There's always something new at Manhattan's oldest house

A Taste for Chocolate

February 17 - May 29, 2017


The Morris-Jumel Mansion (MJM), Manhattan’s oldest house, will present a special exhibition exploring cacao and chocolate as a commodity and emerging breakfast tradition in colonial and post-colonial America. Stephen Jumel’s role as an importer and purveyor will be revealed in archival material from MJM’s collection. The exhibition focuses on how cocoa— typically sold in “cakes” and served as a hot drink flavored with vanilla, honey, and spices—became a popular beverage during Eliza Jumel’s lifetime (1775‒1865).


Known for its effect as a stimulant and easily transported, both British and American soldiers were supplied with cocoa cakes to mix with hot water for breakfast. Benjamin Franklin, who sold chocolate in his Philadelphia print shop, ensured that the Continental Army marching against General Braddock’s forces in 1775 were equipped with chocolate to boost their energy. In 1785, Thomas Jefferson predicted that cocoa would become American’s favorite after the Boston Tea Party and before coffee rose as the popular choice. Abigail Adams wrote to her husband about drinking breakfast chocolate during a trip to London, and Martha Washington made “cocoa tea.” George Washington and his officers used the Mansion as their headquarters in the fall of 1776. Despite its use in the military as a ration, when Stephen Jumel was importing cacao in the early nineteenth century (ca. 1820) it was enjoyed mostly by the upper and upper-middle classes. Eliza Jumel’s generation saw the democratization of chocolate as production techniques improved, the taste and texture became more palatable, and peoples’ taste for chocolate grew. A Taste for Chocolate will feature art objects from a private collection including rare books, antiquarian botanical prints, chocolate services and pots, and other decorative arts. Advertisements for Cadbury’s and Frye’s provide a window onto how cocoa was marketed in Europe and the U.S., and an original printed inventory from Stephen Jumel’s dry goods business lists a cacao shipment from the West Indies.

A Taste for Chocolate Exhibition Opening Event

February 17th, 2017    |   6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Join us for the opening of what will surely be a tasty exhibition, which will explore the role of cacao and chocolate as a commodity throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Wine and chocolate desserts will be provided by Nova Catering.


Chocolate Day 2017

February 18th, 2017   |   3:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Come celebrate our ninth annual Chocolate Day which will include a tour of the new exhibition, A Taste for Chocolate led by Curator and Director Carol S. Ward. Following the tour, Ms. Ward will lead a tasting of different varieties of chocolate.

$30, $25 Members/Students. For more information, please contact

In Their Words: Teen Reactions to 18th Century Slavery

December 2016  - April 2017

The first enslaved African Americans were brought to Manhattan by the Dutch West India Company in 1626, performing laborious tasks during the growth of New Amsterdam. After rule of the Colony shifted from Dutch to British control in 1664, the practice continued well into the early Republic, and New York’s enslaved population eventually grew to be the second largest in the entire country. The Mansion, known as Mt. Morris at the time, was itself home to numerous enslaved servants - both the Morris family (1765-1776) and George Washington (September - October, 1776) were owners of enslaved people. During the American Revolution, many enslaved people in New York joined the fight on both sides, drawn by the promise of emancipation for their service.

Through the New York City Department of Education’s Teen Thursday program, students from PS 149 Sojourner Truth undertook a seven-week collaboration with the museum to study the roles of various enslaved African Americans in Colonial New York. Together, students interacted with the museum’s collection, specifically objects which would have been used by the enslaved servants. Students examined these artifacts, discovering the unwritten history behind them and the skills required for their use. The culminating activity was for students to create an exhibition, focusing on the objects’ connections to enslaved people and factual information surrounding the objects. The reflections you see here represent the students' authentic reactions to, and their personal journey through the difficult topic of slavery in 18th century New York.

65 Jumel Terrace, New York, New York, 10032

(212) 923-8008

Morris-Jumel Mansion is a proud member of the Historic House Trust of New York City
and partner of the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation.