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 Morris-Jumel Mansion

 
 

    Take the "A" Train!

   

 

  

 

George Washington slept here, really!  

 

One of the greatest pleasures of living in New York is to discover and explore -- hidden away beneath soaring skyscrapers and summer blue skies -- treasures from the past woven into the fabric of the city: a specialized museum or a désuet turn-of-the-century brownstone now a three-star restaurant in a neighborhood that is stirring with new life.  This summer, eCognoscente says take the A train to visit the Palladian-style Morris-Jumel Mansion built in 1765 by British Colonel Roger Morris and the oldest house in New York City. 

 

Located on a hilltop at West 160th Street with historic buildings (555 Edgecombe across the street was home to Duke Ellington) and the charming 19th century wooden row houses of cobble-stoned Sylvan Terrace a perfect backdrop to the mansion and its large verdant garden. 

 

The mansion tells a fascinating, parallel history of the United States.  With the start of the Revolutionary War, the Morrises who were Loyalists returned to England and the house changed hands, becoming a Yankee possession.  George Washington took it over as his headquarters for a short time in 1776.  Perhaps he chose it for its commanding views; he was, after all, fighting a war.   Years later, in 1790, Washington revisited Jumel Mansion to dine along with John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and Henry Knox after touring Fort Washington.  Oh to have been a fly on the wall at that august gathering!  The mansion later served as an inn until 1810 when it was restored by Stephen Jumel and his wife Eliza.  The City of New York bought the house in 1903 and has preserved it as a museum ever since. 

 


The octagonal living room

 

At the Jumel Mansion are restored period rooms including George Washington’s office, the lovely octagonal living room, a dining room with 19th century pottery and glass, a fall-front desk which belonged to Eliza‘s second  husband, the infamous Aaron Burr (they were married in the front parlor of the house, later divorced).  Also a bed which she averred had belonged to Napoleon!  A country’s early history partly captured in a house, a perfect Manhattan afternoon getaway -- for a few hours step back in time and walk among the shades of Washington and Hamilton with the jazz of Duke Ellington wafting through the summer air.... 

 

Visit: Morris-Jumel Mansion

Read: 1776, David McCullough

 

Tags: new york buildings


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