Washington slept here, really!
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
Mansion built in 1765
by British Colonel Roger Morris and the oldest
house in New York City.
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.
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.
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....
new york buildings