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  • Writer's pictureAbby Brenker

Haunted History: The Morris-Jumel Mansion, Manhattan's Oldest Standing House

I had the honor to visit the oldest standing home in Manhattan for a candlelight ghost tour. The Morris-Jumel mansion was built in 1765 by Roger Morris, in what is now Washington Heights. Though at the time of construction it was located in an entirely rural area. The structure has a rich history, serving as headquarters for both sides during the Revolutionary War. Morris was a Captain in the British Army.

For several weeks in 1776 George Washington used the mansion as his base, after Morris and his family had evacuated the area. After the American Revolution, Morris's house was confiscated by the government because he was a loyalist.

In 1810 the house was purchased by Stephen Jumel, for him and his family. Jumel was a merchant from France, who unfortunately passed away in 1832. Rumors spread that Eliza had something to do with the untimely death of her husband. Following his death, Eliza remarried to Aaron Burr but filed for divorce in 1834. At the time she was the richest woman in New York City. Eliza died in 1865, many believe she struggled with her mental health later in life.

Many believe it’s haunted by Eliza Jumel, guests have reported seeing her come out onto the balcony. There are many strange reports from staff and visitors alike. Even on our tour a guest saw a figure run up the stairs, only to reveal no one in the attic.

At one point, I thought my friend shoved into me to get my attention and looked up to see no one near me. Staff report a lot of paranormal activity in the kitchen area, where the enslaved people would have worked and slept. Other residents over the years include The Morris Family who initially built the home and George Washington.

In 1903 the surrounding land and home were purchased and turned into a museum. Which also makes this a very old museum.

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