Hunting for history and ghosts at Manhattan's oldest house

ByBrittany Winderman Localish logo
Monday, November 13, 2023
Hunting for ghosts at Manhattan's oldest house
This 258-year old mansion is jam packed with American history....and ghosts!

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS -- Sitting atop the one of the highest points in the city is the oldest house in Manhattan the Morris-Jumel Mansion.

Built for British Army Colonel Roger Morris and Mary Philipse-Morris in 1765, this 258-year old mansion is jam packed with American history. And if youre lucky, you may experience a piece of the past haunting the house.

"Things are always happening that are like unexplainedHearing things, sometimes whispers, we get a lot of footsteps, shadows, things breaking," said Madeline Mungo, the Public Programs and Visitor Services Manager at the mansion.

The first known reports of the house being haunted were from Eliza and Stephen Jumel when they purchased it in 1810. Eliza was able to negotiate two thousand dollars off the asking price by claiming it was haunted.

Their most famous ghost story took place in the 60s during a school field trip that was visiting the museum. As the children are getting a bit rowdy outside the house, a woman comes out onto the balcony and yells at them to be quiet.

"The balcony doesnt support human weight, it hasnt for a long time but maybe if you were floating," explained Mungo.

The curator at the time then comes outside and apologies for being late. When the teachers ask who the old woman was that just yelled at their kids, the curator says theres no one else there and that the house was pad locked so no one could have gotten in. Once inside the kids all start pointing at one painting, saying that was the lady that yelled at them.

"The curator says, 'Thats impossible. Thats Eliza Jumel, she died over 100-years ago.," said Mungo.

From Washingtons War Room, to Anne Northup working here while her and Solomon Northup were separated during his 12 years of slavery, to Eliza tripling Stephens fortune and going from a girl born in poverty to the richest woman in New York, possibly the country at the time, so much happened within the walls of this mansion.

"I think the history is my favorite part because theres so much of it. Every day Im learning something new," said Mungo.

For more information on upcoming restorations and tours of the museum, visit their website at