I celebrated July Fourth by visiting the Morris-Jumel Mansion in Washington Heights in upper Manhattan. Following his retreat from Brooklyn, General Washington had his headquarters here from September 14 to October 20, 1776. The house, situated on one of the highest spots in Manhattan, provided, at that time, critical unobstructed views of the surrounding area even as far as New York harbor. During this period, Washington enjoyed his first victory, which came in the Battle of Harlem Heights. Nevertheless, he and his army were soon forced to evacuate all of New York City. For the remainder of the Revolutionary War (through 1783), the house remained under British control. Later in 1790, Washington, who was now president, hosted a cabinet dinner in the mansion. Attendees included Thomas Jefferson, John Quincy Adams, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and Henry Knox.
The house, the oldest in Manhattan, was built as a Palladian-style country villa by British Colonel Roger Morris for himself and his America-born wife Mary Philipse Morris in 1765. They lived in England during the Revolutionary War and were, in fact, Loyalists ; as a result, at the conclusion of the war their property, including the house, was confiscated.
Stephen Jumel, a wealthy French immigrant merchant purchased the house in 1810 for himself and his American wife Eliza Bowen Jumel. At about this time the house was remodeled to include Federalist elements. After Stephen’s death, Eliza married Aaron Burr in 1832, but the couple divorced in 1836.
Today the house is owned by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation and is operated as a museum.
To take a virtual tour of the Morris-Jumel Mansion, begin with the photo in the upper left-hand corner of the following gallery. Alternatively, click on any photo that captures your fancy.
How to get there. The Morris-Jumel Mansion is located at 65 Jumel Terrace. To get there by subway, take the C train to 163rd Street.