Centro Ashe has been opening up a whole new pathway in life for me to joyfully skip down. My head whips back and forth at stoplights marveling at the stands of roadside echinacea, I'm cultivating new acquaintances in my garden like motherwort and hyssop, I'm kneeling in stranger's front yards and on sidewalk cracks trying to identify new plants and now a whole new genera of museums has come to my attention.
And luckily I have one in my own backyard.
The Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary has been here the whole time. In fact it's been here almost as long as Alexandria itself - starting in 1792 and running till 1933.
As we toured the apothecary with it's glass bottles full of magically colored powders, tiny crystal vials and heavy wooden drawers full of herbs I couldn't help but daydream about a modern apothecary. A renascence of people using whole plants to support their lives. Beautiful shops full of gorgeous tinctures and salves and teas and a marble soda fountain.
This used to be the norm.
As you climb the stairs to the room with floor to ceiling drawers, all hand painted with herbal names, you can't help but feel like you've stepped into a Harry Potter story with drawers like Mandrake Root, Unicorn Root and Dragon's Blood Reeds.
The tour is a quick 30 minutes and winds through the wholly unchanged two floors of the apothecary. Even the powders and liquids still smudged into bottles are original from the 1930's when the apothecary shut its doors. The docent carries an iPad with pictures of herbs pulled up to show you what Unicorn Root actually looks like and to pull up lists of herbal actions for the inquisitive herbalist visitor.
105 -107 South Fairfax Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
703 - 746 - 3852
Tours start at 15 till or 15 after the hour.
Admission is $5