The Alexandria Black History Museum has opened a free photography exhibit: The Spirit of a Neighborhood Revisited: The Parker-Gray Community, 1985 -1986, Photographs by Carol G. Siegel.
In July 1985, Siegel received a grant from the Alexandria Commission on the Arts to document the black community of the Parker-Gray Historic District. This year, the exhibition will close on Oct. 13.
Originally shown at the Alexandria Black History Museum in 1989, The Spirit of a Neighborhood was the first exhibition to open in the museum after it became part of the City of Alexandria.
In the 23 years since the photographs were first shown, many changes have occurred in the community -- children depicted are now adults, some subjects have passed away, and many old homes and buildings were lost to development and gentrification, says a statement from the city's Office of Historic Alexandria.
The Parker-Gray Historic District consists of 130 acres, much of it commercially zoned, and bounded by First, Cameron and North Columbus streets and the R.F. &P Railroad tracks.
Since the late 19th century, African Americans have established their homes here as well as a number of institutions vital to black Alexandrians residing both within and outside this district. One of these institutions was Parker-Gray High School, the first and only African American high school in Alexandria. It was one of the anchors of the city’s African American community for over 50 years. The school was closed in 1979 and demolished in 1984 to build Braddock Place next to the Braddock Road Metro. Many of the black churches, barber shops, beauty parlors and businesses as well as many social clubs and service organizations were located here.