During the decade before the Revolutionary War, the Georgian house, with its monumental portico and octagonal drawing room, was the setting for some of the colony’s most fashionable parties.
In the fall of 1776, the Mansion was seized by the Continental Army and served as headquarters for George Washington during the Battle of Harlem Heights. British and Hessian commanders occupied the house after Washington’s retreat from New York.
In the summer of 1790, Washington returned to the Mansion and dined with the members of his cabinet. Among those at the table were Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, John Quincy Adams, and Henry Knox.
In 1810, wealthy French wine merchant Stephen Jumel and his American wife, Eliza, purchased the Mansion, and spared no expense refurbishing it. In 1828, they returned from Paris with crates of furniture and paintings, much of which they claimed had belonged to Napoleon. A year after Stephen Jumel died in 1832, his widow married former vice president Aaron Burr. The marriage ended quickly and Eliza lived alone in the house until her death in 1865.