Mourning for Hamilton at Upper Manhattan's Hamilton Grange National Memorial

Hamilton Grange National Memorial
Hamilton Grange National Memorial
Photo: Theresa LaSalle

Yes, you probably already know that Alexander Hamilton’s House is in Hamilton Heights. Most likely, you haven't been, so when will you finally go there?

Did you know Alexander’s House is called the Grange? Officially it's the Hamilton Grange National Memorial. Did you know the house, Federal style, was built in 1801? Did you know the house was moved twice, once in 1899 and the other in 2006? In 2006, they managed to move it in ONE piece. There is a 7-minute film titled Moving the Grange playing at Alex’s House. It is fun (and tense) as you watch the contractors move it. This particular film you cannot find online. So you must go to Alex’s house to see it.

The Grange was the only house Hamilton ever owned, occupying it in the last part of his life after he retired from public office. How is it that the first Secretary of Treasury did not own a house until late in life?

Recently, a park ranger took me on a tour of the house. We were able to enjoy the entryway where Alexander’s visitors would have come through. We also were taken to a few rooms, e.g.his parlor, living room and study. Unfortunately, we were not permitted to go upstairs to the Hamilton’s living quarters with their 8 kids. I asked why, and was told that one of the reasons is that they have no documentation as to how it was laid out when the Hamiltons had occupied the house. Therefore, they cannot interpret it and do not want to do it an injustice.

Downstairs, there is a 15 minute video of the bio of the ten dollar man from his childhood to the duel. Good concise review of his life for those of us who might need “cliff notes”. Also downstairs is a room displaying artifacts, articles, and quotes of Hamilton.

Hamilton Grange National Memorial
Hamilton Grange National Memorial
Photo: Theresa LaSalle

I was struck by one item in particular: An original mourning scarf that was worn by a person at the time of Hamilton’s death. The exhibit explains that in Hamilton’s time sometimes people wore scarves to mourn the death of a political leader.

Very detailed and intricate with drawings, sketches, words, this particular scarf tells a story. For instance, there is an image of an African American mourning at Hamilton’s tomb. This represents Hamilton’s work as an opponent of slavery. And on the same scarf there is a scroll on the right with the words “health and honor to any senator who can find a way to end dueling in the U.S.” Other images are also depicted that symbolize his life.

A quote that stands out, written to his wife Elizabeth before his duel with Burr (in perhaps a just-in-case letter) "Adieu, best of wives and best of women. Embrace all my darling children for me."

Also, downstairs is a gift shop. Alex’s mug is on mugs, thermoses, and a myriad of other products.

Even though I was disappointed that the upstairs living quarters was not open to us, I kept saying to myself, this was his house. I am in the House of Alexander.

On my way out as I exited the gift shop, I noticed a very large wooden plaque that read:

If it were to be asked, what is the most sacred duty and greatest course of security in a Republic? The answer would be, an inviolable respect for the Constitution and Laws.

-- Alexander Hamilton

Hamilton Grange National Memorial
Theresa LaSalle

Theresa LaSalle

Contributing Writer

Theresa taught history and political science for 34 years in New York City Public High Schools, 19 years at Seward Park and the last 14 years at LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts. She is a born and raised New Yorker from the borough of Queens and currently lives in Jackson Heights. She is madly in love with her city and is the forever tourist in her own town. You will see her wandering in each borough as her curiosity almost exhausts her.

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