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Polly Hulfish Collection (MS408)

Identifier: MS408
Records kept by Polly Hulfish during the time the Old Alexandria Restoration, Inc. organization was in business (1961-1974). These records consist of documents pertaining to almost 100 houses in Alexandria purchased and renovated/restored by the organization. Documents include those covering the purchase and sale of each property, receipts from the businesses that provided services and materials, tax records, employment records, blueprints and drawings, photographs, news items, all Corporation records, and miscellaneous notes.


  • 1961-1972



100000000 Cubic Feet

Biographical / Historical

Marianne Minniegerode Maigne “Polly” was born July 24, 1906 in Manila, Philippine Islands, to Charles Hulfish and Florence English Davidson Hulfish, while her father was stationed as a Lieutenant in the Army's 7th Cavalry. After her parent's divorce, Polly lived with her grandparents in Alexandria, Virginia, where her mother was a successful historic house preservationist and landlord. Polly eventually studied art at the Corcoran and at the National School of Fine and Applied Art and became a decorative artist. Her talents and abilities were in constant demand until she was well into mid-life when her focus turned to house renovation.

Polly married Tom Hulfish, Jr., in 1929 and eventually returned to Alexandria. After Polly's mother died in 1942, she inherited the family home along with her rental properties. Renovating her own home, managing rental houses as well as keeping up with her art commissions and raising her children kept her busy and in the late 1950s she decided it was time to update the rental properties. While updating these houses, she purchased others to save and renovate and thus was born the passion for saving older homes that otherwise might have met the wrecking ball. By January 1961, she formed Old Alexandria Restoration, Inc. From 1961 through 1974, the organization and Polly dramatically transformed about 50 houses in Alexandria. These homes became known as "Polly Houses." She touched about the same number of homes through smaller restoration and renovation projects. Thus her reach was extensive with the Old Historic District.

While working, Polly served on the Alexandria Architectural Review Board for nine years. She was honored both by the city of Alexandria and the Alexandria Historical Restoration and Preservation Commission for the work she did within the old and historic districts of Alexandria. Polly retired from her post on the AAR board in 1976 and died October 17, 1981.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Sherry Hulfish Browne, 2018.
Polly Hulfish Collection Finding Aid
K Holtz
Description rules
Language of description

Revision Statements

  • 2019: Finding aid was revised by Gregory Pierce to reflect re-housing.

Repository Details

Part of the Local History and Special Collections Branch, Alexandria Library Repository

717 Queen Street
Alexandria VA 22314 United States