Hamilton Grange National Memorial
Hamilton Grange National Memorial
|Location||Upper Manhattan, New York City, NY|
|Architect||John McComb Jr.|
|Architectural style||Federal style|
|Website||Hamilton Grange National Memorial|
|NRHP reference #||66000097|
|Added to NRHP||October 15, 1966|
|Designated NHL||December 19, 1960|
Hamilton Grange National Memorial, also known as The Grange or the Hamilton Grange Mansion, is a National Park Service site in St. Nicholas Park, Manhattan, New York City, that preserves the relocated home of U.S. Founding Father Alexander Hamilton. The mansion holds a restoration of the interior rooms and an interactive exhibit on the newly constructed ground floor for visitors. The Hamilton Heights subsection of Harlem derived its name from Hamilton's 32 acre estate there.
Alexander Hamilton was born and raised in the West Indies and came to New York in 1772 at age 17 to study at King's College (now Columbia University). During his career, Hamilton was a military officer, lawyer, member of the United States Constitutional Convention, American political philosopher, war hero, initiator and author of the majority of the pivotal and influential The Federalist Papers, and the first United States Secretary of the Treasury.
Hamilton commissioned architect John McComb Jr. to design a country home on Hamilton's 32 acres (13 ha) estate in upper Manhattan. The two-story frame Federal style house was completed in 1802, just two years before Hamilton's death resulting from his duel with Aaron Burr on July 11, 1804. The house was named "The Grange" after Hamilton's grandfather's estate in Scotland. The Grange was the only home ever owned by Hamilton and it remained in his family for 30 years after his death. The Grange might have also been Hamilton’s rivalrous answer to Jefferson's Monticello.
By 1889, much of the congregation of St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Greenwich Village had moved uptown. The Grange was in foreclosure and had been condemned for destruction in order to allow for the implementation of the Manhattan street grid, then just reaching that area of Harlem. The church acquired the house and moved it a half-block east and about two blocks south, conforming to the new street pattern, to what became 287 Convent Avenue. The original porches and other features were removed for the move. The staircase was removed and retrofitted to accommodate a makeshift entrance on the side of the house that faced the street, and the original grand federal style entrance was boarded up.
St. Luke's used the house for services and subsequently erected a Richardsonian Romanesque building on the site between 1892 and 1895 that wrapped around the house slightly, thus when a six-story apartment building was built c. 1910 flush on the opposite side it was tightly enclosed and many of its features hidden. The American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society bought the Grange and turned it into a public museum in 1924. Furniture and decorative objects associated with the Hamilton family were displayed.
The Grange was designated a National Historic Landmark in December 1960. The private National Park Foundation purchased the house and property and transferred it to the National Park Service. Congress authorized the National Memorial on April 27, 1962, requiring that it be relocated and then the house restored to appear as Hamilton knew it in 1802–1804, which is considered its period of historic significance. It was at the time determined that the claustrophobic Convent Avenue setting was inappropriate and that the country house should be viewed as freestanding building. However, the house was not relocated earlier because of overwhelming local opposition to options offered that required moving it out of the neighborhood. The Grange was administratively listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966.
On May 9, 2006, the Hamilton Grange Memorial was closed to the public to allow for extensive architectural and structural investigations as part of a long term plan to move the house to nearby St. Nicholas Park. The park location was judged a more appropriate setting for display that would permit restoration of features lost in the 1889 move. The new location would also keep the house in the neighborhood and keep it on land that was within the boundary of Hamilton's original 32-acre (130,000 m2) estate.
Work in St. Nicholas Park for tree removal and foundation construction began in February 2008. The actual move of the Grange began with elevation of the building in one piece over the loggia of St. Luke's Church and onto Convent Avenue. The Grange was placed on specially-built stilts that held the entire house approximately ten feet off the ground in the middle of Convent Avenue, between West 141st and 142nd Streets while traffic was routed around the house. The house completed its 500-foot journey on June 7, 2008 by being rolled one block south on Convent Avenue and then one block east on 141st Street (down a 6% grade) to the new St. Nicholas Park location. The six-hour event was a popular neighborhood attraction covered extensively in the press. The house was secured to its new foundation, original porches were rebuilt and the original main entrance doorway and main staircase within the entry foyer were restored. Landscaping around the Grange's new home includes among the tree plantings 13 sweet gum trees as were originally planted by Hamilton in honor of the original thirteen states, a stone wall, a circular garden planted in front to Hamilton's own specifications, and paths.
The Grange re-opened to the general public on September 17, 2011. A ceremony was held with Hamilton descendants in attendance and tours of the restored interiors took place through the day. In the renovated house, a visitor's center is located in the entirely newly constructed ground floor, where the kitchen, laundry and servants' rooms would have been. The Grange now has a security detail and possible video monitoring during the evening hours. At its new location, it is next to the City College of the City University of New York campus.
- National Park Service (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
- "Hamilton Grange (Alexander Hamilton House)". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. September 14, 2007.
- Howard, Hugh; Straus III, Roger (2007). Houses of the Founding Fathers.
- Rothstein, Edward (September 15, 2011). "Alexander Hamilton’s Renovated Grange – Review". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved November 16, 2016.
- Francis Morrone, "Hamilton Heights To Lose Its Namesake?" New York Sun, 27 March 2008 Accessed July 4, 2008.
- Dunlap, David W. (June 8, 2008). "Witnessing a House, and History, on the Move". The New York Times. Retrieved June 8, 2008.
- "NPS Timeline" (PDF). Retrieved May 7, 2012.
- Torres-Reyes, Ricardo (April 1975). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: Hamilton Grange National Memorial" (pdf). National Park Service. and Accompanying photo, exterior, from 1975. (32 KB)
- Dunlap, David W. (June 7, 2008). "Hamilton Home Heads to a Greener Address". The New York Times. Retrieved December 5, 2014.
the 500-foot move
- Hogarty, Dave (June 8, 2008). "Moving This Old House". Gothamist. Retrieved May 7, 2012.
- "Hamilton's home moved to new spot in Harlem". USA Today. June 8, 2008. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
- Dunlap, David W. (February 18, 2008). "Moving the Grange, and Twisting It Around, Too". The New York Times.
- Repanshek, Kurt (May 30, 2008). "Alexander Hamilton's "Country Home" on the Move in New York City". National Geographic Traveler.
- Rothstein, Edward (September 15, 2011). "Museum Review Founder’s at Home". The New York Times.
- "Alexander Hamilton Home Reopens After Complex Move". AOL Real Estate. September 19, 2011. Retrieved May 7, 2012.
- Official NPS website: Hamilton Grange National Memorial
- The National Parks: Index 2001–2003. Washington: U.S. Department of the Interior.
- Hamilton Grange (Alexander Hamilton House) NHL information
- Friends of St. Nicholas Park
- Photo Gallery of Hamilton Grange National Memorial Second Relocation Project by Wolfe House & Building Movers