Church History

The Old Presbyterian Meeting House has a long and storied history. Over two centuries of faith and community have been celebrated inside these walls.

Learn about out history, buildings, people and more by clicking the links below.





The congregation launches the Open Table program, after Washington Street United Methodist approached us about providing a hot breakfast to those in need one day a week to supplement their two day a week breakfast. Today, three churches – OPMH, Old Town Community Church [formerly Downtown Baptist] and Washington Street Methodist – provide breakfast Monday through Friday in Old Town Alexandria.




The church’s fourth pipe organ is installed. Built by Lively-Fulcher as Opus 4, it replaces a Reuter organ that had served since 1965. It includes 35 ranks and 2,026 pipes.




The Meeting House property is conveyed to Second Presbyterian Church and is retained by that congregation until 1949. The Meeting House is used for worship services and Sunday School classes by numerous groups, including Bethany Methodist, Lee Street Chapel, Bethel Presbyterian Mission, St. Paul’s Episcopal, Disciples of Christ, Salvation Army, ship-builders and torpedo-builders during World War I, and Second Presbyterian Church.

Flounder House provides shelter for the indigent and serves as a rental property.




When George Washington dies at Mount Vernon in December 1799, four community memorial services are conducted at the Meeting House. They are led by the Rev. William Maffit, headmaster of Alexandria Academy, the Rev. Thomas Davis, Jr., of Christ Church, the Rev. James Muir of the Presbyterian Church, and the Rev. James Tolleson of the Methodist Church. The Meeting House church bell tolls from the time of Washington’s death until his interment.



The Presbyterian Cemetery and Columbarium

600 Hamilton Ln., Alexandria, VA 22314

This historic cemetery, established in 1809, is still active today.

Burials occur on a regular basis, and plots and columbarium niches are available for purchase. The cemetery operates as an independent entity overseen by the Presbyterian Cemetery Board under the authority of the Session of the Old Presbyterian Meeting House, 321 South Fairfax St., Alexandria, VA. And, while preference is given to members of the Presbyterian denomination, anyone can be buried in the cemetery, as long as the burial is conducted with dignity and respect.


Directions to the Presbyterian Cemetery from the Old Presbyterian Meeting House at 321 South Fairfax Street

  • Head south on S. Fairfax St.
  • Turn right onto Gibbon St.
  • Continue to the end of Gibbon and turn right onto S. Payne St.
  • Turn left onto Wilkes St.
  • At the sign, turn left onto Hamilton Lane. and follow it to the second cemetery gate.
To learn more about the Presbyterian Cemetery and Columbarium,

Please contact Cemetery Superintendent David Heiby at or by phone at (703) 869-0872, Monday–Friday between 9 am and 5 pm.


While access to the cemetery is currently restricted, it is open most Saturdays and by appointment. Please contact Superintendent Heiby for more information.


The Presbyterian Cemetery, a seven-acre burial ground located on Hamilton Lane one mile west of the Meeting House, was established by the congregation in 1809. Prior to that date, congregation members were interred in the churchyard burial ground.

The Presbyterian Cemetery was created in response to a yellow fever epidemic that swept through Alexandria in 1803, killed hundreds of citizens, and overwhelmed the town and church burial grounds.

In 1804, The Common Council passed an ordinance forbidding the sale of any additional burial plots within the town limits after March of that year and then passed a subsequent ordinance in 1809 banning all burials within the town limits.

When founded, the location of the cemetery was open countryside in Fairfax County, just across the boundary line between the Commonwealth of Virginia and the District of Columbia, of which Alexandria was then a part. Later annexed and now part of the City of Alexandria, the cemetery is located in the historic and active Wilkes Street Cemetery Complex, which includes 13 cemeteries within its 80 acres.


250th Anniversary

250th church anniversary alexandria va

In 2022, the Old Presbyterian Meeting House marked its 250th anniversary since the founding of the congregation in 1772. Although the festivities have ended, we share these ongoing resources. We hope you will enjoy! Consider a visit to the Meeting House for worship or another event.

Play Video

A visual celebration of our congregation’s history and present ministry, with music from the Meeting House choir and musicians.

Organs at the Meeting House

Prior to the installation of the church’s first pipe organ, congregational singing and chanting of psalms was unaccompanied or supported by a string instrument.

In 1817, Jacob Hilbus and Henry Harrison of Washington, DC built and installed the church’s first organ. This organ was destroyed in the 1835 fire and was replaced in 1849 by an organ built by Henry Erben of New York City, which was installed in the apse behind the pulpit. This organ was relocated to the rear balcony in 1927. The Reuter Organ Company of Lawrence, Kansas installed an organ on either side of the Erben in 1965. In 1997, the Erben organ was returned to its original location in the apse, the Reuter organ was donated to a local congregation, and a new instrument by Lively-Fulcher Organ Builders was installed in the rear balcony.


Lively-Fulcher Organ Builders, 1997 (Balcony)

Mark Lively and Paul Fulcher have each been building organs for more than thirty years. Their goal is simply stated: To build a small number of organs, one at a time, that are of the highest artistic quality using the finest materials available.

Mark Lively has studied music, art, history, and electrical engineering. In 1976 he established the first company in the United States to utilize Computer Aided Design (CAD) in the construction of pipe organs. In 1989 he became Tonal Director of the venerable English firm of J. W. Walker and Sons. Subsequently, he was appointed Artistic Director.

Paul Fulcher, a native of England, studied piano from an early age. His training in organ building includes a formal English apprenticeship program with J. W. Walker specializing in the voicing of pipes. He worked at Walker and Sons for twenty years, eventually becoming Head Voicer and Joint Tonal Director with Mark Lively. During this period, Lively and Fulcher were responsible for building and voicing scores of organs all over the world.

Now having joined forces as partners in the US, the Lively-Fulcher organ in the Meeting House (Opus 4) has mechanical key action with a detached console and electric stop action. The mahogany case features polished tin façade (front) pipes with carved pipe shades. The organ has 31 stops, 35 ranks, and 2026 pipes.

16′ 8′ 8′ 8′ 8′ 4′ 22/3 22/3′ 2′ 11/3' 8′
BourdonOpen DiapasonStopt DiapasonHarmonic FlutePrincipalOpen FluteTwelfthCornet IIIFifteenthFurniture IVOpen Diapason
49 pipes/12 from PD 16 Subbass61 pipes61 pipes49 pipes/ 12 from GT Stopt flute)61 pipes61 pipes61 pipes183 pipes61 pipesTrumpet61 pipes

Swell to Great Tremulant

8′ 8′ 8′ 8′ 4′ 4′ 2 2⁄3‘ 2′ 1 1⁄3‘ 1′ 16′ 8′
DiapasonChimney FluteSalicionalVoix CelestePrincipalTapered FluteSesquialtera IIFlageoletLarigotMixture IIIBassoonHautboy
(61 pipes)(61 pipes)(61 pipes)(49 pipes)(61 pipes)(61 pipes)(122 pipes)(61 pipes)(61 pipes)(183 pipes)(61 pipes)(61 pipes)


32′ 16′ 16′ 8′ 8′ 4′ 16′ 8′
Contra BourdonOpen DiapasonSubbassPrincipalBass FluteFifteenthTromboneTrumpet
(digital)(32 pipes)(32 pipes)(32 pipes)(12 pipes)(12 pipes)(32 pipes)(12 pipes)

Great to Pedal
Swell to Pedal

Henry Erben, 1849 (Apse)

Henry Erben, born in 1800, was son of Peter Erben, a distinguished New York City organist of Trinity Church. At the age of seventeen, he was apprenticed to organ builder Thomas Hall, and by 1821 was a partner in the company. Upon his death, Hall’s name was dropped from the company and business for Erben was most promising. By 1845, 153 instruments had been built including six located outside the United States. From 1847 to 1863, a branch facility was maintained in Baltimore MD for the distribution of organs to the South. When Erben died in May 1884, his obituary in the New York Tribune stated that he had built 1734 organs in his career.

The Erben organ at the Meeting House is a reflection of English organs of the period. Eight-foot stops are divided on a single manual. A pedal stop was added a few years after its 1849 installation; in 1997 the pedal board and pedal bourdon were removed into storage.*

image 217
8′ 8′ 8′ 4′ 4′ 2′ 8′ 16′
Open DiapasonStopt DiapasonDulcianaPrincipalFlutePiccoloTrumpetManual/Pedal Coupler*Bourdon*
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