Founded in 1749, Alexandria quickly became an important inland port. Its prosperous inhabitants built handsome houses, churches, and commercial buildings, many of which now comprise the historic district’s core. As the most significant commercial center in northern Virginia, Alexandria flourished from its founding until after the Civil War. George Washington and Robert E. Lee were among its frequent visitors and residents. The buildings in the district include merchants’ mansions, slave-traders’ quarters, inns, banks, cultural centers, churches, and government offices. During the Civil War, the Unionist Restored Government of Virginia was located there.