HARLEM — A visit to Alexander Hamilton’s Harlem home proved to be a source of inspiration for Nicholas Christopher, the newest George Washington in the smash Broadway hit “Hamilton.”
Christopher broke in his powered wig, stockings, breeches and waistcoat last week as he transitioned into the role of the nation’s first president.
But on a private tour of the Hamilton Grange National Memorial in St. Nicholas Park last Friday, he learned more personal details of the influential founding fathers — and helped develop his character.
“I’m picking up on things that were in the show,” he said, such as Hamilton’s penchant for the color green which is evident in his study and living room.
“You don’t know (sometimes) if people are taking artistic liberty with history.”
The home has been restored to resemble as closely as possible what Hamilton would have seen during the two years he lived in the home.
It contains mostly replicas consistent with the colonial era and Hamilton’s taste, though there are some pieces donated by his descendants.
He also learned about the relationship between Washington and Hamilton, including some of the gifts Washington gave to him.
“That’s really amazing to see,” he said. “To really see how close he and George Washington were and how much they meant to each other.”
The house, built in 1802, originally stood on Hamilton's 34-acre estate on the site of what would eventually become West 143rd Street.
As the street grid developed, the house was moved in 1889 to save it from demolition. The Federalist-style home was moved again in 2008 to the southeast corner of St. Nicholas Park at West 141st Street.
In restoring the home, the Park Service hoped to reanimate the discussion about Hamilton’s influence in the country, especially given the later popularity of the Broadway musical.
And it seems to have worked. The memorial has seen a sharp increase in tours — from 28,000 to 72,000 since 2012.
Another push by the service is to get people to visit parks, something that is a mission of Mikah Meyer, who tagged along with Christopher.
Meyer, 30, is trying to break a world record by visiting all 413 places within the National Park System. If he does, he would be the youngest person to visit all sites and the first one to do it in one trip.
Since April, he has been traveling across the country in a mobile home. So far, he has been to 83 sites.
A Nebraska native, he was inspired to take up the task after his father’s death when Meyer was 19. The trips served as a “healing experience,” he said.
He has completed the upper Midwest and the Northeast regions of the country.
“The coolest thing about this is that there are all these awesome places right here around you,” he said.