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Home Of Chief Justice John Marshall

( Originally Published 1932 )



The John Marshall House, situated at Ninth and Marshall Streets, is among the few old homes in Richmond which retain their original lines and preserve something of their old-world atmosphere. John Marshall, born in 1755, son of Thomas and Mary Keith Marshall his wife, as youthful soldier, rising young lawyer, recognized statesman, and consummate jurist, holds a place in our history which makes his home a shrine to reverence and conserve.

The land on which the home stands was bought by him in 1789. The deed, drawn in his own handwriting, hangs on the wall of the room you first enter, and beside it his application, dated 1796, for fire insurance on the present house and a number of outhouses-kitchen, stable, "Iandra," shed all of wood, and a brick office. The lot consisted of the block now occupied by the John Marshall High School, named in his honor.

The house stands four-square with thick walls and no out-ward adornments. Three simple porches gives access to as many doors. On entering, one instantly admires the dignity of the rooms, their beauty of proportion, and the refinement of the woodwork. The excellent panelling extends to the ceiling on one side of several of the rooms, and the high mantels and cornices are decorated with restrained relief work in plaster. The date of the building is about 1790. The ground floor consists of a hall, pantry, a small wing room, and three charming apartments-parlor, library, and dining room. An interesting stairway leads to the second story where there are two halls, a dressing room, and three large bedchambers.

Here was Marshall's home until 1835, his beloved refuge from exacting duties in Washington, and the shrine where he enthroned his adored wife. Here, too, we may be sure the Marshall children and their cousins filled the house with life and laughter, in which the genial Chief Justice would be sure to join. Here gathered the notables of that day for the famous dinner parties his hospitality was never tired of providing. From this house he went to preside over the trial of Aaron Burr, in the Capitol, a stone's throw away. From here he buried his beloved Polly, and here his body was brought when he himself passed away in Philadelphia, in 1835.

The house is now in the care of the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, and is maintained as a museum and the official home of the association.

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