Hamilton Grange: Moving Hamilton’s House

Hamilton Grange National Memorial, Hamilton’s country home is the only home he ever owned.  The home was built in 1801, three years before Hamilton’s death.  In 1889, the home was moved for the first time to 287 Convent Avenue.  According to the New York Times, the National Park Service took stewardship of the property in 1962.

In 1967, the Landmarks Preservation Committee observed:

“The almost square architectural mass of Hamilton Grange is impressive in its symmetry and handsome proportions.  Designed by one of the City’s best early architects, John McComb, Jr., and incorporating features suggested by Hamilton, this Federal style house, with its porches and unpretentious clpaboard exterior, has a gracious dignity.  ‘The Grange’ was planned as a country seat by Alexander Hamilton for the open countryside and was named after his paternal grandfather’s home in Scotland.  It is one of the few remaining notable historical houses, designed in the Federal Style, of true architectural distinction.”

In 2006, the National Park Service began an $8.2 million restoration project to restore the house, including a restoration of the original entryway and front and back porches.  For the first time in 119 years, the house would be visible from all four sides.  However, the ultimate location of the house created some controversy because the house was placed in a different orientation than was originally intended so that it could face 141st Street, as documented by the New York Times in a February 2008 article:

This spring, the National Park Service plans to move the Grange from a cramped nook on Convent Avenue to a far more generous setting in a hillside corner of nearby St. Nicholas Park in Upper Manhattan.

In doing so, the service will swing the house around to face West 141st Street. That means that the Grange’s front door will end up oriented northeast rather than southwest, as was intended by Hamilton and his architect, John McComb Jr., when the home was completed in 1802.

This is a grave concern to some preservationists, who believe the government is squandering a chance to authentically restore the home of a towering founding father.

After the house was moved, the National Park Service created a short video, available on YouTube documenting the process of moving the house and explaining the historical significance of Hamilton Grange.

Wolfe House & Building Movers also released a nine minute video compilation of news coverage of the house being moved so that you can watch it in action.

If you’re in New York, make sure to stop by Hamilton Grange, now located at 414 W 141st St, New York, NY 10031!  Information on visiting hours and tours is available here.

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