MORRIS JUMEL HOUSE
July 10th • WASHINGTON HEIGHTS
The Morris Jumel Mansion is the oldest house in Manhattan, so it’s had some time to gain itself a reputation.
The Morris Jumel Mansion is unique in that it holds a piece of American history (it’s where Washington was stationed for a time during the revolutionary war. As the second highest point in Manhattan, he had a singular vantage to look out over the terrain to watch the movements of incoming hostilities), has a reputation as haunted house (it’s been known to have abnormally high paranormal activity, attracting thousands of people annually), and it’s one of the only 18th century stand alone houses built in Manhattan that still exist, giving visitors a colonial taste right there in the heart of Washington Heights.
Charming Disaster is a gothic folk duo made up of Ellia Bisker and Jeff Morris, that’s known for sweetly singing into the darker realms. Their new album Spells + Rituals, solidifies this Addams Familyesque warm morbid aesthetic. It helps that Jeff and Ellia are extraorindarily nice. Even the ghosts can’t complain sharing the space with them. The Morris Jumel house was actually their idea, so give credit where its due– sometimes our hand is heavy in curation, and sometimes it’s just connecting two things that were destined to go together. Here are Charming Disaster’s thoughts from their time:
Our 360 minute residency at the historic Morris-Jumel Mansion was such a gift; New York City is hectic and Morris Jumel is a quiet refuge, another world in another time. We feel such gratitude for being able to hunker down in this beautiful space and work in a focused way. We were able to accomplish a great deal in a relatively short period of time, inspired in part by the stately calm of the surroundings. We were able to dig in and work uninterrupted for six hours straight, although we took advantage of our breaks to explore the house. We felt as if we were part visitor, part exhibit -- while we were working in the mostly empty front room of this (haunted) mansion, once in a while a visitor would peek in and quietly observe us in the throes of our creative process (singing or playing a part over and over; typing; staring at the laptop screen), then walk on. Were we the ghosts? Vinny, Chris, and the rest of the staff were helpful and supportive, yet left us on own during our time there. It was an overwhelmingly positive experience and we are pleased to report we have a new song very close to completion.
Listen to a sneak peak of the new song HERE.
Ghosts come in many forms. Some of them are history’s shadows– things we as a culture have not put to rest, acknowledged, digested. Others are just eccentric spirits who aren’t quite done with this realm. Morris Jumel Mansion seems to have a bit of both.
One of the best parts of our job as curators is finding the creative lining in all the upholstery.
Vinny Carbone, the program manager at Morris Jumel House, doesn’t come from a historical restoration or Colonial period background, like you might expect. He’s a theater guy who stumbled upon Morris Jumel while doing a Ghost Hunt and working with them to create a haunted house experience. It just goes to show you that most people in most jobs have some passion, some creative underlining that drives them. How amazing to have a moment to celebrate it in every unassuming person doing their job to get by, pay the bills, hustle their flow. Sometimes it’s just about giving it a little time, space or acknowledgement. On that note: same goes for how to deal with the ghosts.