Ramsay House, now the Alexandria Visitors Center, was floated up the Potomac River in 1749 from Dumfries, where it was built in 1724, and dragged by mules to its present site at the corner of King and Fairfax streets.

There the house became the first residence in the newly established town of Alexandria. Its owner, William Ramsay, a Scottish merchant and a town founder, lived there briefly with his wife, Anne, and some of their eight children.

Ramsay was given the honorary Scottish title of lord mayor for his many contributions to the town as postmaster, census taker and town trustee. Anne Ramsay is credited with raising $75,000 to support the American Revolution. When Ramsay died in 1785 his close friend George Washington walked in his funeral procession. The Ramsays' eldest son, Dennis, who was born in this house, became the town's first elected mayor in 1789.

In this 1920 photo, Ramsay House was a cigar factory. It has also been a rooming house, a tavern and a grocery store. It was restored by the city to its gambrel-roof original design after a 1942 fire, revealing the field-stone base hidden in the early photo. The only original feature still visible is some old weatherboard facing the porch.

The visitors center is open daily, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. COURTESY ALEXANDRIA PUBLIC LIBRARY BY SHARON FARMER FOR THE WASHINGTON POST