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Believe It Or Not - Mutual Assurance Made it in Ripley's

Mutual Assurance Society made it into Ripley's Believe it or Not in 1934.

1934 newspaper cartoon of Ripley's Believe it or Not that features drawing of John Marshall house and Mutual Assurance Societys 138 year coverage

John Marshall, the fourth chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, is best known as the “Great Chief Justice.” He first asserted the Supreme Court's authority to determine the constitutionality of the nation's laws—a principle known as judicial review—and shaped the judicial branch into the powerful force in the U.S. government it remains today.

When Marshall was appointed chief justice, the Supreme Court had little authority relative to the president and Congress; it didn’t even have its own building, meeting instead in a vacant committee room at the Capitol. But over his 34 years as chief justice (1801-1835), Marshall shaped the judicial branch into an equal force in government alongside the executive and legislative branches.

Marshall had his home built in Richmond’s historic Court End neighborhood in 1790. In 1796, just two years after Mutual Assurance opened its doors, he became a member of the Society to protect his property. The property encompassed an entire city block and included a two-story law office, a stable, and detached outbuildings for a kitchen and laundry, as well as a small orchard, a brook, and ornamental and vegetable gardens. Eventually, it diminished in scope to occupy only a small corner lot. In 1907, Marshall's remaining two granddaughters sold the property to the City of Richmond.

When the City announced plans to demolish the house and build a high school, the leadership of Preservation Virginia protested. Preservation Virginia is a powerful non-profit organization devoted to protecting Virginia’s communities and historic places. In 1911, the house was placed in its care, restored, and opened to the public.

What is your favorite Ripley's Believe It or Not memory? The penny log cabin or the fact that you can fold a dollar bill 4000 times before it will tear? Let us know!


Sources: A History of Mutual Assurance Society of Virginia,




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