One of uptown's many hidden gems is the Morris Jumel Mansion. I'd like to take a guess that more than half of New Yorkers have never been here, nor
heard of it! The summer villa that was originally constructed in the mid-18th century has now been converted to a museum with beautifully landscaped grounds filled with lush green grass, trees and flowers.
Built in 1765 by British Colonel Roger Morris and his American wife, Mary Philipse, this location proved to be ideal for a summer home as it sat on top of a breezy hilltop with river to river views. They lived there for 10 years until the American Revolution began. Once the Revolution began, our first President, George Washington, used this mansion as his temporary headquarters during the Revolutionary War Battle of Harlem Heights in 1776. 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, this estate proved itself to be a strategic military headquarters.
Moving forward to the second half of its current title, 'the Morris Jumel Mansion,' the estate was purchased in 1810 by Stephen Jumel, a rich French merchant who immigrated to the United States with his wife and former mistress, Eliza Bowen Jumel. As they were not socially accepted in the aristocratic New York scene, the Jumels returned to France just 5 years later. Eliza returned from 1817-1821 and they both returned here to live for good in 1828. Stephen died just a few short years later from injuries sustained in a carriage accident. Eliza, who was at that time one of the wealthiest women in NYC, married the controversial ex-vice president Aaron Burr. Everyone should know exactly who he is from that 90s 'Got Milk?' commercial that went viral!
Today, the Morris Jumel Mansion is not only a museum, but is also home to many different family-friendly activities including family gardening workshops, outdoor yoga classes, colonial craft family workshops, and various tours and presentations.