The City of Alexandria is one the more compelling history destinations in the country, due in no small part to the City’s decision to integrate historic preservation into the revitalization and development. After decades of planning and delays from numerous lawsuits, redevelopment of the City of Alexandria waterfront at Point Lumley moved forward. WSSI was privileged to conduct archeological excavations at the Hotel Indigo site and expose evidence of the engineered infilling along the original shoreline: the remnants of a bulkhead wharf and a mid- to late 18th-century ship that were used as a framework to create new land.

The Challenge

The foundation of one of the earliest buildings found in Alexandria, the 1755 public warehouse, was uncovered only a few feet away from the remnants of the 18th-century ship. Given the significance of both the warehouse and the ship, the City of Alexandria wished to conserve all wood timbers for later display and use.

Our Solution

WSSI archeological staff consulted with the conservators from the Maryland Archeology Conservation (MAC) Lab, City of Alexandria staff, Naval History and Heritage Command Underwater Archaeology Branch archeologists and other experts on the best way to dismantle the two features and assisted in the dismantling process. The timber framing elements of the warehouse were removed under the direction of staff from the MAC Lab and sent to their facility. The ship timbers were removed from site and temporarily stored at a city warehouse. Staff and volunteers with Alexandria Archaeology thoroughly documented each ship timber (with some assistance from WSSI) before they were transported to Texas A&M University’s Conservation Research Laboratory for conservation.


  • Ben Brenman Award for Outstanding Professional Archaeologist, 2016, John Mullen (WSSI)
  • Ben Brenman Award for Outstanding Developer, 2016, Michael Wilson (Carr City Centers)

WHEREAS, a 2016 Brenman Award for Outstanding Professional Archaeologist is presented to John Mullen, Principal Archaeologist and Assistant Manager at Thunderbird Archaeology, a division of Wetland Studies and Solutions, Inc., for his high standards of archaeological investigation and historical study at the Hotel Indigo site, for providing new insights into the founding and development of Alexandria’s 18th-century waterfront, and for his exceptional commitment to communicating these incredible discoveries to multiple audiences.

Proclamation from the City Council of Alexandria, Virginia, Oct. 5, 2016

Project Facts
  • Owner
    Carr City Centers
  • Location
    Alexandria, VA
  • John Mullen

    Gainesville, VA

  • Daniel Baicy

    Gainesville, VA

  • Elizabeth Waters Johnson

    Gainesville, VA