It was a beautiful, rolling verdant countryside here in Loudoun County, rural in every regard, which P. Howell Lightfoot had returned to in 1911 after many years in the west working in hospital management. Soon his stories about small hospitals being built around the country fell on interested ears. For several years two prominent local physicians, Dr. William C. Orr and Dr. John A. Gibson, had felt Leesburg needed a hospital desperately. Babies were delivered at home and minor surgical procedures were performed either in patients’ homes or in doctors’ offices under unsatisfactory conditions. Patients in need of major surgery were transported to a Washington hospital on a cot in the baggage care of the local railroad, suffering great discomfort and danger.
It was in Horace Littlejohn’s drug store that the plan took share. And while Dr. Orr, Dr. Gibson and pharmacist Littlejohn worked out the details, Mr. Lightfoot toured the county, explaining the need for a hospital. A group of 11 dedicated citizens banded together, and on June 5, 1912, Leesburg Hospital opened in a rented house and hastily admitted its first patient…fittingly, a jockey thrown from his horse in a race.
Philanthropy Runs Through it
With $100 in the bank and pledges for $2,000 the officers and directors of the new hospital rented the Market Street building from Captain Garrett for $30
Dr. William Clayton Orr was a graduate of Virginia Medical College. He came to Hillsboro First “with his horse and buggy and $40” and later moved to Leesburg. A favorite story tells How he used to lure the town’s nigh watchman into riding out on house calls with him “just to the edge of town” and the man would find himself on the way to Oatlands or some equally distant point. Dr. Orr’s name and service continued on through his son Dr. Robert Orr, who practiced for many years in Leesburg.
Dr. John A. Gibson, a graduate of the University of Maryland, was also a very civic-minded man. Dr. Gibson liked to call himself “the country doctor,” and he likved up to his name. Once during a terrible snowstorm he hired a horse and sleigh and went out to make calls. He came back that evening riding the horse. Even the sleigh couldn’t get through.
Mr. Horace Littlejohn was a respected pharmacist in Leesburg for 61 years. For decades, in the front of his drug store on Kind Street young people met and made dates, but it was in the back room where influential discussions took place, as the gentlemen who were the town’s leaders sat around and played a card game called “Set-Back." Mr. Littlejohn served as treasurer of the hospital for 37 years without compensation.