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Capt. Elias Davis House (1804)

The Captain Elias Davis House, built in 1804 by one of Gloucester's most successful sea captains, houses much of the Museum's Furniture and Decorative Arts Collection.

Six of the house's 12 rooms are open to visitors. In keeping with life in the early 19th century, the Captain Elias Davis House is furnished and decorated with domestic and personal items.

Many of the objects in the house actually belonged to Elias Davis and his descendants, and include:

  • A drawing of the Davis family crest from County Hereford, England.
  • A portrait of the Captain painted c.1790 by an unknown Antwerp artist.
  • The outfitted medicine chest and instruction book used by Captain Davis in his role as ship's doctor.
  • Passports for two Davis family vessels, the ship Cadmus and the brig Augusta, signed by James Madison and John Adams respectively. 
  • The rockerless wooden cradle used by Elias Davis, Jr. aboard ship when he traveled with his parents.
  • A sampler stitched by Captain Davis's daughter Mary, naming all 13 of the Captain's children.
  • A pencil drawing of the house itself, done from memory by son Soloman Haskell Davis in 1830 while he was away at sea.


Just across Federal Street, adjacent to the Museum, is a virtual twin to the Davis house. It was built by the widow of another prosperous Gloucester businessman, Samuel Somes. The Davis house was designed and constructed by housewright Jacob Smith and copied by his younger brother for the Somes family.