Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Shop and Museum
Backstory and Context
History of the Apothecary and Museum
The Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary shop dates back to Edward Stable’s arrival to Alexandria, VA around 1792. Fresh from an apprenticeship as an apothecary in Leesburg, Stable found a place to rent in central Alexandria and started his business in 1796. As a devout Quaker and a savvy businessman, Stable’s apothecary became very popular, and during his career, he sold his medicines to figures such as Martha Washington and Robert E. Lee. Stable kept the business in his family and included his son-in-law, John Leadbeater. By 1852, John Leadbeater bought the apothecary.
During the Civil War, Union troops occupied Alexandria and the apothecary flourished. The war brought so much favor to Leadbeater’s shop that, after the war, John Leadbeater’s son was selling to 500 pharmacies throughout Washington DC, running a mail order business, and operating from 11 buildings in Alexandria. Unfortunately, by 1933, the apothecary declared bankruptcy and concerned citizens and the American Pharmaceutical Association arranged the purchase of the apothecary’s collections, contents, and archives for private buyers; the purchased contents were donated to the Landmarks Society of Alexandria, who sold the collections and the museum to the City of Alexandria in 2006.1