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The Parker-Gray neighborhood is located in the northwestern quadrant of Old Town Alexandria, roughly bounded by Cameron Street to First Street, and North Columbus streets to Buchanan and North West streets. Better known today as “Uptown,” Parker-Gray is mostly comprised of small row houses and townhomes, as well as a scattered commercial district. It is the largest historically black neighborhood in the city.
The neighborhood is named for the 1920 Parker Gray School honoring two respected black educators, Sarah A Gray, principal of Hallowell School for Girls and John Parker, principal of Snowden School for Boys. The City of Alexandria consolidated the two schools by erecting the Parker-Gray School, which eventually housed both elementary and high school students. Following desegregation, the school became Parker-Gray Middle School; closed in 1979, was later razed and replaced with townhouses, then became the site of the Alexandria City Public Schools HQ.
Architecture in Parker-Gray is a mix of popular 19th-century styles, including Colonial Revival, Greek Revival, Queen Anne, Georgian and Federal. A good deal of public housing was built between the early 1940s and 1959 in the Colonial Revival rowhouse style. Later, the Art Deco and Streamline Modern architectural styles made appearances in Parker-Gray.
In 2010, portions of Uptown-Parker-Gray were added to the National Register of Historic Places. The Uptown-Parker-Gray Historic District contains close to one thousand contributing buildings and structures. The Parker-Gray District Board of Architectural Review oversees historic preservation efforts in the community.
The Alexandria Black History Museum is located in the neighborhood. Among those featured there is professional basketball player Earl Lloyd, who was the first black player in the NBA and a native of Parker-Gray.