Morris-Jumel Mansion; the oldest house in Manhattan
a 1903 Photochrom from LoC
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 site. Washington made his headquarters here 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.
Serving as an inn, 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 wine merchant Stephen Jumel.