New York Architecture Images-Harlem and the Heights

Morris-Jumel Mansion




Roger Morris Park
65 Jumel Terrace at 160th St.




Georgian  Palladian








Mme. Eliza Jumel
  Madame Eliza Jumel
Lithograph by A. Collette, Lauree Feldman Graphics. Courtesy of the Morris Jumel Mansion


George Washington Slept Here

It's true! Washington made his headquarters here at the Mansion during the fall of 1776. It was during this period that the General's troops forced a British retreat at the Battle of Harlem Heights.

The house was built eleven years before the Revolution, in 1765, by British Colonel Roger Morris and his American wife, Mary Philipse. The breezy hilltop location proved an ideal location for the family's summer home. Known as Mount Morris, this northern Manhattan estate stretched from the Harlem to the Hudson Rivers and covered more than 130 acres. Loyal to the crown, the Morrises were eventually forced to return to England as a result of the American victory.

During the war, the hilltop location of the Mansion was valued for more than its cool summer breezes. With views of the Harlem River, the Bronx, and Long Island Sound to the east, New York City and the harbor to the south, and the Hudson River and Jersey Palisades to the west, Mount Morris proved to be a strategic military headquarters.

President Washington returned to the Mansion on July 10, 1790, and dined with members of his cabinet. Guests at the table included three future Presidents of the United States: John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and John Quincy Adams. Alexander Hamilton and Henry Knox were in attendance as well.

A New Century

The departure of the British at the close of the revolution did not end the upheaval in the life of the Mansion. Serving as an inn for New York City-bound travelers, ownership of the house passed through many hands. Finally, in 1810, the Mansion was restored to its original purpose as a country house by the French emigrant Stephen Jumel and his wife Eliza.

Stephen and Eliza added new doorways and stained glass to the facade of the Mansion. As regular visitors to France, they furnished much of the house in the French Empire style. Many of those objects, including a bed said to have belonged to the Emperor Napoleon, remain in the Mansion today.

Stephen Jumel died in 1832, and Eliza, then one of the wealthiest women in New York, later married the former U.S. Vice President, Aaron Burr. Their marriage lasted just two years. Eliza retained ownership of the Mansion until her death in 1865. After a twenty-year court battle, which was finally settled by the U.S Supreme Court, the property was divided and sold.

The Mansion itself survived the subdivision along with a small plot of land. In 1894 it was purchased by General Ferdinand P. and Lillie Earle. In tune with the deep patriotic sentiment of the late 19th century, the Earle's revered Washington and the Mansion's history as his headquarters. They persuaded the City of New York to purchase the house and remaining property in 1903 and to preserve it as a monument to the nation's past.

In 1904 the Washington's Headquarters Association, formed by four chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution, took on the task of operating the museum. Today, the Morris-Jumel Mansion, Inc., an independent not-for-profit corporation assumes that responsibility.


The Mansion is built in the Palladian style, with a second story balcony and a two-story front portico supported by classical columns. The two-story octagon at the rear of the house is believed to be the first of its kind anywhere in the colonies.

The first floor of the 8,500 square foot house features rooms for family and social gatherings, and includes the parlor in which Madame Eliza Jumel married Aaron Burr in 1833. Across the hall stands the dining room where Washington likely entertained his guests in 1790. At the far end of the hall, the octagonal drawing room, or withdrawing room as it is properly known, provided a grand setting for social gatherings. Bedrooms on the second floor include those of George Washington, Eliza Jumel, and Aaron Burr. The basement houses the colonial-era kitchen and tells the story of domestic servitude at the Mansion. The room features the original hearth and a bee-hive oven as well as a collection of early American cooking utensils.

Through architecture and a diverse collection of decorative arts objects, each room of the Morris-Jumel Mansion reveals a specific aspect of its colorful history from the 18th through the 19th centuries.



The Morris-Jumel Mansion, dating from 1765, is among the most important examples of Georgian architecture in the nation. The building features rare early examples of a two-story colonnaded portico and an octagonal wing. The wood facade is fashioned to simulate stone construction. Colonel Roger Morris built the house as his summer retreat and, with its prominent site overlooking the Harlem River and Manhattan, the building briefly served as Washington's headquarters during the Revolution. The property is now one of New York's most important landmarks.

Although maintained as an historic site since 1903, the Morris-Jumel Mansion had not seen any major repairs in almost 30 years. The Pokorny firm conducted a complete conditions survey and prepared construction documents for exterior restoration. Extensive restoration included epoxy consolidation of deteriorated wooden structural members and detailed repairs of chimneys, porches, wooden portico columns, balustrades and other exterior elements. Craftsmen replicated the original windows using traditional mortise-and-tenon joinery and hand-blown glass.

  Manhattan’s oldest surviving house, Morris-Jumel Mansion, is a monument to colonial grandeur. Built in 1765 as a summer retreat for British colonel Roger Morris and his American wife Mary Philipse, this house is the only survivor of a number of similar country houses built by wealthy New Yorkers. Morris, the nephew of a successful English architect, was greatly influenced by the designs of the 16th-century Italian architect Palladio. His sophisticated residence includes a monumental portico and pediment, supported by grand Tuscan columns, and a large, two-story octagonal addition at the rear, one of the first of its kind in the country.

Before Harlem Heights developed into the vibrant community it is today, this site commanded views of lower Manhattan as well as of New Jersey and Westchester. With the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, Morris, a Loyalist, left for England. His home, which he called “Mount Morris,” was then occupied successively by George Washington, British Lieutenant General Sir Henry Clinton, and the Hessian commander Baron Wilhelm von Knyphausen. Washington’s use of this house as his temporary headquarters between September 14 and October 20, 1776, is well documented by his daily correspondence and official papers.

After the war, the Morris’s property was confiscated and sold by the new American government. It became Calumet Hall, a popular tavern along the Albany Post Road. In 1810 Stephen and Eliza Jumel bought the property. Madame Jumel was from an impoverished Rhode Island family. Her marriage to Stephen Jumel, a wealthy French merchant who had made his fortune in the wine trade, gave her entry to New York’s highest social circles. The Jumels spent several years in France, where they made friends in the elite circle around Napoleon’s court. They returned to the United States in 1828 to settle in the mansion. Inspired by cutting-edge French fashion, Madame Jumel bought new furniture and redecorated her home in the elegant Empire style.

One year after her husband’s death in 1832 from injuries sustained in a carriage accident, Madame Jumel married former Vice President Aaron Burr in the mansion’s front parlor. The marriage was not a success, and the couple formally divorced in 1836. The immensely wealthy Madame Jumel became increasingly eccentric as time passed, and lived in the mansion until her death in 1865. The city bought the house from later owners, the Earles, in 1903. With the assistance of the Daughters of the American Revolution, it opened as a public museum the next year.

Today, Morris-Jumel Mansion and Roger Morris Park are part of the Jumel Terrace Historic District. The house features nine restored period rooms including George Washington’s office, a dining room glittering with 19th century ceramics and glass, and Eliza Jumel’s chamber, with a bed that she maintained had belonged to Napoleon. The third floor houses an archive and reference library. Morris-Jumel Mansion is operated by Morris-Jumel Mansion, Inc. and maintained by the Historic House Trust of New York City along with the City of New York/Parks & Recreation.

The stately two-story Morris-Jumel mansion, built in 1765 in a Georgian style modified to suit a country setting, was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Jumel in 1810. Though Stephen Jumel was a former Caribbean plantation owner and successful wine merchant, it was the colorful and controversial Madam Eliza Jumel who became the talk of New York City society. Eliza Jumel's life typified the limited options of ambitious young women born into poverty in late 18th-century America. Forced into prostitution early in life as a means of survival, Eliza's fortune turned after meeting and marrying Stephen Jumel in 1804. The prejudices of society against those with such a background forbade any acceptance of Mrs. Jumel. Wealth permitted travel, however, and the Jumels sailed to France in 1815. There, Eliza found social acceptance, mingling with aristocrats while adopting openly Bonapartist sympathies. Such convictions, voiced soon after Napoleon's exile, proved too controversial for the new French government, and in 1816 Louis XVIII ordered Mrs. Jumel to leave France. Eliza returned to the mansion, but her marriage was soon in decline over Stephen's discovery of her early life and the dwindling Jumel fortune. While Stephen remained in France, Eliza sold business holdings and kept the profits, pursuing social acceptance through wealth while leaving Stephen penniless and hastening his death. Fourteen months later Eliza, then 58, married 77 year-old, former Vice-President Aaron Burr. The marriage was marked by Burr's misuse of the Jumel fortune and the two were formally divorced on September 14, 1836, the day of Burr's death. Jumel spent the rest of her life in the mansion, dying here in 1865 at the age of 90.