Alexandria museum exhibit commemorates women’s 150-year-old health care enterprise

A new museum exhibit in Alexandria, Virginia, remembers the women who brought the city its first permanent health care facility.

The exhibit, “Alexandria Hospital: Women Mobilize the Community,” recently opened at the Alexandria History Museum at The Lyceum.

It marks the 150-year anniversary of the founding of the Inova Alexandria Hospital, formerly called the Alexandra Infirmary, according to a statement from the city.

In December 1872, Julia Johns and her friends, who later became the Board of Lady Managers, organized the city’s first infirmary. The statement said they then opened the first facility on March 1, 1873.

Because of the board’s actions, people no longer needed to travel to Richmond or Washington for hospital care, according to the city’s website.

More than 40 years later, Alexandria’s first “purpose-built” hospital facility was constructed in 1917 on the 700 block of Duke Street funding operating rooms, wards, and other facilities, according to the website.

The history museum’s exhibit focuses on women’s activism in operating the hospital and gathering the support of organizations such as the Colored Citizen’s Association, Hospital Auxiliary Board, The Twig Junior Auxiliary, businesses, churches and schools.

Artifacts on display include a Minute Book, dated to about 1900, from the Board of Lady Managers; Dr. Henry M. Ladrey’s circa 1960 medical bag and stethoscope and a candy striper uniform from the 1980s.

The exhibit will be at the Alexandria History Museum for about a year, until October 29.

The Alexandria History Museum at The Lyceum is located at 201 S. Washington Street, Alexandria, and is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 1-5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is free for City of Alexandria residents. For more information, visit

Hugh Garbrick

Hugh graduated from the University of Maryland’s journalism college in 2020. While studying, he interned at the Queen Anne & Magnolia News, a local paper in Seattle, and reported for the school’s Capital News Service. Hugh is a lifelong MoCo resident, and has listened to the local radio quite a bit.

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