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Contact: Mindi Rambo, 646-341-2825
New York -- The National Park Service (NPS) today re-opened Hamilton Grange National Memorial, the home of founding father Alexander Hamilton following a five-year closure to move and restore it to its original appearance. The Grange, believed to be the only home Hamilton ever owned, is the only memorial in the United States dedicated to Alexander Hamilton. A member of Congress and co-author of the Federalist Papers, Hamilton was indispensable in the effort to get the Constitution adopted, which is why the NPS selected September 17, Constitution Day to re-open his home to the public.
"I like to think, on this 224th anniversary of the signing of our Constitution, that Hamilton would look upon this project as a wonderful example the executive and legislative branches of the federal government working together for the benefit of 'We the people'," said Maryanne Gerbauckas, Deputy Director of the Northeast region of the NPS.
Once cramped between St. Luke's Episcopal Church and an apartment building, with its front and back entrances stripped away and its interior reconfigured, the Grange has regained its elegant symmetry, a hallmark of the Federal-style of which it is a noteworthy example.
"When the National Park Service was given responsibility for Hamilton Grange in 1962, we were told by Congress to find a place where it could be fully restored, move it there, and recreate Hamilton's vision of a country retreat in Harlem away from the hustle and bustle of downtown. That was not so easy. It took the support and encouragement of the fine community of Harlem, the City of New York and many others to find the right location," said Hamilton Grange National Memorial Superintendent Shirley McKinney. "Now, after a long journey, we have arrived. As you can see, the house is again in balance, with piazzas on either side of the elaborate front entrances and 13 sweet gum trees adorning its grounds just as in Hamilton's day."
Located in the southeast corner of Hamilton's original 32-acre estate, St. Nicholas Park is the third and final location of the home Hamilton helped design along with noted architect James McComb, Jr., who also designed New York City Hall. The NYC Department of Parks & Recreation granted a permanent easement in the northwest corner of St. Nicholas Park to the NPS, thereby allowing the Grange to remain on property that once belonged to Hamilton.
"We are gratified to have worked with our partners in Congress and at the National Park Service to dedicate a small piece of St. Nicholas Park to Alexander Hamilton, a founding father who played such a large role in both our city's and nation's history," said NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe. "St. Nicholas Park's pastoral acres, once part of Hamilton's estate, are a fitting home for the restored Grange, one that Hamilton might have recognized and visitors are sure to enjoy."
Alexander Hamilton, in the form of living historian Ian Rose, arrived in a horse-drawn carriage and ascended the steps of the Grange. He then addressed Superintendent McKinney, saying, "I wish to express my gratitude to you, to the National Park Service and to all those who have labored so successfully to realize the vision of my 'sweet project.' In recognition of your stewardship, I hereby present you with the key. May the Grange continue to faithfully represent the reality of our nation's past to future generations."
Built in 1802, the Grange originally stood on what would later become W 143rd Street. In 1889, to save it from demolition as New York City's street grid moved north, the home was purchased and moved by the congregation of St. Luke's Episcopal Church. The church and an apartment building were later built next to the original front and back entrances to the Grange, resulting in the removal of the original entrances and the addition of a new entrance through the side of the home, then facing Convent Avenue. To restore the home to its former splendor, NPS conducted detailed studies to determine how the Grange looked in Hamilton's time.
Before its first move, Hamilton Grange sat on a promontory within a 32-acre property in northern Manhattan with sweeping views to both the Hudson and East rivers. Sadly, Hamilton was only able to enjoy the home for two years before he died on July 11, 1804, the day after he was fatally wounded in a duel with his political rival, Aaron Burr. His wife, Elizabeth, continued to live at the Grange until 1833 when she moved to Washington, D.C.
In addition to serving as a member of Congress and co-authoring the Federalist Papers, Hamilton was the founder of the Revenue Service, which later became the United States Coast Guard. He served as the first Secretary of the Treasury (1789-1795), becoming the architect of the American financial system. After leaving office, he also founded the New York Post and the Bank of New York.
For photos and more information about Hamilton Grange National Memorial, please visit www.nps.gov/hagr. You can also follow us at Twitter.com/HamiltonGrngNPS .