Virginia marks birthdays of Robert E. Lee and his father, and Stonewall Jackson


January 17, 1993|By Dorothy Fleetwood | Dorothy Fleetwood,Staff Writer

This week Virginia will honor three native sons who were born in the month of January: Robert E. Lee, born on Jan. 19; his father, who was known as "Light Horse Harry" Lee, on Jan. 29 and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson on Jan. 21.

Robert E. Lee's birthplace, Stratford Hall Plantation in Westmoreland County, Va., is the site of two celebrations. Today the public is invited to tour the stately 20-room mansion free of charge from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The dining room will be open for lunch between 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. Then, on the general's birthday on Tuesday, the mansion will once again waive admission fees. The dining room will not be open, but visitors will receive complimentary refreshment. An exhibit, "Images of Lee," will be on view in the library, usually closed to the public.

Built in 1725 by Lee's great grandfather, Stratford Hall overlooks the Potomac River on Virginia's Northern Neck. It is just off Route 214, 20 miles east of Route 3 and U.S. 301. For information, call (804) 493-8038.

Lee's birthday will also be noted at Arlington House, where he lived with his family from 1831 to 1861. During an open house on Tuesday a quartet will sing some of his favorite songs and perform other popular music of the early 19th century. Guests will be served complimentary pound cake and cider after a tour of the house. Admission is free.

Arlington House is located in Arlington National Cemetery. Parking is available at the visitor center. It's a short (15 minute) walk up the hill to the mansion, or you can board the tourmobile, which makes stops at the mansion, the Kennedy grave and other special sites in the cemetery. The fare is $2.75 for adults; $1.25 for ages 3 to 11. For information, call (703) 557-0613.

It's a tradition in Lexington, Va., to mark the birthdays of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Both men lived, worked and were buried in Lexington. On Tuesday a birthday convocation will be held in Lee Chapel on the campus of Washington and Lee University at noon. Lee became president of the university after the Civil War and directed the building of Lee Chapel. His office in the chapel remains much the same as he left it in the fall of 1870, and he and his family are buried there.

The Stonewall Jackson House will celebrate Jackson's birthday on Jan. 21 with free tours of the house from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Guests will also receive a slice of birthday cake. The house has been restored to look as it did when Jackson lived there with his second wife just before the Civil War. It is the only home the general ever owned. An exhibition of "Jackson's Travels in Mexico" is on view there. That same day a re-enactment group will take part in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery. For information, contact the Lexington Visitors Bureau, (703) 463-3777.

A father and son birthday party will be held in Alexandria, Va., next Sunday for Robert E. Lee and Light Horse Harry Lee. The boyhood home of Robert E. Lee, 607 Oronoco St., and the Lee-Fendall House, across the street at 614 Oronoco St., will both be open for tour from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. with costumed docents, period music and refreshments. Shannon Starke will perform period musical selections on the old Chickering piano at the Lee-Fendall House, and musicians will perform at the boyhood home. Complimentary refreshments will be offered at both houses. A combination ticket costs $6 for adults; $2 for ages 11 to 17; free for 10 and under. For information, call (703) 548-1789.

Winter Discovery Series

Over the next 10 weeks visitors in Colonial Williamsburg, Va., will have an opportunity to participate in a range of learning experiences, from behind-the-scenes activities to needlework marathons. The Winter Discovery Series began Monday with a venture into Virginia's 18th-century frontier. The programs covered early explorers, hunting, mapping and surveying, and conflict and trade with the Indians. This week, visitors take a look behind the scenes in the Historic Area.

During the week of Jan. 25-30 Colonial Williamsburg crafts-people will share information on the urban and rural, government and private trades of 200 years ago. An option of the program is a hands-on experience in selected trades.

African-American life and struggles in the 18th century will be the focus of programs Feb. 1-6.

Future programs include historical research, Feb. 8-13; the relationship between church and state in 18th-century Virginia, Feb. 15-20; women's role in the 18th century, Feb. 22-27; Colonial clothing with programs by the Historic Area's milliner, // tailor, wigmaker and shoemaker and a behind-the-scenes look at the Costume Design Center, March 1-6; and housekeeping in Colonial times, March 8-13. The final week of the series concentrates on Williamsburg's history from post-Revolutionary War times to the present, March 15-20.

Participation in some programs may be limited. Admission is by Colonial Williamsburg ticket or resident pass. For information, call (804) 220-7662; to request a free brochure, call (800) HISTORY.

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