Alexandria, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
St. Asaph Racetrack
1908 Town of Potomac 1929
The Alexandria Gentleman's Driving Club laid out a track just north of here that was operating by 1894, colloquially known as "the St. Asaph Track." In 1897, however, Virginia banned horse race betting, so the track was never as profitable as betting on races run elsewhere from the privacy of the track's poolroom. In early 1904, Commonwealth's Attorney Crandall Mackey alleged that the poolroom was making $150,000 profit per year (a huge sum at the time), even after paying $14,000 a year for telegraph service and $12,000 a year in graft to local officials.
Alexandria County residents opposed the illegal gambling and related activities at the racetrack and elected crusading Commonwealth's Attorney Mackey on a "clean government" platform to shut it down. The track and poolroom, however, fell within the police jurisdiction of the City of Alexandria, whose officials adamantly refused to move against it. The facility was finally shuttered in 1905. Three years later, the property fell under the jurisdiction of the new Town of Potomac, founded to give residents direct control over their own affairs, municipal services, and such troublesome properties as the St. Asaph track and poolroom.
• A poolroom, in the gambling parlance of the time, was a facility for placing bets on races run elsewhere,
Article from Alexandria Gazette, August 8, 1904.
(text of article)
• This impressive grandstand and the judges' tower were long abandoned at the time of this photo in 1914, when homeless African Americans were living there. built in 1894, but used only until 1897, the facility included stables that lined both sides of Mt. Vernon Avenue. The grandstand stood until it burned in 1916. This large area was used by the Army as a mobilization camp in 1898 and again in 1917-18.
Arlington County Historical Society
• The Alexandria County Commonwealth's Attorney repeatedly brought charges against the operators of the St.
Cartoon from The Washington Times, January 13, 1905
• The southern edge of the track would have been about 200 feet directly in front of you, lying between Mt. Ida Avenue, the W&OD railroad right-of-way, and Mt. Vernon Avenue, on the McKericher and Hill properties. It essentially split the town in two until it was developed for housing as the Abingdon Development in 1922.
Virginia Title map, 1900, Special Collections, Alexandria Library
Produced for the Town of Potomac Centennial in 2008 by the City of Alexandria. Research and text by Leland Ness
Erected 2008 by City of Alexandria.
Location. 38° 49.679′ N, 77° 3.529′ W. Marker is in Alexandria, Virginia. Marker is at the intersection of Mount Vernon Avenue and East Mount Ida Avenue, on the right when traveling north on Mount Vernon Avenue. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2525 Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria VA 22301, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Potomac Yard History (here, next to this marker); Schools in the Town of Potomac (within shouting distance of this marker); Mount Vernon Avenue (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Town of Potomac (about 400 feet away); The Electric Railway (about 500 feet away); Captain Rocky Versace Plaza and Vietnam Veterans Memorial (about 500 feet away); Corporal Charles William Hill (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Bluemont Line (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Alexandria.
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Credits. This page was last revised on April 7, 2018. This page originally submitted on March 17, 2018, by Devry Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 76 times since then. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on March 17, 2018, by Devry Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. 3, 4. submitted on March 31, 2018, by Devry Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.