“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Old Town in Alexandria, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

Colonel Francis Peyton

Colonel Francis Peyton Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Jones, March 30, 2018
1. Colonel Francis Peyton Marker
Inscription.  In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, this land was part of a larger parcel owned by Colonel Francis Peyton and the land was later inherited by his son, Lucien. In 1851, Lucien Peyton sold this property, depicted on the 1845 map of Alexandria, to Edward Home. Land tax records and an Alexandria Gazette newspaper advertisement indicate that Home made some significant improvements to the land, including the construction of a frame dwelling, a brick slave jail, a cultivated garden, a water pump, and several outbuildings, before selling the property later that same year. For much of the remainder of the 19th century, the parcel was owned by local butcher Henry Bontz, whose father-in-law was the proprietor of the adjacent Virginia House Hotel and Tavern. In 1857, Bontz subdivided this property into five parcels, creating an urban façade along upper King Street. A sense of this historic façade is preserved today along the entrance to this hotel.

Archaeological investigations and archival research conducted prior to the hotel construction offered a glimpse into early Alexandria water systems. A brick-lined well containing a bored-log
Colonel Francis Peyton Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Jones, March 30, 2018
2. Colonel Francis Peyton Marker
pipe (used to the pump the well water out), several wooden barrel cisterns (to collect or hold water), several wooden box conduits (used to convey water), and a possible cobblestone drain were discovered during the archaeological excavations. One of the barrel cisterns collected water from a bored log pipe, similar to the one found in the well. The residents of this property or visitors to the adjacent Virginia House may have at one time used these water features.

Research suggests that the brick well may be the "pump of fine water in the yard" mentioned in Home's 1851 Alexandria Gazette advertisement. Similarly reference to the wooden conduits may have been found in an 1830 Alexandria Gazette advertisement for the Virginia House, which describes "a fountain of fine water brought in by pipes from a neighboring spring". It is possible that water may have been piped across this property to the Virginia House, through the wooden conduits uncovered during the archaeological work. The conduits crossed several lot lines and therefore were most likely constructed before Bontz subdivided the property.

Another possible use of the conduits, along with a cobblestone feature also uncovered by archaeologists, may have been to channel water away from surrounding land into Hoofs Run, which is shown to the west of this property on the 1845 Ewing map of Alexandria. The backyard
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of this parcel appears to slope to the south and east away from King Street toward Hooffs Run.

Numerous written accounts and drawings indicate how common bored log pipes and pumps were in the 18th and 19th century; however, these devices are not often found by archaeologists, making the discover at this hotel unique within the city of Alexandria.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: ArchitectureCommunicationsRoads & Vehicles.
Location. 38° 48.375′ N, 77° 3.406′ W. Marker is in Old Town in Alexandria, Virginia. Marker is on King Street (Virginia Route 7) west of South Peyton Street, on the left when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1602 King Street, Alexandria VA 22314, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. ASIS International 9/11 Memorial (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Freedom House Museum (about 600 feet away); Alexandria, D.C. (about 700 feet away); Shuter's Hill (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Duke Street Tanyard (approx. 0.2 miles away); L’Ouverture Hospital (approx. 0.2 miles away); Shiloh Baptist Church (approx. 0.2 miles away); 1323 Duke Street – From Slavery to Freedom and Service (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Old Town.
Credits. This page was last revised on April 17, 2020. It was originally submitted on March 31, 2018, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 183 times since then and 40 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on March 31, 2018, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.
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Aug. 15, 2020