetworth Place cottage built in 1939 sits on lush lawn in this house portrait
A cottage beauty on Devon Place, Old Town Alexandria, framed by flowering trees in this home portrait
Another Devon Place cottage from 1939
Welcoming Old Town Alexandria cottage house portrait.
This brick cottage on South Saint Asaph Street, Old Town Alexandria, was built in 1940

Other Special Places and Memories of Old Town Alexandria 

A Trilogy of Old Town Alexandria Memories

When my clients left their much-loved house in Old Town Alexandria, there were so many aspects of the home and fond memories they asked me to capture them in the series of paintings below. Their brick rowhouse overlooked a peaceful tree-filled courtyard and walkway which my clients and their neighbors referred to as “the mews”. The name comes from humble beginnings, referring to structures built in England in the 18th and 19th centuries to stable horses. The servant living quarters were above the stables. Today, most English mews houses have been tastefully restored to provide everything required for a modern 21st century lifestyle. Meanwhile, the development of these private communities continues to grow in popularity today.

Please enjoy this three-part series of paintings depicting aspects my clients loved most about their Old Town home in “the mews”.

Alexandria City Hall and Community Spirit 

The site of Alexandria City Hall dates back to 1749 when it was established as a market.  In 1752, a town hall and courthouse were built on the site and George Washington served as a justice in this court.

When living in Old Town, I used to love going to the Saturday Farmer’s Market which is held in the Town Hall Market Square plaza. It’s the oldest farmers’ market in the country which has been held continuously at the same site and it offers an array of fresh produce as well as arts and crafts.

I created the painting below to commemorate Spring for Alexandria, an annual four-day celebration of giving and service in Alexandria. The event brings together more than 3,000 community members, provides thousands of hours of labor and skills for community improvement projects and raises funds for Alexandria charities. If you look closely, with a little imagination you can see me presenting the painting to the Mayor of Alexandria on a stage area with a brightly colored Spring for Alexandria backdrop which I painted with the help of a team of youth as part of the activities.

The Town Hall was built in the Second Empire architectural style.

St. Mary’s Church

The cornerstone of the Basilica of St. Mary (below) was laid in 1826, and it is the oldest Roman Catholic church in the Commonwealth of Virginia. St. Mary’s is a well-known landmark in Old Town Alexandria, and one I was honored to paint. The Church was built in the Gothic Revival style.

St. Mary’s Church in Old Town Alexandria was constructed in the Gothic Revival style of architecture.

I hope you have enjoyed this stroll down memory lane.  Without a doubt, Old Town Alexandria has a magic all of its own and I trust you found this tour both enjoyable and informative.

Prints of some of the most iconic street scenes and buildings in my Old Town Alexandria Series can be purchased as prints on my website art store.

As always, I love getting your feedback and don’t hesitate to get in touch with any questions.

Cheers and happy summer!

Leisa