PBS’ first American drama in nearly a decade is inspired by real events of Civil War Alexandria, Virginia. Set in 1862, Mercy Street. follows the lives of two volunteer nurses on opposite sides of the conflict; Mary Phinney (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a staunch New England abolitionist, and Emma Green (Hannah James), a young Confederate belle. The two collide at Mansion House Hospital, the Green family’s luxury hotel that has been taken over as a Union Army Hospital in Alexandria.

Just outside of Washington, D.C., Alexandria was a border town between North and South and the longest Union-occupied city of the Civil War. Ruled under martial law, Alexandria was the melting pot of the region; a place where personal stories of the Union and Confederacy converge in a city setting.

Today, visitors can get a close look at the stories that inspired Mercy Street at Alexandria’s historic sites, with more than two dozen new exhibits, events and tours. Visitor experiences uncover the real people behind the characters on the show, the realities of Civil War medicine, changing roles for women, and the breakthrough experience of enslaved African Americans claiming their freedom.

Mercy Street Poster

Mercy Street Inspired Experiences

Video: MERCY STREET Cast Tours Alexandria Watch as the cast of MERCY STREET tours the real sites that inspired the PBS drama. View videos ›
Alexandria Brings PBS’ Mercy Street to Life Get a close look at the story in Alexandria’s historic sites, with more than two dozen new tours, exhibits and events. Learn more ›
The Real Mansion House From PBS’ Mercy Street In real life, the idea for Mercy Street also began with the Mansion House, today known as the Carlyle House. Learn more ›
Top 4 MERCY STREET Inspired Sites to Visit Explore the sites where the stories in the PBS MERCY STREET drama actually happened. Visit the sites ›
MERCY STREET Inspired Exhibits and Events Experience the MERCY STREET story up close at the historic sites where the real-life soldiers, doctors and nurses depicted in the series worked and… Relive the stories ›
MERCY STREET Inspired Self-Guided Tour Fans of MERCY STREET can venture out on their self-guided walking tour and immerse themselves in the real sites and stories of Civil war Alexandria Take the tour ›
MERCY STREET Inspired Guided Tours Alexandria has some extraordinary MERCY STREET inspired tours for those who prefer an in-depth and personalized experience. Learn More ›


Hotel Monaco Alexandria"Have Mercy" Hotel Package

Experience the real inspiration behind PBS’s new television drama “Mercy Street” in Old Town Alexandria by booking the new “Have Mercy” package at Kimpton’s Hotel Monaco Alexandria.

Stay in the heart of historic Old Town Alexandria at Hotel Monaco, located just three blocks from the former Mansion House Hotel and Carlyle House as depicted in the show, and enjoy “Mercy Street”-inspired amenities.  

Civil War Era Medicine and Hospitals

The Union Army occupied Alexandria from the first days of the Civil War to the last, transforming homes, churches and public buildings into military hospitals to accommodate the flood of wounded and diseased soldiers. By the end of the war, more than 30 Federal hospitals and 6,500 sick beds were located in Alexandria. Today visitors to Alexandria can see where Union doctors shopped for supplies at Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum and explore former Civil War hospitals at historic sites.

Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum

The Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary was able to operate and remain open during occupied Alexandria. The Green Family and Union hospital staff shopped here to purchase everything from Laudanum to Cologne.



African American Experience

During the Civil War, thousands of African Americans escaping slavery sought refuge behind Union lines in Alexandria. The fugitives found freedom in Alexandria, but also a city under siege. Still, despite rampant disease and deprivation, by the end of the war they had fought for their own liberation and built communities and lives afresh. Learn about the legacy of Alexandria’s contraband community and the amazing story of their lost and rediscovered burial ground at the Alexandria Black History Museum, Freedmen Cemetery, the Archaeology Museum and other historic sites.

The Journey to Be Free Alexandria Black History Museum presents the exhibit "The Journey to Be Free: Self-emancipation and Alexandria's Contraband Heritage" Take the Journey ›
Top 4 African American History Experiences in Alexandria Find empowering stories of African Americans in our top 4 Mercy Street inspired experiences Be Inspired ›
Contraband and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial

Between 1864 and 1869, the Contrabands and Freedmen’s Cemetery served as the burial place for about 1,800 African Americans who fled to Union-occupied Alexandria to escape from bondage.


Women and the Civil War

Mary Phinney von Olnhausen arrived in Alexandria in August 1862 and was assigned to the Mansion House Hospital, the city's largest military hospital. Most of the women assigned to hospitals at this time had little or no experience with nursing, but they wanted to serve their country and do something to help ease the enormous suffering from disease and battlefield wounds during the conflict.  They often taught themselves nursing under adverse circumstances, including active hostility from the surgeons they worked with, and helped to create a profession that did not exist before the war.

The Real Women Who Inspired PBS’ MERCY STREET Take a deeper look into the lives of the the real women who inspired the MERCY STREET characters. Learn more ›