Shortly after they were married in 1787, Moses Myers and his wife, Elizah Judah Myers, sailed from England to settle in Norfolk, Virginia. They were the first permanent Jewish settlers in Norfolk.
Moses was a successful businessman. His import/export business made him one of the first millionaires in the United States. The home that he built for his family is a testament to his wealth.
The Moses Myers house was built in 1792. It was among the first brick homes built in Norfolk after British attacks during the Revolutionary War had all but leveled Norfolk. One of the few remaining pre-Revolutionary War buildings, St. Paul's Episcopal Church, stands nearby, with a Revolutionary War cannonball still visible lodged in the brick exterior where Lord Dunmore fired it upon his retreat after being defeated during the Battle of Great Bridge.
The 13 room, federal period home sits at 331 Bank Street. Moses and Elizah raised 12 children in the home that they loved. They also entertained many powerful people when they visited Norfolk. Visitors to the house, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, included President James Monroe and Daniel Webster.
Five generations of Myers lived in the house before it became a museum that was open to the public. In 1892, Barton Myers began a restoration project to bring the house back to its original glory.
An astonishing 70% of the original furnishings are still in the house along with much of the artwork by artists such as Gilbert Stuart, Thomas Sulley and Daniel Webster. Even small everyday items, such as clothing worn by Elizah, her spinning wheel and her china also remain in the house and can be seen by visitors.
There is a set of dueling pistols that some say were used in the duel between James Barron and Stephen Decatur. Another item that can be seen among the original Myers' belongings is a family bible. This may seem odd when one considers that the Myers were Jewish, but during that time Bibles were commonly used to record family births, marriages and deaths, so the Myers, even being Jewish, had a Bible that can be seen by visitors.
In 2004, work began to restore the house to the color scheme that would have been common during the early 19th century. Work was completed in 2005 and now the Moses Myers house is a fine example of a federal period home.
The rooms on the first and second floor can be seen by visitors. The outside kitchen and garden area can be viewed as well. The large number of original furnishings and other pieces that belonged to the original family make the Moses Myers house unique among museum houses.
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