Hamilton Grange National Monument New York, NY
Client: U.S Department of the Interior, National Park Service
Project Type: Structure Report Update; Relocation, Stabilization and Restoration
Hamilton Grange National Monument (1802) was the country house of Alexander Hamilton, one of our nation’s founding fathers, a Revolutionary War leader, and first Secretary of the Treasury. Located in the Hamilton Heights neighborhood of Harlem, the two-story wood-framed house he built for his family was moved approximately three blocks from its original location in 1889. To properly restore the historic integrity of the freestanding building, it was relocated again to nearby St. Nicholas Park, which is situated on part of Hamilton’s original estate. John G. Waite Associates, Architects lead the the meticulous process of investigation and documentation which culminated in the relocation and restoration of the building.
In 2005, Alexander Hamilton’s beloved Grange was 250 feet from its original home and hemmed in on three sides by adjacent buildings. Stripped of its porches, with its interior heavily modified, the Grange was far from the “sweet project” that Hamilton envisioned in 1802 – a rural retreat overlooking his New York. A new location was found one block away: St. Nicholas Park, the bucolic refuge at the heart of the vibrant Hamilton Heights community, and part of Hamilton’s original estate.
Hamilton Grange after the comprehensive interior and exterior restoraiton.
JGWA spent three years investigating the original building fabric, searching for clues of its original appearance and ensuring that the move, new systems, and accessibility features would cause minimal damage to the house.
JGWA designed the move and oversaw the construction of a new cellar and basement for mechanical systems and exhibits. In 2008 the Grange was finally lifted over the adjacent church and then moved – no ordinary technical feat. It would take three more years to restore the house. JGWA prepared a Historic Furnishings Plan and then determined interior finishes and reproductions of Hamilton’s furniture. Lost interior and exterior features were reconstructed. JGWA also worked with graphic and exhibit designers to develop the basement displays which now serve as an exhibit space where visitors can learn more about the life of Alexander Hamilton and the history of Hamilton Grange. The use of recycled materials is inherent in preservation, and the Grange is no exception. Brownstone blocks from the 1889 basement were reused for the porch foundation. The 1970s porches were disassembled and reconfigured to recreate the historic porches. Energy- efficient fixtures light the exhibition and service spaces. On the exterior, roof runoff is collected and directed to newly landscaped areas of indigenous plants once found on Hamilton’s property.
Hamilton Grange in its previous urban setting on Convent Avenue.
The historic house was hemmed in by St. Luke’s Episcopal Church to the south, and by an apartment building to the north.
JGWA also assisted the National Park Service with the National Historic Landmark (NHL) designation for Hamilton Grange by updating the NHL documents to reflect the building’s most recent move and restoration.
At the 2011 opening on Constitution Day, 3,000 people came to honor Hamilton and the home that symbolized his aspirations for his America. The Grange is now a fitting setting to tell his story.
Video courtesy of the National Park Service.
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