Wolfe Street Hospitals

500 Wolfe St Alexandria

Alexandria's Civil War Hospitals/Wolfe Street Hospitals
Alexandria Archaeology Museum
Written By Alexandria Archaeology Museum

Two large residences and a Friends' (Quaker) Meeting House made up the complex of Union hospitals on the 500 and 600 block of Wolfe Street. Today, only 510 Wolfe Street still stands. Tuscan Villa has been replaced by late 20th century townhouses and the site of the meeting house is now the home of the Little Theatre of Alexandria.

Tuscan Villa -- 508 Wolfe St.

Built in the Italianate style that became popular in the U.S. in the earlier part of the 1800s, the Tuscan Villa was a private residence commanding the corner of Prince and S. Pitt Streets. However, the 1911 Photographic History of the Civil War labels this building as the Friends’ Meeting House, which was actually a block away at 600 Wolfe St. and was also used as a Union hospital. After the war it once again became a residence passing through the hands of several wealthy and successful families. In the 1920s, passed through a series of owners and occupants before a Jewish congregation acquired it in 1927 when it became the synagogue for the Agudas Achim Congregation. The Congregation sold the building in 1946 to a local post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and it became a Moose Lodge in the 1950s. By the early 1960s, it was vacant and acquired for development of townhouses.

510 Wolfe Street

John Vowell, a local merchant originally built a small home on this site. The property later was transferred to his daughter, wife of one of Alexandria’s wealthiest and most influential lawyers: Francis L. Smith. The well-known attorney replaced the Vowell homestead with one of the largest homes ever built in Alexandria. At the start of the Civil War, Smith and his family fled Alexandria for safer environs in Richmond. Federal authorities quickly seized the home for military use. The Smith dwelling initially was converted into the headquarters of General John Slough, an aggressive, idiosyncratic man known for his peculiar behavior and hostile temper who was the military governor of Alexandria. As the war waged on, the Smith home was transformed again, this time into a military hospital where upwards of 100 soldiers recuperated in its opulent rooms. Smith returned to Alexandria after the war and restored his sacked dwelling as a residence. It is there, in 1870, that Smith explained to his well-known client Robert E. Lee the tremendous challenges associated with regaining the title to his wife’s family estate known as “Arlington,” which had been seized and converted into a national cemetery.

Friends Meeting House

Built in 1811, the Friends "Quaker" Meeting House was used as a hospital closely associated with the Wolfe Street and Tuscan Villa Hospitals one block to the east on Wolfe Street. An image labeled Friends Meeting-House in the 1911 The Photographic History of the Civil War in Ten Volumes is misidentified and instead shows the much more impressive Tuscan Villa. After the war, the Alexandria Friends Society nearly dissolved and the property was leased for a school, and then a church. During one Sunday service, the second floor collapsed without any major injuries. The building was demolished in the 1880s.

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Alexandria's Civil War Hospitals

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