It has the MacArthur Center looming over its backyard these days, but this handsome early-Federal brick town house was in Norfolk's oldest residential neighborhood when it was built by Moses Myers and his wife, Eliza, who came to Norfolk in 1787. They were the first Jews to settle here, and programs in observance of Jewish holidays are among the museum's annual events. Some 70% of the furniture and decorative arts displayed belonged to the first generation of the family, which lived here until 1930. Two Gilbert Stuart portraits of Mr. and Mrs. Myers hang in the drawing room, which contains some distinctive Empire pieces. The fireplace surround has unusual carvings depicting a sun god -- with the features of George Washington. Tours lasting 1 hour and covering both houses depart from the Freemason Street Reception Center at 401 E. Freemason St. (tel. 757/441-1526).
A block away is the Norfolk History Museum at the Willoughby-Baylor House, 601 E. Freemason St. (tel. 757/441-1526), which also is administered by the Chrysler Museum of Art. The Willoughby-Baylor House was built in 1794 by Capt. Thomas Willoughby, whose ancestor, Capt. Thomas Willoughby I, received a royal grant of 200 acres in 1636, of which 50 acres became the city of Norfolk. The museum uses objects from the Chrysler Museum of Art's collections to explain Norfolk's history. Its garden is designed like Colonial gardens at the time it was built.