157th STREET PLAQUE

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I had missed this one until now — a plaque at the 157th Street station on the 7th Avenue-Broadway line, likely installed as the station opened in 1904, directs visitors to the Morris-Jumel Mansion, a colonial-era private home that George Washington used as a headquarters during the Revolution.

From the ForgottenBook:

This oldest private home in Manhattan stands on a high hill at Edgecombe Avenue and West 160th Street, somewhat nonchalantly eyeing the city spread out below it. The Morris-Jumel Mansion was built around 1760 by a British Colonel, Roger Morris, who was married to Mary Philipse. (Some say Mary had previously turned down a proposal from George Washington). Morris’ estate, Mount Morris, covered vast tracts of Harlem acreage, some of which would become Mount Morris Park, now Marcus Garvey Park. During the war, Morris, a loyalist, was forced to vacate the mansion and return to England; it then became a headquarters for Washington in the autumn of 1776. While President in 1790, Washington had a formal dinner in the mansion with John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton.

 After passing through several owners, the mansion was purchased in 1810 by a wealthy French emigrant, Stephen Jumel, and his wife Eliza. They redecorated the house in the French Empire style it retains today and imported furniture; a bed purportedly owned by Napoleon can be found in the Mansion. Jumel also planted a number of cypress trees south of the mansion that were brought from Egypt by the French emperor. After Jumel’s death in 1832, Eliza married former Vice-President Aaron Burr, Alexander Hamilton’s assassin in a duel in 1804. Their marriage was stormy and brief, and after their divorce in 1834, Eliza occupied the Mansion until her death in 1865. Some say she’s still there, since the ghost of a well-dressed woman in the fashion of the time has occasionally been spotted in the halls. The Mansion has been preserved as a monument since 1904.

The mansion welcomes the public. Call (212) 923-8008 or visit morrisjumel.org for details.

12/26/11





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2 Responses to 157th STREET PLAQUE

  1. Joe Brennan says:

    The plaque is carefully lettered, and its setting is horribly crude. Today we expect no better, but the Rapid Transit Board took more care than this with the original station decoration. If the plaque itself is original, it has been moved. And I don’t think that brown background tile appears anywhere in 1904 station finish. I wonder what the story is.

  2. Roger_the_Shrubber says:

    The place is definitely worth a visit.

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