Maritime Heritage Center

Senator John Warner Maritime Heritage Center, Home Port of Tall Ship Providence

Tall Ship Providence serves as a floating classroom, educates visitors on the role that the Continental Navy (particularly Providence) played in the American Revolution, and showcases Alexandria’s history as a port city. 


Visitors learn how Providence became the first ship authorized by the Continental Congress for the Continental Navy, see where Sailors lived and meet Captain John Paul Jones, who will enthrall them with a sea story or two. Our character and historical interpreters educate visitors on Colonial American history by engaging with and entertaining them.


When you experience Providence, something special happens. A seed is planted in children and they ask questions, which helps develop an interest in learning more about American history. We know the more kids learn and have fun learning, the more they want to learn.

To me history ought to be a source of pleasure. It isn’t just part of our civic responsibility. To me it’s an enlargement of the experience of being alive, just the way literature or art or music is. -David McCullough

Senator John Warner

In our expansive search to select someone to honor with their name on our new visitor center, one person stood out for his service to the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Marine Corps, his country, the Commonwealth of Virginia and the city of Alexandria — Senator John Warner. His life embodies all that a public servant should be, and his close ties to Alexandria began in childhood and continued until his death in 2021.


A graduate of Washington and Lee University and the University of Virginia Law School, Senator Warner enlisted in the Navy at the age of 17, served in World War II, and later joined the Marine Corps as an officer in the Korean War. He clerked for a federal judge and worked as an Assistant U.S. Attorney before joining the law firm of Hogan and Hartson, now Hogan Lovells, a firm he returned to after his career in the Senate.

John Warner served as Under Secretary and Secretary of the Navy before being selected to oversee the American Revolution Bicentennial Administration celebrating the 200th anniversary of our nation. Elected to the Senate in 1978, Senator Warner represented Virginia with great distinction for five terms, making him the second longest serving Senator in the history of Virginia. His tenure was marked by his leadership as Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and landmark public works and environmental legislation. Mentoring future leaders was an important hallmark of his life as was educating others about maritime history.


Senator Warner received a number of distinctions including the naming of a Virginia-class submarine, USS John Warner (SSN-785), the National Intelligence Distinguished Public Service Medal, and an honorary knighthood (KBE) from Queen Elizabeth II. In addition, Senator Warner was recognized for his service to the United States Marine Corps by having a building — The John Warner Center for Advanced Military Studies — named in his honor at the Marine Corps University at the Marine Corps Base in Quantico, Virginia. The Tall Ship Providence Foundation celebrates the career of this remarkable Virginian by naming our Maritime Heritage Center for his commitment to the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Marine Corps, the City of Alexandria, the Commonwealth of Virginia and his service to this country. 

John Warner, U.S. Senate campaign, 1978. Courtesy U.S. Senate Historical Office