<![CDATA[Mme. Jumel - The Madame Jumel Blog]]>Fri, 15 Dec 2017 07:56:28 -0500Weebly<![CDATA[The Morris-Jumel Mansion—a perennial tourist attraction]]>Mon, 20 Nov 2017 16:43:25 GMThttp://mmejumel.com/1/post/2017/11/the-morris-jumel-mansiona-perennial-tourist-attraction.htmlEliza Jumel's home appeared on the front page of the travel section of the New York Times this Sunday. But her mansion has long been a New York City tourist attraction. In 1924 it appeared on an advertising poster for the Interborough Rapid Transit Company—of course, with the notation that it could be "conveniently reached" by the "West Side Subway" (today's 1 line) and the (long-vanished) 6th and 9th Avenue elevated trains. The selling points were much the same as they are today: the mansion's status as Washington's headquarters in 1776 and the dinner attended at the house in 1790 by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and John Adams. You can admire the poster, owned by Princeton University, here. ]]><![CDATA[A penthouse apartment at the Morris-Jumel Mansion]]>Mon, 12 Dec 2016 22:52:31 GMThttp://mmejumel.com/1/post/2016/12/a-penthouse-apartment-at-the-morris-jumel-mansion.htmlEliza Jumel is not the only one to have found a comfortable home at the Morris-Jumel Mansion. A colony of paper wasps settled in this summer, building a snug nest beneath the cornice on the east façade. Their apartments are now vacant, as wasps don't winter over in the Northeast and don't reuse nests from year to year. The abandoned dwelling remains.
photograph of   an abandoned wasp nest beneath the cornice of the   Morris-Jumel Mansion
An abandoned wasp nest at the Morris-Jumel Mansion.
close-up   view of the wasp nest at the Morris-Jumel Mansion
Close-up view of the wasp nest at the Morris-Jumel Mansion.
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<![CDATA[Madame Jumel's wallpaper in Rhode Island]]>Mon, 21 Nov 2016 03:48:02 GMThttp://mmejumel.com/1/post/2016/11/madame-jumels-wallpaper-in-rhode-island.html As those who have visited New York's Morris-Jumel Mansion are aware, a wallpaper decorated with morning glory vines hung in the house during Eliza and Stephen Jumel's tenure, and an exact copy adorns the front parlor today. The reproduction was printed from wooden blocks carved specially for the mansion by H. Birge & Sons of Buffalo, New York, in 1916. But here's the kicker: I just discovered that Birge must have printed additional sheets. The same paper can be seen hanging in the William L. Brown House in Providence, Rhode Island—the city where Eliza was born—in a photograph from 1958. Perhaps the choice of paper made by the then-owner of the house stemmed from one of Jumel's early fictions. As a young woman with the maiden name of Bowen, she gave her surname as Brown instead, possibly to suggest an association with a family of wealthy Providence merchants named Brown.
Detail of wallpaper in the front parlor of the Morris-Jumel Mansion.
Front parlor of the Morris-Jumel Mansion, showing a twentieth-century reproduction of early nineteenth-century wallpaper that hung in the house when Eliza and Stephen Jumel lived there.
Exterior of the William L. Brown House in Providence, Rhode Island.
William L. Brown House, 23 John Street, Providence, RI, in 1958. Library of Congress, HABS RI,4-PROV,125-1. Built 1795 to 1798.
Stair hall of the William L. Brown House in Providence, Rhode Island, hung with morning-glory wallpaper.
Stair hall hung with morning-glory wallpaper, William L. Brown House, 23 John Street, Providence, RI, in 1958. Library of Congress, HABS RI,4-PROV,125-4.
Whether the Madame Jumel paper is still in the Brown House, I do not know. But it may hang on other walls yet to be discovered. Birge printed a fresh edition of the wallpaper for the mansion just in time for the bicentennial in 1976. At the same time, the pattern was made available for sale to the general public as well by Reed Ltd, which had just acquired Birge. Anyone have the wallpaper hanging in their home, perchance?

Detail of the wallpaper in the stair hall of the William L. Brown House in Providence, Rhode Island.
The visible seam in the paper makes clear that this wallpaper in the Brown House is the twentieth-century reproduction by H. Birge & Sons, rather than an early nineteenth-century original. It was clearly made in long strips rather than smaller rectangles that were pieced together (the latter being a distinguishing characteristic of wallpaper printed and hung in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries).
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<![CDATA[ Madame Jumel in Midtown ]]>Wed, 02 Nov 2016 15:22:08 GMThttp://mmejumel.com/1/post/2016/11/-madame-jumel-in-midtown.html In 1858 Eliza Jumel rented and then purchased two adjacent lots on the northwest corner of 41st St. and Seventh Avenue—just south of today's Times Square. Initially a house on one of the lots housed Madame Jumel's great-niece and namesake, Eliza Jumel Pery, and Pery's husband and young daughter. But a year later the little family moved, first to W. 45th St. near Fifth Avenue and then further north to the East Sixties. This 1855 view of Midtown shows the northward march of the city that doubtless inspired their relocation to quieter surroundings.
Picture
New York, from the Latting Observatory, 1855. New York Public Library. The view stretches from 42nd Street to the southern tip of Manhattan.
The reservoir at 42nd St. and Fifth Avenue, in the left foreground of the image, stored water brought to the city by the Croton Aqueduct (which crossed Eliza Jumel's uptown land). The reservoir was decommissioned in the 1890s—replaced by underground water pipes—and then demolished. The site became the home of the New York Public Library.

The iron and glass structure next to the reservoir, an exhibition space known as the Crystal Palace, sadly burned down in 1858. Forty-second Street runs in front of it, across the lower edge of the print. The avenues zooming towards us are Fifth Avenue to the left of the reservoir, Sixth Avenue to the right of the Crystal Palace, and Broadway to the right of Sixth. The image is not quite wide enough to encompass Eliza’s properties at 41st St. and Seventh Avenue, which would be just beyond the right edge of the print.

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On the far right in this detail, you can see three buildings fronting on Broadway just north of 41st Street, a block not yet fully built up. Behind them, some of the block stretching towards Seventh Avenue is visible, but not all the way to the Jumel properties on the northwest side of Seventh.
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<![CDATA[A song for Eliza Jumel]]>Tue, 18 Oct 2016 18:27:57 GMThttp://mmejumel.com/1/post/2016/10/a-song-for-eliza-jumel.html I couldn't resist sharing with you this appropriate theme song for Madame Eliza Jumel, titled "Sleep Peaceful, Mr. Used-to-Be." It's from the 1946 musical St. Louis Woman, but could equally be a eulogy for Aaron Burr. Sung over a corpse, it ends with the triumphant words "But you’re never in the world going to get the best of anybody anymore."
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<![CDATA[Theatrical magic at the Morris-Jumel Mansion]]>Thu, 29 Sep 2016 14:06:55 GMThttp://mmejumel.com/1/post/2016/09/theatrical-magic-at-the-morris-jumel-mansion.html There is an enchanted weekend to come at the Morris-Jumel Mansion, with the last three performances of Vincent Carbone's adaptation of Alice in Wonderland. In this version of the well-known tale, the grounds of the mansion become Wonderland and the familiar characters take on American Revolutionary alter egos—the sleepy dormouse doubles as John Adams, for example. Visit the Morris-Jumel Mansion website for tickets. Performances are scheduled for tonight, Friday, and Saturday at 8 PM and Sunday, October 2, at 3 PM.
Photograph of the Morris-Jumel Mansion at night, lit by floodlights and a full moon.
A full moon to light Alice in Wonderland at the Morris-Jumel Mansion.
Photograph of shadows on the ceiling of the hallway of the Morris-Jumel Mansion.
A magical play of shadows on the hall ceiling during the tea party that follows performances of Alice in Wonderland at the Morris-Jumel Mansion.
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<![CDATA[In memory of Aaron Burr]]>Wed, 14 Sep 2016 22:50:34 GMThttp://mmejumel.com/1/post/2016/09/in-memory-of-aaron-burr.html Today, September 14, 2016, is the 180th anniversary of the death of Eliza Jumel's second husband, Aaron Burr. A death mask was made the same day for of New York City phrenology firm of Fowler and Wells. Burr's skull revealed marked "destructiveness, combativeness, firmness, and self-esteem," as well as excessive "amativeness," said Fowler (quoted by Laurence Hutton in Harpers New Monthly Magazine, Nov. 1892, p. 912).

A An image of Burr circa 1801 confirms the identification of the death mask's subject. The abbreviation "Esq." (i.e., esquire) after Burr's name in the caption is a reminder that he had a long career as a lawyer.
Photograph of a plaster death mask of Aaron Burr belonging to the New-York Historical Society.
Death mask of Aaron Burr, made for Fowler and Wells, New York City. New-York Historical Society, 1927.59. Gift of Dr. John E. Stillwell.
A bust-length portrait of Aaron Burr, circa 1801, reproduced from a biographical dictionary belonging to the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.
Enoch G. Gridley after John Vanderlyn, ca. 1801, from the New Universal Biographical Dictionary and American Remembrancer. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, NPG.80.184.4.B.
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<![CDATA[An eighteenth-century wineglass unearthed]]>Wed, 07 Sep 2016 02:35:54 GMThttp://mmejumel.com/1/post/2016/09/-an-eighteenth-century-wineglass-unearthed.html
If you were dining at the Morris-Jumel Mansion in the 1760s with Roger and Mary Morris, you might have used a wineglass that looked like this (in less fragmentary form!). The white corkscrew ornamentation on the stem is referred to as an "opaque twist." Such decoration was popular in Georgian England; glasses bearing it would have been imported from the United Kingdom to the American colonies.
Fragment of an eighteenth-century wineglass (base and stem).
Base and stem of an eighteenth-century wineglass from Lewis Morris's Bronx estate, Morrisania. It is on exhibit at the Valentine-Varian House, but owned by the New-York Historical Society.
Another photograph of the eighteenth-century wineglass, providing a better view of the base of the glass.
A better view of the base of the glass.
Photograph showing the stem of an eighteenth-century wineglass.
Detail of the stem.
The fragment was found during an archaeological dig at Morrisania, the estate of Roger Morris's contemporary (but not relation) Lewis Morris. Most of Lewis's estate was located in what is now the Bronx—where the glass remnant is located today. It is on exhibit at the Valentine-Varian House (1758), home of the Bronx Historical Society. This set of opaque-twist wineglasses, made about 1760, gives you an idea of what the vessel might have looked like in its prime.
Photograph of a set of six mid-eighteenth-century wineglasses.
Set of opaque twist wineglasses, ca. 1760. Butler's Antiques as of September 6, 2016.
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<![CDATA[The Fabric of Emancipation]]>Fri, 26 Aug 2016 22:08:10 GMThttp://mmejumel.com/1/post/2016/08/the-fabric-of-emancipation.htmlThese beautiful last days of summer are the perfect time to admire the garden at the Morris-Jumel Mansion and step inside to view a thought-provoking exhibition of textile art. Titled The Fabric of Emancipation, the juried show was produced by the mansion in partnership with Harlem Needle Arts, an organization that promotes fabric and needle arts made by artists of the African Diaspora. The works on exhibit highlight the historical and contemporary experience of blacks in the United States. In this pointedly topical piece, for example, Laura R. Gadson juxtaposes the divergent treatment of blacks and whites who attract the attention of the police.
Detail of an artwork by Laura R. Gadson on exhibit at the Morris-Jumel Mansion.
Detail of Conversations in Cotton: The Fabric of Our Lives, by Laura R. Gadson. On exhibit through October 3 at the Morris-Jumel Mansion.
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<![CDATA[A forgotten episode of Morris-Jumel Mansion history?]]>Sun, 21 Aug 2016 04:12:13 GMThttp://mmejumel.com/1/post/2016/08/1.html Michael Wolf, a member of the stellar Morris-Jumel Mansion docent crew, alerted me recently to a potentially significant episode in the pre-Revolutionary history of the house. I say "potentially significant," because there may be a fly in the ointment: it is not yet clear whether the episode took place in the real world or only in someone's imagination. I hope to be able to answer that question eventually, but for the moment let me give you what information I have found.

The story begins with a calendar page on display this summer at Fraunces Tavern Museum in downtown Manhattan. On the page is a reproduction of a painting by John Ward Dunsmore (1856–1945). Its subject is said to be a reception at the Morris-Jumel Mansion, held on Thursday afternoon, September 1, 1768. The guest of honor was New Jersey governor William Franklin, who was on his way to treaty negotiations with the Six Nations at Fort Stanwix in the Mohawk Valley. (Click "Read More"—just far enough to the right below this paragraph to be difficult to spot—to continue.)
Painting by John Ward Dunsmore of a reception for Gov. William Franklin in the octagon room of the Morris-Jumel Mansion.
John Ward Dunsmore, Reception to Governor Franklin, September 1, 1768. Painted before 1927. From: Early days of the island of Manhattan and its environs 1626–1776 (Title Guarantee and Trust Company and Bond and Mortgage Guarantee Company, 1927), p. 56.
The calendar that contained the illustration was produced in the early twentieth century by the Title Guarantee and Trust Company, a business that provided title insurance for real estate purchasers. Each of the corporation's yearly calendars featured a notable property—such as the Morris-Jumel Mansion—that the company had insured. (Purchasers of the Jumel buildings and landholdings, fought over by many claimants after Eliza Jumel's death, would certainly have slept better with title insurance!)
Those who have visited the Morris-Jumel Mansion will recognize that the artist chose the octagon room at the house as the setting for the reception for Franklin. The governor is shown in the right foreground, flanked on one side by homeowners Col. Roger Morris and Mary Philipse Morris (clearly recognizable from eighteenth-century paintings of them), and on the other by Lady Moore, wife of New York governor Sir Henry Moore, who stands just behind her.
Roger and Mary Morris with Gov. Franklin (detail of a painting by John Ward Dunsmore).
Detail of Mary and Roger Morris with the governor.
In the left foreground, Anne Watts is being presented to the governor. Her fiancé, standing behind her, is naval captain Archibald Kennedy, who was one of the groomsmen at the marriage of Roger and Mary Morris. On the far left of the painting, Mary Morris's sister Susannah, wife of Beverly Robinson, stands in front of the window next to a Chippendale chair. The sitters are identified in a booklet issued by the Title Guarantee and Trust Company in 1927, which reproduced fifteen of the paintings made for the calendars.

Did this gathering take place in actuality? The passage of the governor and his retinue through New York is confirmed by newspapers of the era. The party arrived in New York on Monday, August 29, 1768, and left New York for Albany on Saturday, September 3. But as yet I have found no mention of a stop at the Morris-Jumel Mansion, whether in the newspapers or the governor's correspondence. Many legends surround the history of the mansion, and the reception for Franklin may be among them. However, the choice of a scene with numerous recognizable personalities suggests that the picture might have been based on a verifiable event. Stay tuned—and in the meantime have a look at the calendar page in full color at Fraunces Tavern Museum. Mike Wolf gives a public tour at Fraunces every Sunday at 2 PM, so that would be a perfect time to go.
Detail of Susannah Morris Robinson, from a painting by John Ward Dunsmore.
Detail of Susannah Morris Robinson.
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