Those who have visited Eliza Jumel's home, the Morris-Jumel Mansion, may have noticed the delicate gauze curtains that hang in the front parlor. On a recent visit to the Kelton House Museum & Garden in Columbus, Ohio—a wonderful historic house restored to the Victorian era—I learned that such curtains had more than a decorative purpose. Before window screens were widely available, curtains of gauze or lace were used to let air in, but keep mosquitoes out. They would have been hung in a way that allowed them to be drawn completely over the window opening.
Front parlor at the Morris-Jumel Mansion.
Front parlor at the Morris-Jumel Mansion. Detail of a photograph by Trish Mayo.
I was bicycling past Silver Lake Golf Course on the way to Historic Richmond Town when I did a double take and came to a screeching halt. Grape vines? On a Staten Island golf course? Had Stephen and Eliza Jumel, who planted and tended one of New York City's earliest vineyards in Washington Heights, come to haunt Staten Island in an unusually constructive way?
 Vineyard on Silver Lake Golf Course on Staten Island.
Was Stephen Jumel here?
A little online research revealed that no paranormal activity was involved. The wine grapes growing beside the fairways are the project of Douglas Johnstone, president of the Golf Center of Staten Island, which runs the Silver Lake Golf Course. As of 2009, the intent was to produce a vintage called Skye Dog Wine from plantings of Corot noir and noiret grapes. However, a lack of recent updates suggests that the project, like so many earlier attempts at wine making in New York, proved more challenging than anticipated. I am sure Stephen Jumel could provide useful advice, if anyone knew how to channel it.
Wine grapes growing on Silver Lake Golf Course on Staten Island.
Wine grapes growing on Silver Lake Golf Course on Staten Island.
Grape vines on Silver Lake Golf Course on Staten Island.
Did Madame Jumel stop by to tend the grapes?
I have been immersed lately in all things wallpaper—specifically, in researching the wallpapers that once hung in the Morris-Jumel Mansion. Those who read my online article about the wallpaper that hung in the octagon room of the mansion in Eliza Jumel's day may be interested in this two-and-a-half-minute video from the Victoria & Albert Museum. It shows how wallpaper was hand-printed in the nineteenth century using carved wooden blocks. Inspiration for a craft project, anyone?