What happened here:
Place name(s): The Grange, Hamilton Grange
Location: Hamilton Heights, New York City
Event in Hamilton’s life:
Alexander Hamilton built a home on a purchased thirty-five acres in 1800-1802 as a country estate and second residence for his family nine miles north of New York City. Though Alexander Hamilton passed away in July of 1804, the family lived in the house until 1833.
Get the details:
In 1800, Hamilton actively sought to build a country estate north of New York City (at the time confined to Lower Manhattan) . In June of that year, he wrote to his wife Elizabeth, "The Country is truly charming. I remark as I go along every thing that can be adopted for the embellishment of our little retreat—where I hope for a pure and unalloyed happiness with my excellent wife and sweet Children." On August 2nd, Hamilton made the first of three land purchases that would make up the thirty-five acre property in Upper Manhattan.
Hamilton named the property The Grange, which was the name of his paternal grandfather's estate in Ayrshire, Scotland, as well as the name of his maternal uncle's plantation on the island of St. Croix. The property stretched across what today makes up the area between 140th-147th streets and Hamilton Terrace to Hamilton Place.
As Hamiton wrote to a friend in 1802, "I have purchased about thirty acres nine miles from Town, have built a house, planted a garden, and entered upon some other simple improvements." Hamilton planned to have a working farm on his land, stating that "greatest part of my little farm will be dedicated to Grass." The property also included a farmhouse, barn and stables, ice house, vegetable garden, fruit garden, flower garden, orchard, and cows. Hamilton entrusted his wife Elizabeth with overseeing the land's development, including making decisions for the property, while he traveled around the state to argue law cases.
As for the house itself, John McComb, Jr (designer of New York City Hall and Gracie Mansion) was the architect and Ezra Weeks was hired as the builder. The Hamilton family used the existing farmhouse, which was renovated by McComb, until the designed home was completed in 1802. By that fall, they were fully moved into the new house, which was a two-story building designed in the Federal style. The house featured large verandas on either side that enjoyed unobstructed views of the Harlem and Hudson rivers.
Wide steps brought visitors up to the entrance on the first floor. The main floor had a large entry hall, a library, an octagonal former parlor, and an octagonal dining room, in addition to two guest rooms in the back. The upper floor, which was for the family, had a family living room and three bedrooms. Down in the basement was also a family dining room, kitchen, ironing room, and storeroom.
It seems that Hamilton's family spent much of their time at the Grange once its construction was completed, with Hamilton commuting back and forth between the Grange and their rented house at 54 Cedar Street in the city when work called him there.
After Alexander Hamilton passed away on July 12, 1804, his family could not afford to pay off the debts for the house and land, and the property was put up for auction. Friends of Hamilton secretly purchased the property and gifted it back to Elizabeth Hamilton so that the family could continue living there, where they stayed until 1833.
- Hamilton Grange - Forgotten New York
- Hamilton Grange - The Sky's The Limit NYC
- A Founder's At Home - NYT
How to visit:
Hamilton Grange National Memorial is a National Park Service-run site now located in St. Nicholas Park. Entrance to the house is free, and includes an exhibit on Alexander Hamilton's life, introductory video, and open-houses and tours of the restored second floor.
While at the Grange, stop around the corner to visit a statue of Alexander Hamilton marking a previous site of the Grange next to St. Luke's Church on Convent Ave.
The Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society holds events at Hamilton Grange every year in January for Hamilton's birthday and July for the anniversary of his passing. Learn more.
Address: 414 W. 141st Street (between Convent Ave and St. Nicholas Ave), New York City
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