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Harlem's Mansion

Story by Michael Flowers
photography by
Shem Rajoon


The Great history of the Morris-Jumel Mansion

Morris-Jumel Mansion 

On the highest point in Harlem rests a historical house filled with priceless artifacts from history. A mansion filled with the sweat of a woman's journey from rags to riches to the memoirs of war. This mansion is the Morris-Jumel Mansion. Many famous and historical people have lived in this two-hundred year old complex, building onto its importance in history.

A British commander named Colonel Roger Morris first constructed this mansion for his wife, Mary Phillips, and himself during the 1700's. during the revolutionary war, the British had the upper hand in the war so Morris was assured victory. He and his wife Mary lived in the house for several months, until General Washington and his army attacked him and drove Morris out of his house. Washington then adopted the mansion and used it as his private base and command center. For several weeks Washington stayed in the house.

Herbal Garden

The Morris-Jumel Mansion has had over nine owners, but two of the most interesting were Eliza and Steven Jumel. Eliza and her husband Steven, who were originally from Rhode Island, purchased the rights to the house soon after the American Revolution (after Washington moved out). Eliza and her husband moved to New York, with practically nothing but she struggled to better her and her husband's life in the new world. After years of hard work and determination, Eliza became one of the richest women in America during that time. Though her husband passed on soon after she bought the house, Eliza was able to live the rest of her years there.

Former owners of the house left behind their priceless belongings, such as a bed that was given to Eliza Jumel by Napoleon as a gift, and a life size portrait of Eliza and her two children. There was a desk located on the second floor in the house which belonged to the famous Aaron Burr who also lived in the house. Mr. Burr moved into the house at the age of 77 and stayed until he died.

Interview with CuratorMany slaves and indentured servants stayed in this mansion as well. General Washington's slave William Lee and cook Ms. Thompson stayed with him during his weeks at the house.

In the house, many of the slaves stayed in the basement. Indentured servants and cooks stayed on the third floor. Due to people constantly moving in and out, many rooms were added on as the years went on until the early 1800's when slavery was abolished in the North.  Inside Mansion: The Dinning Room

Currently the mansion is owned by the City of New York and is being reconstructed to to resemble its original structure from two-hundred years ago. Rooms such as George Washington's and the kitchen are being remodeled. They are also remodeling the interior of the house to capture its original essence. A representative at the mansion states,"We have restored this landmark because it is one of New York's time machines."

Morris-Jumel Mansion,Inc

65 Jumel Terrace, New York,NY 10032

1(212) 923-8008

Read more about Morris-Jurnel Mansion


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