Monday, May 2, 2011

Morris-Jumel Mansion (2 of 2): 162nd St & St. Nicholas Ave

Sylan Terrace, Historic Carriage Houses North of Morris-Jumel Mansion,
Recent Set of HBO's Mob Series, "Boardwalk Empire"
The independent corporation that manages the Morris-Jumel Mansion not only brings history to life by taking care of this historical mansion, but they provide educational tours, student programs, book discussions, theater performances, and writing workshops.  I think they strive to inspire and support visitors' imaginations and minds.

I attended a historical fiction writing workshop just to try something new.  The instructors from Uptown Writers were very encouraging, talked about aspects important to writing historical fiction (like extensive research), and had all the participants take a shot at using something from the mansion to inspire a short writing.  I must say that these creative mental muscles were sorely atrophied in me, but with a little excitement and trepidation, I tried my hand at the 20 minute exercise.

I picked a special piece of furniture in Eliza Chase's (Eliza Jumel never had children of her own but adopted her sister's daughter and son as her own) bedroom.  This metamorphic desk/chair (see right) was patented by Stephen Hedges in 1854 and could be opened, top flipped open in half (as shown) forming a seat inside the table on wheels, or it could be closed and the top flipped closed to be a more traditional side table.

Here's an excerpt of what I wrote to hopefully help you get inspired to try something new:

William was locked in.  There was no other way to get him to concentrate on his lessons so it was just as well.  Aunt Eliza dropped him into the metamorphic desk-chair and hooked the contraption closed.  There were no comforting cushions, but then again it wasn't made for comfort.  He felt the hard edge of the seat dig into the backs of his thighs as he shuffled himself and the whole desk-chair unit toward a window.  Perhaps he could catch a glimpse of Milton's boy in the garden.  If only he could finish his letters.  Then Aunt Eliza would let him out, flip down the top and shut the desk closed.  She would pat his shoulder and tell him he was a good boy for working so hard and that as a reward he could go outside and play.  Then he'd be free....

No comments:

Post a Comment