Originally built in 1724 by William Ramsay, the house was probably barged up-river from Dumfries, VA to its present site after Alexandria was established in 1749. Ramsay, Alexandria's first postmaster, was a Scottish merchant and City founder.
The Visitors Center was opened in 1956. It offers comprehensive services-- orientation video, maps brochures, reservations, foreign translations of materials, tickets for special events and for Mount Vernon sold here. Seasonal walking tours depart from the Ramsay House.
On August 29, 1814, The British navy was anchored off the Alexandria waterfront—just blocks from Ramsay House—with its guns pointed at the town. British Capt. James Gordon convinced the town council to surrender and promised that his men would not damage private property. The British then spent five days looting Alexandria’s public stores and warehouses.
They loaded their ships with military supplies and commercial goods, including 16,000 barrels of flour, 1,000 hogsheads of tobacco, 150 bales of cotton and sugar and wine worth nearly $5,000. On September 2, the squadron left Alexandria and began its journey back to the Chesapeake Bay and on to Baltimore. Along the way, American forces at batteries near Mount Vernon, Virginia, and Indian Head, Maryland, attacked Captain Gordon and his men.
Alexandria avoided destruction and its residents were unharmed. But many Americans saw them as cowards and traitors.