Alexandria African American Historic Buildings in Miniature

Tops of Old Town is an institution in Alexandria. This shop, now located at 2400 Mount Vernon Avenue, has provided millinery for the women and men since February 28, 1987.

On Exhibit Now at Alexandria Black History Museum Through September

The Parker-Gray community was historically an African-American neighborhood in Alexandria and many of its original working buildings have been torn down, but two local artists have painstakingly spent hundreds of hours reproducing some of those structures, in miniature.

This exhibition is composed of numerous works, including the Carver Nursery School, Robert Robinson Library, and the Hayden Photography Studio. Several of the buildings including a barbershop and hair dressing salon, a medical building, an attorney’s office, and a florist, are all patterned after actual businesses in the Parker-Gray community. This year there are several new creations: Linwood’s Boyhood Home, Tops of Old Town Hat Shop, and the Baltimore Radio Repair Shop. The new buildings highlight forgotten, endangered, and repurposed buildings that make up the fondly remembered fabric of Alexandria’s African American community.

Learning of this exhibit through school, Kelly Henson Vontz’s daughter clutching her doll, looks at the miniature that represents the Alexandria Health Department.

The Alexandria Black History Museum is located at 902 Wythe Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314 and it is five blocks from the Braddock Road Metro Station on the Yellow and Blue Lines. Street parking is available. For more information, please call 703.746.4356.

Sharon Jones Frazier and Linwood M. Smith, both lifetime residents of Alexandria, began working together on their amazing historic collection in 1994, combining talents and drawing on their memories of places and people in Alexandria.

Mrs. Frazier, a retired registered nurse, developed skills in miniaturization while Mr. Smith, a retired automotive mechanic, used his talents as a craftsman to construct dollhouses to scale. They first exhibited at the Alexandria Black History Museum in 2008.

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