The James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library has been in operation at 908 Charles Street since its opening day in 1927. The descendants of James and Elizabeth Monroe believed that this little brick building had once housed Monroe’s law office, and therefore chose it as the location for a shrine dedicated to their famous ancestor. We now know that while Monroe’s law office did once stand on this plot of land, the brick building that is here today is not old enough to have been in existence when James Monroe was practicing.
In actuality, this building is made up of three individual structures, constructed at different times, beginning in 1816. Eventually, the three buildings were combined into one. Before its life as a museum, the building had an interesting and varied story of its own. These walls housed warehouses, restaurants, a schoolhouse, and tenement housing for freed slaves following the Civil War.
Read on to learn more about the history of the Monroe family, the beginnings of the museum, and how our impressive collection came to be.