Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Shop

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Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Shop
The Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Shop/Museum is a historic apothecary's shop in Alexandria, Virginia that has been preserved as a museum. During its working life, the drug company was owned by generations of a Quaker family.

The shop has a long history with several phases. Originally founded by Edward Stabler in 1792, the business was passed down to his descendants until its closing in 1933. Shortly after it closed, the buildings were purchased by the Landmark Society who opened the old apothecary as a museum in 1939. In 2006, the museum was donated to the City of Alexandria. The museum is now managed by the City's Office of Historic Alexandria.

Edward Stabler
Edward Stabler, apothecary, founded the shop in 1792 at the corner of King and Fairfax Streets. In 1796, he moved his operation to 107 S. Fairfax. Edward's son, William Stabler, took over the management of the shop in 1819.

William Stabler
William Stabler inherited the business upon the death of Edward in 1831. In 1845, he purchased a warehouse.

John Leadbeater
John Leadbeater, William Stabler's brother-in-law, took over the business in 1852 upon the death of Stabler. There is a legend that Robert E. Lee was in the store when he received the orders to put down John Brown's raid in 1859.

E.S. Leadbeater
John's son Edward took over the shop when John died in 1860. The Union-supporting family nearly lost the enterprise to the Confederates. Shortly after the First Battle of Bull Run, victorious but exhausted Union soldiers sought comfort from the store's merchandise. In the early 20th Century, the drug store's business was good. Deliveries were made to several states, and there was a lucrative wholesale business.

The tough times of the Great Depression put the Leadbeater Drug Co., now the oldest pharmacy in the United States out of business, but the Landmarks Society of Alexandria recognized the history of the establishment and purchased it. It reopened as a museum in 1932. In 2004, the museum was closed for renovations, and when it was reopened in 2006, it was donated to the City of Alexandria.

Current museum
The museum displays thousands of artifacts, precisely on the shelves where they were when the store closed. The store also still features antebellum gothic revival furnishing. After an in-depth restoration in 2006 by The City of Alexandria, the second floor is now included on tours of the museum. The second floor contains a former warehouse room currently used for events, and a manufacturing room, where medicines were made for retail and wholesale. Like the historic retail space on the main floor of the museum, the manufacturing room is practically untouched since 1933. The museum offers daily tours for individuals and families, and group tours by appointment. Tours are not free, due to ongoing cost associated with maintaining and operating the museum. The museum's hours vary depending on the season, closing on certain days during the winter.

Famous customers
  • Elisha C. Dick, George Washington's doctor, during Washington's terminal illness
  • Martha Washington (1802)
  • James Monroe
  • Eleanor Parke Custis Lewis
  • Robert E. Lee (bought paint for the Arlington House)