The John Marshall House
The John Marshall House was the Richmond home of "the Great Chief Justice" from 1790 to 1835. The longest serving Chief Justice to date, Marshall was known as the "definer of the Constitution" and a shaper of the modern Unites States Supreme Court. He was a true Founding Father, serving in local and state government as well as the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the United States Government. Marshall was also well known locally as a leading member of Richmond society and a gracious and jovial host.
John Marshall, and his wife, Mary Willis (Polly) Ambler Marshall, built this house in Richmond's fashionable Court End neighborhood between 1788 and 1790. The Federal style structure has a large room and entry hall on the ﬁrst floor for public entertaining as well as a family dining room and drawing room for smaller gatherings. There were bedchambers on the second floor and work space and storage in the cellar. In this house Marshall was able to lead a comfortable life, raise a growing family and entertain fellow lawyers and prominent members of Richmond society.
Listed on the National and Virginia historic registers, the House has undergone remarkably few changes since Marshall's lifetime. The property remained in the Marshall family until
1911 when it was sold to the City of Richmond. The house was then saved from impending demolition by local preservationists. Preservation Virginia has operated The John Marshall House as a museum since 1913. The home contains the largest collection of furnishings and memorabilia associated with Marshall's family and career.
John Marshall was appointed the fourth Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court in 1801 and served until his death in 1835, making him the longest serving Chief Justice in United States history.
Through a series of inﬂuential court decisions, John Marshall reshaped the court into the powerful and effective body that it is today. Marshall's most famous decision, Marbury v. Madison (1803), established the principle of judicial review over the executive and legislative branches. Marshall's other opinions would go on to uphold the sanctity of contracts, personal property rights, and protect free and open commerce.
John Marshall married Mary Willis Ambler on January 3, 1783. By all period accounts, they were devoted and attentive partners throughout their union. John Marshall shared many of his concerns about the shaping of the nation with his wife and respected her opinion on many issues. His letters to her help to build an understanding of Marshall's character
During Marshall's lifetime, the house sat on four lots that took up a full city block. It was part of a complex that also included a garden, law ofﬁce, laundry, kitchen, stable and smoke house. Here, Marshall, his family and the enslaved and white servants who made up his household worked and lived in the heart of the growing city of Richmond.
[right] 1796 insurance policy from the Mutual Assurance Company of Richmond.