What Mansion Would that Be?
To be more specific, the Morris mansion, or as it was later known, the Morris-Jumel mansion. Readers of The Patriot Spy might recall the mansion provided the venue for a secret planning session between Jeremiah Creed and General George Washington. And in fact Washington made the Morris mansion his headquarters in the fall of 1776. In The Patriot Spy,it served as Continental Army headquarters during the time of the Battle of Harlem Heights.
|A National Landmark: the Morris-Jumel Mansion|
Who Built it?
The house was built eleven years before the revolution, in 1765, by British Colonel Roger Morris and his American wife, Mary Philipse. Known as Mount Morris, this northern Manhattan estate stretched from the Harlem to the Hudson Rivers and covered more than 130 acres. Morris was the nephew of a prominent architect and built the mansion in the Palladian style of architecture. Features include a monumental portico supported by grand Tuscan columns, and a large, two-story octagonal addition at the rear. Because they were loyal to the crown, the Morrises were eventually forced to return to England. The Continentals often used the abandoned (or not) homes of Loyalists as headquarters, etc. The British did the same to the Patriots. In this case the home was large enough to provide room for staff activities and a place for the commander in chief to live.
|Drawing of the mansion in earlier times|
Why a Headquarters?
|Washington recognized the advantages |
of establishing a headquarters on Morris Hill
Post Bellum Shenanigans
Mansion, and spared no expense refurbishing it. In 1828, they returned from Paris with crates of furniture and paintings, much of which they claimed had belonged to Napoleon. In 1832, Stephen died, ostensibly of "natural causes." He fell on a pitchfork and bled out. But there was speculation that Eliza had a role in the death as she had carried on a torrid affair with the now defamed former Vice President of the US and killer of Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr. A year after Stephen Jumel died in 1832, Eliza married Burr. But the union ended after three years in divorce as Burr wanted only her money, most of which he managed to spend. Burr died in near poverty. Eliza became a recluse, and the once renowned beauty turned into a frightening sight with unkempt hair, false teeth and dirty clothing. Although the rumors were she went mad, she certainly had dementia and drove away even her closest relatives and friends. She lived alone in the house until her death in 1865.
Post Shenanigans Hauntings?
|Aaron Burr around the time of |
his infamous seduction of Eliza
Department now owns the mansion and it is open for visitors, living or not.