Arlington Historical Museum loves all Arlington things great and small


The rope rang the school bell, until a kid pulled it too hard a few months ago.

No example of civic pride is too trivial for the Arlington Historical Museum. While roughly a third of the space goes to the county’s founding and role in the Civil War, there’s also a display case entirely devoted to a letter from Ronald Reagan to a kindergarten class in 1981 (thanking the students for a get-well note sent after his near-assassination), the pen used to write it, a poster-sized version of the letter, pictures of the kids, a portrait of Reagan and two newspaper clippings. We’d call that hyperlocal, if “hyper” could in any way characterize the museum’s tranquil, Type B charm.

Backstory
The museum lives in the circa-1891 Hume School, closed in 1956. The Arlington Historical Society reopened it in 1963. See a recreated schoolroom, above, on the second floor.

Stuff to Look At
Arlingtoniana needs only a passing connection to the county to qualify for inclusion. Hence the tombstone of Confederate soldier Robert S. Jones, found in use as a doorstop in Arlington. He’s buried elsewhere in Virginia.

The “Jefferson Davis Desk” may not have belonged to the president of the Confederacy, but a local family held it dear, and therefore it belongs. Other items of note: Arlington’s first TV, a “Genuine Metro Rock” souvenir from the opening of the Orange Line in Arlington, and free recipe cards for the coconut cream pie served at the long-closed Allison’s Little Tea House.

A new display looks at the bygone Arlington Brewing Company and its Prohibition-era product, Cherry Smash soda.

In the Gift Shop
Books, cards, $1 recipe pamphlets. A guide to the county’s place-names ($10) reveals that “glebe” is not a nonsense word made up by whoever named Arlington’s streets.

Arlington Historical Museum, 1805 S. Arlington Ridge Road; Sat. & Sun., 1-4 p.m.; 703-892-4204.

 

This article was corrected on Aug. 27, 2014, because Arlington is a county, not a city.


Read recent Sites Unseen columns:

Ride the National Capital Trolley Museum’s streetcars — don’t wait for H Street

National Capital Radio & Television Museum: Listen, watch and learn

Patapsco Female Institute’s ruins are a hidden Ellicott City treasure

 

Holly J. Morris is Express' managing editor for features.
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