In 1812 Eliza and Stephen Jumel purchased a plot of land on the northeast corner of Broadway and Liberty Street. Here is what their onetime property looks like today. I suspect it is worth a trifle more than the $14,700 they paid for it.
Eliza and Stephen Jumel once owned 150 Broadway, today the site of the Westinghouse Building.
The footprint of the Westinghouse Building, at the corner of Broadway and Liberty Streets in Manhattan, follows the lot lines of the former Jumel property.
Many relics of Eliza and Stephen Jumel survive, from personal letters to the wallpaper that decorated their home. The fact that the letters and wall hangings were made from rag paper—used in Europe and and the United States until the mid-nineteenth century—was a big key to their longevity. Richard Campbell, writing in 1747, provides a very clear description of how paper was made during the centuries when it was manufactured from cotton or linen rags rather than wood pulp:
"The Rags are picked, separated into Parcels, according to their Fineness, washed and whited; then they are carried to the Paper-Mill, where they are pounded amongst Water till they are reduced to a Pulp. When they are beat to a due Consistence, they are poured into a Working-Tub, where there is a Frame of Wire, commonly called the Paper-Mould, which is composed of so many Wires laid close to one another, equal to the Dimensions of the Sheet of Paper designed to be made; and some of them disposed in the Shape of the Figure which is discovered in the Paper, when you hold it up betwixt you and the Light. [Campbell's "Figure . . . discovered in the Paper" is what we call a watermark today.]
"This Frame the Workman holds in both his Hands and plunges it into the Tub, and takes it quickly up again: The Water runs through the Spaces between the Wires, and there remains nothing on the Mould but the beaten Pulp, in a thin Coat, which forms the Sheet of Paper: A Flannel-Cloth is laid upon the Top of the Mould and the Paper turned off upon it; then they dip as before, and continue to supply the Vessel with fresh Matter as it decreases. The Flannel Cloths suck up the remaining Moisture, and the Paper after some time will suffer to be handled and hung up to dry in Places properly fitted for that purpose."
Source: R[ichard]. Campbell, The London Tradesmen: Being a Compendious View of All the Trades, Professions, Arts, both Liberal and Mechanic, now practiced in the Cities of London and Westminster (London: T. Gardner, 1747), 125.
Workman holding a paper mould, letting the water drain from the paper pulp. From Diderot & d'Alembert, Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, 1767, vol. 5, “Papetterie,” detail of plate 10. University of Michigan Library.
Workers hanging paper to dry. From Diderot & d'Alembert, Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, 1767, vol. 5, “Papetterie,” detail of plate 12. University of Michigan Library.
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?
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.
Did Madame Jumel stop by to tend the grapes?