Morris Jumel Mansion
Once home to Aaron Burr, this storied manor is now famous as Manhattan’s oldest haunted mansion
Paranormal Claims at the Morris Jumel Mansion
- The spirit of Eliza Jumel is said to appear on the balcony and yell at people
- Lights go on-and-off without explanation
- Disembodied voices are often reported
- Apparitions of soldiers are said to step directly out of paintings on the home's walls
- Sounds of moving furniture have been heard, without anything ever being moved
- Original pieces of furniture are noted to give off EMF despite having no electrical components
- Aaron Burr is said to appear in the house as a shadow figure
- EVPs have been collected from Aaron Burr's former bedroom
Morris Jumel Mansion History
When you think of New York City, bustling streets and looming skyscrapers often come to mind. The city has a history longer than the United States, though it’d be a challenge to find many remnants of the Big Apple’s early years still remaining amongst the modernized metropolis. But there’s one place in Washington Heights that keeps the city’s colonial era alive. Perched in the center of Roger Morris Park, with a short iron fence separating it from urban sprawl, sits the oldest house still standing in Manhattan: the Morris Jumel Mansion.
The Morris Jumel Mansion has watched over the city from its spot on Coogan’s Bluff since the years preceding the Revolutionary War. Over the time, the house has seen the city grow, prosper, falter, and rise anew many times over. Now, some say that the spirits of previous owners stick around the mansion, tending to business and making sure that anyone who comes for a tour leaves with an unforgettable ghost story.
Timeline of Morris Jumel Mansion's History
Swipe or use timeline points to see Morris Jumel Mansion through the years
Morris-Jumel Mansion was built in 1765, hugged by 135 acres of farmland. The home, built for British Colonel Roger Morris, was named Mount Morris for its perch on a rocky bluff. At first, Roger and his wife, Mary, lived happy lives on their hilltop estate.
But, both were British loyalists and soon left as the American Revolution began. In the early months of the war, George Washington used the manor as a headquarters. The high placement allowed for wide views of the region, making for easy planning of troop placement around the city.
When Washington was driven from New York, the home was used by British forces. It wasn’t until the war ended that the home was back in private hands. By then Roger Morris and other loyalists were no longer welcome in the new United States.
To cover war debt, the home was sold and converted into a tavern. While only modestly successful, the tavern built in the house famously served President Washington and his cabinet in July of 1790. Unfortunately, the tavern soon became unprofitable and closed up shop after just a few years.
In 1810, the house and its farmland was purchased by Stephen Jumel, a French merchant. Stephen and his wife, Eliza, took on refurbishments and renovations, adding the Federal-style entrance seen today and updating the interior to the Empire style.
Eliza Jumel soon became known among upper class social circles as someone always striving for higher social class and status. Originally from a poor upbringing, Eliza frequently enjoyed the luxuries and decadence of the rich life she was able to lead in adulthood.
Self-educated with a love of reading, Eliza became a woman of great power in this time, helping her husband steer his business through hard times and establishing herself as a person with a sharp entrepreneurial mind. Despite her skills and intelligence, Eliza Jumel had trouble finding social acceptance in New York.
She and Stephen often traveled back to France for extended periods. It wasn’t until 1826 when Eliza returned to the New York estate for good, followed by her husband two years later.
In 1832, Stephen Jumel died in a suspicious accident said to involve him falling off of a hay wagon and directly onto a pitchfork. Many members of New York high society thought Eliza was complicit, though nothing was ever proven and Stephen’s death was ruled accidental.
Regardless, Eliza inherited Stephen’s massive fortune upon his death, and instantly became one of the wealthiest women in all of New York City. Less than a year after Stephen’s death, Eliza married former Vice President Aaron Burr in the home’s front parlor.
Eliza’s marriage to Aaron Burr, perhaps most famous for shooting Alexander Hamilton dead, only furthered her controversial reputation in New York’s high society. The marriage proved unhappy, with the assumption being that Eliza married Burr in hopes of improving her social status, while it was thought Burr merely wanted the Jumel fortune.
Eliza filed for divorce in 1834, hiring none other than Alexander Hamilton Jr. to represent her through. The divorce was finalized on the same day as Burr’s death in 1836.
For the next 29 years, Eliza Jumel lived in the mansion with family. In this era, Eliza hired Anne Northup to work as a home chef. Northup had built a history as a skilled cook, and needed work after her husband’s disappearance. Her husband, Solomon Northup, was famously kidnapped into slavery and returned to write a book, 12 Years a Slave.
Eliza Jumel continued to travel during the years leading up to the Civil War. But, as dementia set in, she spent most of her time in New York. She died at home in 1865, at age 90.
In 1882, the Jumel heirs sold the last 115 acres, now the Jumel Terrace Historic District. The home was sold to the city in 1903. It opened as a museum in 1904, and has been refurbished as well as filled with historical artifacts from both the Morris and Jumel families.
Is the Morris-Jumel Mansion Haunted?
Following the mansion’s conversion to a museum, and an influx of tourists, tales of odd encounters began to spread. Visitors would see strangely dressed figures, while tour guides often dealt with strange sounds and unexplainable feelings. Soon, the Morris-Jumel Mansion gained a reputation as being a haunted mansion.
Haunted Happenings at Morris Jumel Mansion
Ghost stories around the Morris-Jumel Mansion have existed for as long as the home has been open for tours, and well-known tales come from numerous different eras of New York history.
Eliza Jumel An Exciting Afterlife
While not the only ghost story around the mansion, the tale of Eliza Jumel inspired generations of interest in the hauntings around the home, with school children frequently waiting outside in the home’s garden for their chance to get yelled at by Eliza’s specter.
But, reports of Eliza Jumel’s apparition pre-date even the 1960s, going back a full century earlier to the years shortly after her death. Even then, the home’s owners as well as passers-by reported seeing her shadow figure wander the property in flowing gowns.
Revolutionary war ghosts at Morris Jumel Mansion
Other apparitions have been seen around the house as well, particularly figures that look like Revolutionary War soldiers. Teachers leading field trips have often reported seeing these figures, with some saying they even see these apparitions step directly out of paintings on the walls.
Hans Holzer Investigates Morris Jumel Mansion
Reports of paranormal activity were so common at the Morris-Jumel Mansion that renowned psychic Hans Holzer was brought in to review the activity in 1965. Holzer performed two séances in the house that year hoping to contact Eliza.
Though he did not succeed in connecting with Eliza Jumel, he stated that he did reach Stephen, who complained to him about his wife. Since then, haunting reports continue to be commonplace around the museum, with more people reporting Eliza’s specter, and some even saying they have encountered the figure of Aaron Burr sauntering the halls.
Unexplained EMF Readings in a house without electricity
Ghost tours are common events at the mansion now, and though very little electricity runs through the 250+ year old home, EMF meters are often said to go off throughout the house and frequently present incredibly high energy readings around the original pieces of furniture left over from the Jumel/Burr era.
People attending these ghostly tours have also come away with numerous anomalous photos and possible EVPs. Along with public tours, private investigations are offered at the museum and have proven popular, especially after the home’s numerous features on paranormal television programs.
Morris Jumel Mansion Today
The Morris-Jumel Mansion has been featured on episodes of Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures and The Holzer Files, as well as on the popular Buzzfeed Unsolved web series. It has also been featured on a tongue-in-cheek Saturday Night Live skit, ‘Ghost Chasers.’
Perhaps attracting even more attention than the paranormal shows, though, is the home’s connection with Aaron Burr and the recent hit musical, Hamilton. But regardless, whether you’re driven to visit by your interest in Broadway musicals or bumps in the night, the Morris-Jumel Mansion surely has unforgettable experiences to offer you.