PBS’ first American drama in nearly a decade is inspired by real events of Civil War Alexandria, Virginia. Set in 1862, the second season of MERCY STREET picks up directly from the dramatic events at the end of the season one finale, continuing to explore the growing chaos within Alexandria, the complicated interpersonal dynamics of Dr. Foster, Nurse Mary and the Mansion House staff, the increasingly precarious position of the Green family and the changing predicament of the burgeoning black population.

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; filled with civilians, female volunteers, doctors, wounded soldiers from both sides, free blacks, enslaved and contraband (escaped enslaved people living behind Union lines) African -Americans, prostitutes, speculators and spies.

As fans of the PBS Civil War medical drama MERCY STREET anticipate the show’s return for a second season on January 22, 2017, visitors are invited to visit the city’s historic sites to enjoy new exhibits and events inspired by the series, including several that focus on Civil War-era cultural customs including food, fashion and music. 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.

First Look at MERCY STREET Season 2

Mercy Street Inspired Experiences

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 ›
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 ›
Guided Tours Alexandria has some extraordinary MERCY STREET inspired tours for those who prefer an in-depth and personalized experience. Learn More ›
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 ›
Video: MERCY STREET Cast Tours Alexandria Watch as the cast of MERCY STREET tours the real sites that inspired the PBS drama. View videos ›

Civil War Cultural Customs

Viewers and visitors getting to know the rich history of Alexandria during the Civil War can explore a variety of cultural customs, including the fashion, food and music of the era, through a variety of events in the city.

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.

Medicine and Mercy in Alexandria: The Real Apothecary Fans of Mercy Street can explore the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum, which feels more like a time-machine, where the real-life Green family… Learn more ›
Apothecary of Mercy Specialty Tour On this 45 minute tour, explore the themes of PBS’ MERCY STREET through the lens of this family-owned apothecary that stayed in business through… Learn More ›
This Terrible Disease Exhibit Visitors can take a guided tour and experience the historic space where occupied Alexandria came to shop for medicinal remedies for the various… Learn More ›
Who These Wounded Are The six-part program revolves around the doctors, nurses, and patients of Mansion House Hospital, a former luxury hotel owned by James Green, a… Learn More ›
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, Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial, the Archaeology Museum and other historic sites.

Contrabands 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 ›
Alexandria’s Nurses & Hospitals During the Civil War. Photo:… Learn the true stories of actual nurses in Alexandria during the war. See the Exhibit ›