The Morris–Jumel Mansion, also known as the Roger and Mary Philipse Morris House, "Mount Morris" and other similar names, located at 65 Jumel Terrace in Roger Morris Park in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City, is the oldest house in the borough. It was built in 1765 by Roger Morris, a British military officer, and served as a headquarters for both sides in the American Revolution.
The house was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1961, and the exterior was designated a New York City Landmark in 1967, with the interior following in 1975. It is now a house museum.
Roger Morris, a British military officer who was serving as a member of the Executive Council of the Province of New York, built the house in 1765 for himself and his American-born wife, Mary Philipse Morris; they lived in it for ten years, from 1765 until 1775, when the American Revolution began. Roger Morriss held the position of captain in the British army during the French war, while his wife, Mary Phillipse, was daughter to speaker of the assembly Frederick Philipse. She was often described as " beautiful, fascinating, and accomplished." As British loyalists, Morris went to England at the start of the war, while his wife and family went to stay at the Philipse estate in Yonkers. Morris returned in 1777, after the city had been captured by the British, and became the Inspector of the Claims of Refugees until 1783, when he and his family left for England after the success of the Revolution.
Between September 14 and October 20, 1776, General George Washington used the mansion as his temporary headquarters after his army was forced to evacuate Brooklyn Heights following their loss to the British Army under the command of General William Howe in the Battle of Long Island. During his stay there from September 14 to October 20, 1776, Washington made note of his experience there. It is claimed that Washington not only selected the house because of its location but also because Mary Philipse had been a love interest for him twenty years before. The house also served as headquarters for the Hessians but it was quickly confiscated by newly established government within what had become the United States. During this period of confiscation, the Mansion became what was known as Calumet Hall, which was a well known tavern that ran by the Albany Post Road.
This house is one of the major remaining landmarks of Battle of Harlem Heights, after which it became the headquarters of British Lieutenant General Sir Henry Clinton, and the Hessian commander Baron Wilhelm von Knyphausen.
Because the Morrises were Loyalists, the house was confiscated by the Commissioners of Forfeiture at the end of the Revolution, after which it served as a farmhouse and a tavern, "Calumet Hall", a popular stop along the Albany Post Road.
The mansion was bought in 1810 by Stephen Jumel, a rich French merchant who had immigrated to the United States, as a home for himself and his wife, and former mistress, Eliza Bowen Jumel, along with their adopted Mary Bowen, who was thought to be the daughter of Eliza's stepsister. Throughout her adult life, Eliza Jumel lived richly and luxuriously. Eliza, who had come from poor beginnings, was known for being a woman who sought out a higher social position for herself as well as a life that encompassed having large amounts of wealth. Thus, she was always seen around men of power and fortune. Anxious to be accepted into New York society, the Jumels remodeled the house, adding the Federal style entrance, and redecorated the interior in the Empire style. Because they were not accepted socially in New York, the Jumels went to France in 1815, although Eliza returned from 1817–1821. She returned for good in 1826 with Stephen Jumel's power of attorney, and he returned in 1828.
Eliza was subject to many accusations in both France and New York, one of them being her involvement in the unpleasant death of her first husband. After Stephen's death in 1832 from injuries he received in a carriage accident, Eliza, who was now one of the wealthiest women in New York City, married the controversial ex-vice president Aaron Burr in the front parlor of the house; she filed for divorce in 1834, which was granted in 1836, shortly before his death. Eliza then divided her time between Saratoga, New York, Hoboken, New Jersey and lower Manhattan. Her step-daughter's family lived with her in the mansion until 1862; Eliza Jumel died in 1865 – in her later years she became very eccentric, if not insane. The care and love she had for the mansion is represented by the 251 years it had stood where it currently is. It serves as a representation of art and culture over a period of 200 years within the New York City area.
In 1882, the Jumel heirs broke up the 115 acres (0.47 km2) of the estate into 1058 lots, upon which numerous row houses were built, some of which today make up the Jumel Terrace Historic District.
The house itself was purchased by New York City in 1903 from the owners at the time, the Earles, with the help of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and converted into a museum run by the Washington Headquarters Association; The museum opened in 1904, and was renovated and refurnished in 1945. The house is owned by the Department of Parks and Recreation, and is a member of the Historic House Trust.
During its history, the Morris–Jumel Mansion hosted many other distinguished visitors, including dinner guests John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton and John Quincy Adams.
The house, which was built as a summer villa and it spanned an area of 130 acres. Thus, it covered some distance from Harlem all to way to the Hudson River. It is an early example of the Palladian style of architecture. Morris, whose uncle was a successful architect in England, was influenced by Palladio, a 16th-century Italian architect. His design included a double-height portico and triangular pediment – innovative features for 1765 – supported by grand Tuscan columns, and a two-story octagonal room at the rear of the mansion, which is believed to be the first of its kind in the country.
The remodeling by the Jumels c.1810 was in the Federal style current at the time, and included the entrance.
The house has been said to contain "some of the finest Georgian interiors in America." Today, the house is lavishly decorated with period furnishings and careful reproductions of period carpets and wallpaper. It features nine restored rooms, one of which was Washington's office. The dining room and Eliza Jumel's bedchamber, with a bed that supposedly belonged to Napoleon are also open. Personal artifacts of Roger Morris, George Washington, Eliza Jumel and Aaron Burr are part of the museum's collection. An archive and reference library is located in the house's third floor.
The mansion is located on the top of a ridge, Coogan's Bluff, from which lower Manhattan, the Hudson River including the Palisades, the Bronx, Westchester, the Long Island Sound and the Harlem River were once visible. It is located in Roger Morris Park, a New York City park within the boundaries of the Jumel Terrace Historic District, but is landmarked separately from the historic district.
The mansion overlooked Coogan's Hollow and the Polo Grounds, a baseball and football stadium built in 1890 and razed in 1964. (See the Polo Grounds article for the complex history of the stadium(s).) The mansion is sometimes visible in old pictures of the ballfield that show Coogan's Bluff. Today the Polo Grounds Towers stand where the stadium once was.On a rocky eminence overlooking one of the rivers, Fitz-Greene Halleck wrote his famous lines on the Greek patriot Marco Bozzaris.
At the beginning of his historical novel Burr (1973), author Gore Vidal recreates the wedding of Eliza Bowen-Jumel and Aaron Burr, with a detailed description of the interior of the house circa 1833, which is still evident today.
In 1996, the Morris–Jumel Mansion was featured in Bob Vila's A&E Network production Bob Vila's Guide to Historic Homes of America.
Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote portions of his 2015 musical Hamilton at the Morris–Jumel Mansion.
In 2014, the television show Ghost Adventures filmed an episode at the mansion to investigate reports of paranormal activity