AHS Special Award

2014 – Mary Ruth Coleman

Mary Ruth Coleman received this honor for her many contributions to the preservation of Alexandria's history.  In particular, she merits recognition for her exemplary performance as Director of Carlyle House Historic Park.  Because of her vision, determination, and commitment to excellence, Carlyle House became one of the leading house museums in the region, making it a model for other museums to follow.  As a further mark of distinction, the museum received accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums in 1994 and was reaccredited in 2004 during her tenure with the historic site.

Mary Ruth Coleman led a vibrant Friends organization that brought back to Carlyle House significant items that belonged to Colonel John Carlyle.  She instituted a new paint analysis and historic furnishings plan and then implemented them, restoring the house to the way it looked when John Carlyle lived there in the eighteenth century.  As executive producer of Paper and Stone, a documentary film about the life of John Carlyle, she obtained the necessary funding and worked closely with the filmmaker on script development, research and editing.  Her many research papers and reports have provided numerous details about life in early Alexandria.   

As a long-time member of the Historic Alexandria Resources Commission and the Board of the Alexandria Convention & Visitors Association, Coleman ensured optimum balance between tourism and historic preservation in Alexandria.  She furthered this aim as President of the Alexandria Historical Society from 2003 to 2007.  Mary Ruth Coleman is a graduate of the College of William and Mary and has been married for 45 years to Dick Coleman, retired Navy Captain.  Mary Ruth and Dick have two sons and seven wonderful grandchildren.  


2013 – Al Cox

Leaving an award winning architectural preservation practice in Texas, Al Cox was hired as a City Architect by the City of Alexandria in 1991, and has worked in Code Administration and the City’s Planning department. It was here that he met the late Peter Smith, and their dynamic collaborative efforts combined academic, legal, and practical knowledge of historic preservation, which culminated in such defining efforts as the Design Guidelines for Preservation for the Board of Architectural Review. 

Over the years, Mr. Cox has worked tirelessly to maintain the historic integrity of Alexandria’s neighborhoods. Working with the Office of Historic Alexandria, he has contributed his insights to programs, lectures and National Register nominations. He is the creator and designer of the Pavilion in front of City Hall. Mr. Cox also supported the Carlyle Design Review Board and now serves as Historic Preservation Manager of the two Alexandria Boards of Architectural Review. 

Jean Taylor Federico, former director of the Office of Historic Alexandria, recalls “… With Al Cox we received…wisdom, wonderful down home expressions and a superb ability to make everything important very clear and easy to understand. I loved hearing Al talk about the type of mortar and the way bricks were laid to create what he would call a perfect bread and butter joint…. Al is outstanding in his ability to speak to homeowners as well as preservation experts.” 

Mr. Cox has also shared his time and expertise with non-profit organizations like Preservation Virginia, and with his arrival by motorcycle, he helped restore the Monteagle Sunday School Assembly in Tennessee, a 130-year-old interdenominational church listed on the National Register. He is a past President of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Northern Virginia Chapter, and received the state AIA Award for Preservation in 2002. In 2006, he was elected to the AIA National College of Fellows. Mr. Cox and his wife Cathy have lived in Old Town in a historic town home for the past 20 years.


2013 – Ann Graham

Ann Graham’s book, The Bounden Duty of the Progeny: A History: Robert E. Lee Camp, No. 726, Sons of Confederate Veterans, is hailed by Wanda Dowell, former Director of Fort Ward Museum and Historic Site, as “the most comprehensive history of the Robert E. Lee Camp No. 726 in existence. For the research effort alone, this book is worthy of recognition as another documented chapter in the fabric that is woven together to create the history of Alexandria.” 

Mrs. Graham has volunteered extensively in support of historic preservation and interpretation activities. She has been the Docent-in-Charge at Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, served on the Docent Advisory Committee, and was the secretary of the Historic Alexandria Docents. She developed a comprehensive disaster preparedness plan for the City’s historic properties, and initiated a program to improve the structural integrity of Lee Camp Hall at 806 Prince Street, thereby bringing it into compliance with current city code. 

Mrs. Graham has held top-level administrative roles in government that required professionalism, attention to detail, and determination. She also owned and operated a touring business in Old Town Alexandria, which provided tours for small groups and step-on guides for tour buses. Her skills, insights and love of history have served her well for she has won several awards for historic preservation, particularly for her efforts to save Robert E. Lee’s boyhood home. 

As a 13th-generation Virginian, her love of history, especially Civil War Virginia, is rooted in her family’s history. Mrs. Graham lives with her husband and cat in Fairfax Station.

2012 – Robert L. Madison

Robert L. Madison is the author of Walking with Washington: Walking Tours of Alexandria, Virginia, Featuring over 100 Sites Associated with George Washington. Walking with Washington continues to be used by tourists, residents, historians and curators with all proceeds going to Alexandria's historic sites. Mr. Madison was Alexandria Archaeology's 1998 Volunteer of the Year, and he has been a docent with the Carlyle House Historic Park for over 14 years. For seven years, he was a board member of the AHS and served as Vice President and Program Chair, where he managed the website, edited the newsletter, handled publicity and scheduled a stellar roster of speakers. 

A native of Michigan, Madison spent much of his career working for the Navy -- Active duty, then Civilian Service and Reserve -- where he earned the Department of Navy Superior Civilian Service medal. He retired from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, receiving their Meritorious Civilian Service medal. He lives in Springfield with his wife Joanne.


2012 – Michael Lee Pope

Michael Lee Pope is the author of Hidden History of Alexandria, D.C., which covers an overlooked period of Alexandria’s history. In addition to this publication, Pope’s Ghosts of Alexandria, contains fascinating local history. In conjunction with the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, Mr. Pope has written a series of articles on Alexandria’s Civil War history. As an award-winning journalist, he has reported for WAMU 88.5 FM, the Alexandria Gazette Packet, the New York Daily News and the Tallahassee Democrat. Mr. Pope was born in Moultrie, Georgia, and grew up in Durham, North Carolina, and Tampa, Florida.


Pope has a Master’s Degree in American Studies from Florida State University. He was also a former adjunct professor at Tallahassee Community College. Mr. Pope resides in Old Town Alexandria with his wife, Hope Nelson.


2011 – Donald C. Hakenson

Donald C. Hakenson was honored for his book, This Forgotten Land, Volume II: Biographical Sketches of Confederate Veterans Buried in Alexandria, Virginia, published in 2010.


Some 600,000-622,000 American lives were lost during the Civil War. Numerous families sought answers to what had become of their loved ones. Hakenson’s book identifies 547 Alexandrians and other Confederate and Union veterans buried in Alexandria cemeteries. He has provided an historical narrative sketch for each of these men who lived, fought and were killed in the war or who survived the war but were later buried in Alexandria. His work will enable future researchers the ability to quickly find a plethora of consolidated facts, heretofore not available, annotated in one easy to read periodical.


Hakenson is an Air Force veteran who retired from the federal government in 2008 after working 37 years for the Department of the Army as a civilian. He has spent countless years researching obscure Civil War incidents and sites in Fairfax County, especially regarding the Confederate guerilla chieftain Colonel John S. Mosby and his rangers. Hakenson is the past President, and a current board member for the Stuart-Mosby Historical Society; has served as a History Commissioner for Lee District in Fairfax County for five years; is also a founder and member on the board of directors for the Franconia Museum; is a Civil War advisor for the Mosby Foundation, in Warrenton and for the Friends of Laura Ratcliffe, in Herndon. He has published five books related to the Civil War, written many articles on Mosby, and the Civil War history around Franconia and Fairfax County in various newsletters, magazines and newspapers, and edited various history publications.


2011 – Benjamin F. Cooling III and Walton H. Owen, II

The co-authors of Mr. Lincoln’s Forts, A Guide to the Civil War Defenses of Washington, new edition, published in the fall of 2009 were honored for their dedicated effort in sharing with the public their research and understanding of the 68 enclosed earthen forts and 93 batteries created to protect the nation’s capital during the Civil War.


By 1961, the Defenses of Washington built during the Civil War had all but faded into oblivion. Shortly thereafter, Cooling emerged as a pioneer researcher and advocate for the preservation and interpretation of the remaining earthenwork forts and in 1975 published the history of this defense system in Symbol, Sword and Shield: Defending Washington During the Civil War. However, due to urban sprawl, readers hoping to find the remains of the forts were unable to do so. In the 1980’s, Cooling and Owen teamed up to provide the first guide that would allow the public to locate and visit sites of the forts or find their extant remains. This extensive project became the first edition of Mr. Lincoln’s Forts, published in 1988. The 2009 edition is a continuation of their research; they have also identified many of the units that manned the forts.


Benjamin Cooling served as Chief Historian and Research Director with the Department of Energy and as a historian with the Army, Air Force, and National Park Service, and elsewhere. He has taught at numerous universities and is currently a Professor of History at the National Defense University in Washington DC. Cooling has authored or edited 16 books on the Civil War and modern warfare and has written several hundred articles, essays and reviews on aspects of military, naval and other history.


Walton H. Owen II is a native Alexandrian. He has served as Historic Site Administrator at Fort C.F. Smith Park and Historic Site in Arlington, and as the National Archives’ Museum Specialist on the Nixon Presidential Materials Staff. He has been the Assistant Director at Fort Ward Museum since 2002.


2010 – Ruth Lincoln Kaye

Ruth Lincoln Kaye was recognized for her two-volume work, The History of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church 1809 – 2009. This comprehensive history of one of Alexandria’s most significant institutions is an important addition to the written record of Alexandria’s history. The Alexandria Public Library catalog lists fifteen publications by Mrs. Kaye related to Alexandria history. Her pamphlet Legends and Folk Tales of Old Alexandria, Virginia has been a staple at Alexandria book stores and gift shops for over thirty years. Widely published locally, Mrs. Kaye has contributed articles related to Alexandria’s history to publications such as the Alexandria Chronicle, the Fireside Sentinel, Northern Virginia Heritage, and the Yearbook of the Historical Society of Fairfax County, Virginia. In addition, she has provided Alexandria history articles to publications such as the Alexandria Gazette Packet. Mrs. Kaye has been researching and writing about Alexandria’s history for seven decades and played a major role in assisting developers in choosing street names related to Alexandria history for the Eisenhower valley. As part of her history research business, she has also developed over 265 “house histories” of Alexandria-area homes.


2010 – Rev. Dr. Lee A. Earl and Minister Zandra Earl

The Reverend Dr. Lee A. Earl, Senior Pastor, and his wife Zandra Lee, First Lady and Minister, of Shiloh Baptist Church were recognized for their efforts toward ensuring the preservation and renovation of historic Shiloh Baptist Church, founded in 1863 and located at 1315 Duke Street, and the adjacent historic building being renovated as housing for senior citizens. In 2009, Dr. Earl was appointed president of the Alexandria Chapter of the NAACP. Shiloh Baptist Church has many community programs, but two of their most noteworthy have been the creation of the Shiloh Baptist Church Museum, which preserves the rich legacy of their religious community and African Americans in Alexandria, and the development of Beasley Square which will provide affordable housing for Alexandria’s senior community.


2009 – Char McCargo Bah

Ms. Bah, a noted historian and genealogist specializing in African-American family research, was recognized for her research into descendants of people buried at Freedmen’s Cemetery. Through her efforts, over 40 descendants of the people buried at the Cemetery have been identified and located, many still in the Alexandria area. This work was not inconsequential. Her work has helped to put faces to people buried and lost through the decades, to link families with forgotten members buried almost 150 years ago, and to strengthen the ties between a community and its past.


2009 – Rosalind H. Bovey

A longtime champion of Alexandria history, Ms. Bovey was honored for her high quality historical research, and support, of the North Ridge community in Alexandria; her development of five programs involving topics in Alexandria’s history aired on Agenda Alexandria, an organization that sponsors informed debate and discussion on issues of concern to Alexandrians; and her longtime leadership of, and service to, the Friends of Carlyle House.


2009 – Leland and Janet Ness

Leland and Janet Ness, historians and residents of Del Ray, were recognized for their extensive historical research into the Town of Potomac (now Del Ray); promotion of Del Ray history; and efforts to identify, via plaques, and preserve historic homes in the historic district.


2009 – Robert E. L. deButts, Jr.

A Special Award was given to Robert E. L. deButts, Jr., a descendant of Robert E. Lee, for his noteworthy contribution to knowledge of an important period in American history. Mr. deButts was doing research on his Lee family ancestors in 2002. Knowing that Mary Custis Lee had once had an account at the Burke & Herbert Bank, he contacted his former schoolmate, E. Hunt Burke of the Alexandria bank. Two unclaimed steamer trunks belonging to Mary Custis Lee were discovered. This amazing event resulted in the Lee family making the documents, journals and artifacts available to scholars by placing the contents on loan to the Virginia Historical Society. Mr. deButts wrote the interesting article “Lee in Love: Courtship and Correspondence in Antebellum Virginia,” published by the Virginia Historical Society in their quarterly magazine. He is now compiling an edition of Robert E. Lee’s family letters.


2008 – Carlton A. Funn, Sr.

The Alexandria Historical Society honored Carlton A. Funn, Sr. for his lifetime of service preserving and promoting African-American heritage through National /International Cultural Exhibits (NICE), which he founded. NICE is a traveling exhibition that has been shown more than 400 times to school and community groups in 11 states over the past 50 years. Mr. Funn began to collect memorabilia artifacts in about 1957 that reflected African-Americans’ contributions to Virginia and the United States, and he turned the collection into meaningful exhibitions. He has served our community as an educator for more than forty-two years.


2007 – Gary D. Eyler

Mr. Eyler owns the Old Colony Shop at 222 S. Washington Street. About ten years ago at an auction, he acquired artifacts unearthed at Jamestown; among the items were a 1595 cannon similar to one used by Captain John Smith at the settlement and a first edition of Smith’s 1624 map of Virginia. He allowed them to be displayed in an exhibit titled “Virginia – Celebrating 400 Years.” Mr. Eyler is donating 22 artifacts to the state of Virginia as a gift for Virginia’s 400th birthday. Gary D. Eyler is being recognized for his generosity and dedication to Virginia’s history.


2005 – Marian Van Landingham

Marian Van Landingham has been a loyal advocate for museums and historic sites throughout her 23 years in the Virginia General Assembly. She consistently sponsored legislation to strengthen the goals of the statewide Department of Historic Resources, and she sponsored or supported the work of others in securing funding for the Lee-Fendall House, the Lloyd House, the Alexandria Academy, the Athenaeum, the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum, and a variety of other historic and cultural sites.


2004 – Betty Rhoads Wright

Betty Rhoads Wright was honored for her great generosity in purchasing and donating to the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum a collection of early documents pertaining to the business of the museum’s two earliest proprietors, Edward Stabler and his son William. This included the famous 1802 order from Martha Washington directing Mr. Stabler to send her a quart of his finest castor oil. As a direct result of Mrs. Wright’s generosity, the museum now possesses an almost complete inventory of documents dating from the 1790s to the 1930s.


2003 – John Hanna, Gary Smith, the late Wilbur Sparks, and the Alexandria Harmonizers

We also honor John Hanna, Gary Smith and the late Wilbur Sparks, editors of Breathless Moments: The Alexandria Harmonizers, 1948-1998. Published in 1999, their book chronicles the Alexandria Chapter of the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America, Inc. The work, and the Harmonizers themselves, are responsible for preserving and popularizing a unique aspect of the culture and artistic heritage of our city.


2003 – Anne Smith Paul

Anne Smith Paul has given selflessly of her time to the community, most notably as an officer – president, vice president, treasurer and de facto archivist – of the Alexandria Historical Society. She has also been a mainstay of the Daughters of the American Revolution, a published historian, and a member of the Historic Alexandria Resources Commission. Because of her continuing service to the Historical Society, Anne is not eligible for the annual History Award, but there is no one more deserving of the gratitude and recognition of our city.


2001 – T. Michael Miller

The Society bestowed a Special Award on T. Michael Miller, a long-time Board member and former president (1994-96) and vice president (1992-1994). A perverse side effect of such permanent service on the Board is that it renders an individual ineligible for the annual History Award. As a consequence, the other Board members unanimously voted to surprise Mike with a Special Award as a token of appreciation for his unparalleled contributions to the study of Alexandria history. Mike is the research historian for the Office of Historic Alexandria and served in a similar capacity with the Alexandria library special collections division (Lloyd House) for many years. He is the editor of the Alexandria Chronicle, the Society’s quarterly, and formerly published the Library’s Fireside Sentinel. He is the author or compiler of many books of historical or genealogical interest. Perhaps the most notable is A Seaport Saga (a collaboration with William Francis Smith), the third edition of which will soon be printed by the Society and the Alexandria Library Company.


2000 – Dee Gavey (Mrs. T.W.) and Emmy Stuart (Mrs. Douglas B.)

In recognition to the important contributions to the Alexandria history community made by volunteer docents at Alexandria’s museums and historic sites, these ladies were honored for each having served over 25 years as a docent. Dee Gavey has been a docent at Carlyle since it reopened to the public in January 1976. Emmy Stuart was at the Boyhood Home of Robert E. Lee for over 25 years.


1995 – Effie Crittenden Dunstan

Effie Crittenden Dunstan was born in Montgomery, Alabama, educated at Florida State College in Tallahassee, admitted to the Alabama bar in 1934 and to the United States Supreme Court in 1944, and served as Assistant Attorney General of Alabama. She moved with her husband, Arthur, to Alexandria in 1949 and developed her continuing passion for Alexandria history. I t is unlikely that any other person has been active (and not simply a nominal member) in so many historic, preservation and other civic and community projects and organizations in Alexandria and Northern Virginia as has Effie Dunstan. Beginning in 1958 as a member of the Junior League of Alexandria, she organized the Gunston Hall Docents Association. During her presidency of the Alexandria Association, she helped found, in 1974, the Alexandria Historical Society and became its registered legal agent, a responsibility she continues to exercise. Some would consider her the “founding mother” of the Alexandria Historical Society. Effie Dunstan is the author of “Colonial Alexandria, 1749-1776: the Governmental Power Structure,” which appeared in Alexandria, A Composite History, Vol. I, and has also contributed to The City of Washington: An Illustrated History, published by the Junior League of Washington. She authored many constitutions and by-laws, including those for the Carlyle House and the Alexandria Historical Society. Effie Dunstan was, in 1974, a founding member of the Historic Alexandria Docents and, in 1984, a founder and member of the first board of trustees for the Preservation Alliance. She has been an active member (and often a director or officer) of the Library Company, the Friends of Lloyd House, the Friends of Carlyle House, the Carlyle House Garden Guild, the Historic Alexandria Foundation, the vestry of Emanuel Church-on-the-Hill, the Lyceum Company, and various other city commissions and committees. In 1985, she was the recipient of the prestigious Burke Award, which honors those who have contributed outstanding philanthropic and humanitarian services to the Alexandria community.

1994 – Mr. and Mrs. John H. Joynt

The Historical Society takes particular pleasure in offering a special commendation to Mrs. May Joynt and the late Howard Joynt for their long abiding efforts in the preservation field and also for their munificent gift of silver – which is on display at the Lyceum – to the City of Alexandria. For many years, Mr. Joynt served as chairman of the Historic Alexandria Preservation Restoration Commission which administers the Lloyd House, now occupied by the Alexandria library and its historic genealogical collection. He also supported the Carlyle House Historic Park and became president of the Carlyle House Foundation in 1984. Throughout the years the Joynts gave generously of their time and knowledge to many local organizations and their support of historic preservation helped to establish the high standards which we appreciate and continue to practice.