James Wilson Marshall House
The Marshall House, on the National and New Jersey Registers of Historic Places, was the boyhood home of James Wilson Marshall, discoverer of gold in California in 1848, and is now the headquarters of the Lambertville Historical Society. The Federal brick structure was built in 1816 by his father, Philip Marshall, cabinet, coach and wagon maker, a member of one of the oldest families in New Jersey and by marriage to John Hart, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
Constructed of bricks made of clay dug and fired near town, it retains many outstanding, original architectural features; in particular, the decorative Adams-style frieze under the eaves, the pegged front door; also the chimney cupboards in the parlor, windows, interior doors, hardware and staircase.
The house originally sat on “44 perches of land” (about 5 acres), and included a brick kitchen, two-story back addition with first and second floor porches, a wheelwright and wagon shop, barn and smokehouse. The family sold the property at Philip’s death in 1834 and in 1882 Hugh Ely sold the property to St. John’s Roman Catholic Church for a convent. Along with two attached buildings to the east, it was the sisters’ home for 84 years.
In 1964, Mrs. Alice Narducci enlisted the help of local residents to preserve theMarshall House and ultimately persuaded the church to deed it to the N.J. Dept. of Conservation & Economic Development for preservation purposes in March 1968 rather than tear it down. The State leased the Marshall House, unrestored, to the relatively new Lambertville Historical Society. The Society’s lease stipulates that they maintain … “the Parlor, Hallways and one bedroom…and that they perpetuate and develop exhibits containing artifacts of interest to the time and locale of James Wilson Marshall and the history of the City of Lambertville.”
The parlor and one bedroom have been furnished with pieces that come as close as possible to the inventory recorded at the Hunterdon County courthouse at Philip Marshall’s death. The Society’s archives include thousands of items, including a collection of quilts. Recent exhibits include a pictorial history, called “Gil’s Journey”, tracing the still-viable shad fishing industry on Holcombe Island; an 1843 friendship quilt stamped with the names of 27 founding families; memorabilia from Lambertville’s industrial days and more.