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RICHMOND
John Marshall House

John Marshall House

John Marshall House
City of Richmond
Department of Community Development

 

The John Marshall House, home of the distinguished Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court for 45 years, is a surviving early residential building in a section of Richmond that now has office and hospital buildings. Like many Richmonders during his time, Marshall owned a “square”, or four large lots that comprised a city block. Famous Richmond preservationist Mary Wingfield Scott referred to such properties as "plantations-in-town," with their auxiliary buildings and gardens in addition to the main houses. Marshall's square included the house, his law office, a laundry, kitchen, carriage house and stable, and garden.

Begun in 1788 and completed in 1790, the house became Marshall’s home when he was emerging as leader of the Federalist Party in Virginia. While serving in Congress and in President John Adams’ cabinet, Marshall was often away in Washington D.C. After becoming Chief Justice in 1801, however, he was able to spend significantly more time at home in Richmond, when the Supreme Court was not in session. He traveled to Washington, D.C. when the court was in session. He also traveled when serving as a Federal district judge. Marshall undoubtedly wrote many of his important opinions at this address, where he resided until the end of his distinguished judicial career and his death in 1835. Justice Marshall participated in more than 1,000 decisions during his 30 years on the Supreme Court, some with lasting importance in strengthening the Federal Government and the Supreme Court.

The brick house with its temple-front, four-room plan, and Adamesque interior looks much as it did when Marshall owned it. It combines Federal characteristics such as Flemish-bond brickwork, a Roman temple pediment, and Neo-classical motifs with Georgian elements including rubbed brick lintels, an English-bond brick water table, and paneled interior walls and wainscoting. Archeological and architectural analysis of the house revealed that the porches on three sides of the house were not part of the original construction. Declarations of insurance issued by the Mutual Assurance Society indicate that Marshall made several modifications to the house prior to 1815.

The property remained in the Marshall family until 1911. The City of Richmond then bought it to build the now demolished John Marshall High School, which stood directly behind the house. Today the John Marshall Courthouse fills half of the original square. The Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities Preservation Virginia administers the house, which has been open to the public since 1913.

Plan your visit

The John Marshall House, a National Historic Landmark, is located at 818 E. Marshall St. between 9th and Marshall Sts. in downtown Richmond. Click here for the National Historic Landmark registration file.  Operated as a house museum by the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (APVA), the house features a collection of furnishings and artifacts, many belonging to the Marshall family, and is open to the public Tuesday-Saturday 10:00am to 4:30pm, Sunday 12:00 to 5:00pm.  A Court End Passport includes admission to the John Marshall House, the Valentine History Center, the Wickham-Valentine House, and Monumental Church (open weekends May through October). Fees for adults are $10, seniors/students $7.  For additional information call 804-648-7998 or visit the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities Preservation Virginia or the John Marshall Foundation websites. The John Marshall House has been documented by the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey. The John Marshall House is the subject of an online lesson plan, The Great Justice at Home. The lesson plan has been produced by the National Park Service’s Teaching with Historic Places program, which offers a series of online classroom-ready lesson plans on registered historic places. To learn more, visit the Teaching with Historic Places home page.

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