The Hamilton Grange
Historic sites refer to a location where pieces of cultural, political, military, and social history are reserved. Due to their cultural heritage, historic sites are recognized by governments. Laws have been formulated to protect historic sites to ensure future generations don’t miss out on the significance of these sites. Some of these sites have political importance in that they represent the past of a country hence enhancing national identity (Thatcher 2018) Some of these sites include prestigious locations such as castles and great walls. Others could be personal dwellings of prominent or famous personalities or ordinary dwellings such as concentration camps and torture cells. Hamilton Grange is a historic site located in Harlems St Nicholas Park, New York. Hamilton Grange holds a tremendous political history of the United States thus is preserved for current and future generations to learn and appreciate American political history. Different events and changes have occurred at the site, with each having its significance to the history of America.
Figure 1.Hamilton Grange
Hamilton Grange historic site is famous in American history because it was the home of an American founding father by the name Alexander Hamilton. The Grange, as Hamilton named it, was built in 1802. Alexander Hamilton built the Grange in the colonial pastoral lands of Harlem New York. Hamilton developed the Grange during his fading years as a politician. The Grange is the only residence that is recorded in history to be associated with Alexander Hamilton (Chernow 2004) . Chernow continues to narrate that, Alexander and his wife Eliza bought the land where they constructed the Grange after admiring it during their occasional boat rides along the Hudson River. They purchased two adjacent pieces of property from two people, Paul Schiefflin and Samuel Bradhurst. Hamilton Grange has also served to educate the masses on the origin and history of their founding fathers. Alexander named his residence the Grange in honour of his Scottish and Caribbean ancestry.
Alexander Hamilton was born in Leeward island of West Indies on January 11 1757 (Murray 2007) Hamilton came to America at a time of uncertainty and political unrest against the oppressive rule of the British parliament. Murray (2007) continues to narrate that Alexander Hamilton’s first act as a founding father of the United States was joining the New York military as an artillery captain. He was eventually offered a position as a staff of General George Washington movement that ultimately formed the United States government. The revolution had interrupted Hamilton’s education, but he still sought education during the war. His education interests ranged from law, economics, and politics. Hamilton rose the ranks to become Washington’s chief aide camp. At the end off the revolution, the royalists wanted to take up revenge against the Tories. The Tories was a term used to describe the American colonial loyalists who had supported and paid allegiance to the British during the American revolutionary war. The revolution royalists wanted to seize properties and businesses owned by the Tories. Alexander Hamilton was against the retribution meted against the Tories. He defended them in lawsuits while arguing that taking up the properties of the Tories could not spur on the growth of independent America. He encouraged his fellow revolutionary royalists that they had to demonstrate to the world that America would grow and prosper amid internal opposition. Alexander Hamilton is not remembered as a founding father but also as a renowned lawyer.
Alexander Hamilton is also credited for his role in building an administrative structure of the United States of America that led the country to a path of economic growth (Green 2002) Biographers and historians regard Hamilton as an administrative genius of the early years of American independence. Green (2002) states that both friend and foe described Hamilton as an administrative genius. In just ten years, Hamilton built an administrative structure that set America to the path of economic opulence. His skills were so phenomenal that Jefferson, his main rival, was awed by his success.
Hamilton Grange, unlike other revolutionary royalists houses, has undergone several changes since being completed in 1802. Alexander Hamilton sought architect John McComb jr to carry out the construction of the Hamilton Grange while Ezra Weeks was the main contractor (Chernow 2004) The two-storey building was completed in the summer of 1802 by McComb jr and Weeks stood at the present-day corner of Convent Avenue and 143 rd Street. The exterior of the house was made of yellow and ivory frame while the immediate compound was surrounded by wild roses and laurel. Hamilton also planted cabbages, asparagus, strawberries and dogwood trees. The federal house that Alexander Hamilton built is regarded as a humble home as compared to his noble nature. Some historians believe that Hamilton built the house to rival Thompson Jefferson’s Monticello estate. The historians argue that he sought to display the pragmatic approach he built his estate having risen from humble beginnings
Alexander Hamilton lived in his house for two years before he died in a duel with vice president Aaron Burr on July 11 1804. Elizabeth Schuyler and her children continued to stay at the residence for 30 years before it decayed and earmarked for demolition in 1889 (Legaspi 2020) Luke Episcopal church bought the property in 1889. This followed the first significant change in Hamilton Grange since it was built in 1802. The church moved the house some blocks to comply with the new street development in New York. The church moved it two blocks south and a half-block east. The houses original porsches and staircase were removed during the move. The church used the premises for various activities that happened in the church.A church was also built alongside the Grange that almost touched the front porsche. The church later sold the Grange in 1924 to American Scenic and preservation society which converted the premise to a museum with decorative objects and furniture associated with Alexander Hamilton family.
The final Hamilton Grange was later taken over by the National Park Foundation and transferred to National Park service. The US Congress designated the Grange as a national memorial with the provision that it should be moved for a second time and restored to its 1802 condition (Museum of the City of New York 2016).The Grange was moved for the second and final time in 2006 to St Nicholas Park which is still within Harlem neighbourhood. Before final relocation, there was public outcry that was opposed to the relocation, but eventually, the transfer to St Nicholas Park was appreciated. The appreciation by the people was because St Nicholas Park was within the original 32 hectares that Alexander Hamilton owned. The final shifting involved moving the premise one block east and one block south. This work was completed in 2008, and the Grange was finally opened to the public in September 2011. The final relocation was appreciated by many A, Americans because it largely restored the original conditions of the Grange (Museum of the City of New York 2016).The 13 gum trees that Hamilton had planted to represent the 13 colonies were restored. The Hamilton Grange currently has some collections from Hamiltons lifetime including a chair that he allegedly used at the Grange.
The Hamilton Grange has become a vital piece of American history as it was associated with a man regarded as a founding father of the independent United States of America. Americans view him as a pioneer to the governance of the initial government of America post the revolution. His influence expanded beyond government administration to law, education and economics. The conversion of the Grange to a museum as enabled preservation of the collections of one of America’s founding father.
Chernow, Ron. 2004. “A world full of folly.” In Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow, 641. Newyork: Penguin Press.
Green, Ritchard T. 2002. “Alexander Hamilton Founder of American Public Administration.” Administration and society 541-562.
Legaspi, Rexy. 2020. Historic Homes Spotlight: Hamilton Grange National Memorial. January 9. https://www.theplancollection.com/house-plan-related-articles/historic-homes-spotlight-hamilton-grange-national-memorial.
Murray, Joseph A. 2007. America’s Forgotten Founder Alexander Hamilton. New York: Algora Publishinh.
Museum of the City of New York. 2016. Alexander Hamilton’s “sweet project”: The Grange. June 14. https://blog.mcny.org/2016/06/14/alexander-hamiltons-sweet-project-the-grange/.
Thatcher, Mark. 2018. “Introduction: The state and historicbuildings: preserving ‘the national past.” Nation and nationalism 22-42.