The Manor: Three Centuries at a Slave Plantation on Long Island

Mac Griswold

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In 1984, the landscape historian Mac Griswold was rowing along a Long Island creek when she came upon Sylvester Manor, a stately mansion guarded by hulking boxwoods. When Griswold went inside, she encountered a house full of revelations, including a letter from Thomas Jefferson and—most remarkable and disturbing—what the aged owner, Andrew Fiske, casually called the “slave staircase.”

This staircase would reveal the extensive but little-known story of Northern slavery, and in 1997 Griswold returned with a team of archaeologists, uncovering a landscape filled with stories. Based on years of research—and voyages that took her as far as West Africa—Griswold has given us both the biography of a place that has witnessed war and reversals in fortune, and the riveting story of the family that has occupied it for three centuries. A fine-grained account and a sweeping drama, The Manor captures American history in all its richness and contradictions.

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1
 

THE DISCOVERY
 
Boxwood
It has taken us about twenty minutes to get into Gardiners Creek from a mooring in the town harbor of Shelter Island, set snugly between two peninsulas, the North and South Forks of Long Island, New York, whose tips stretch out to touch the western edge of the Atlantic Ocean, where the Gulf Stream runs close to the continent as it flows north and east toward Europe.
The tide is full as we ease the dinghy through a big pipe that supports a bridge, a bridge so low to the water that we have to flatten ourselves on the thwarts to get through

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Reviews

Praise for The Manor: Three Centuries at a Slave Plantation on Long Island

“Griswold’s deft unpacking of the Sylvester Manor mystery reveals the uncomfortable, complicated history they left behind....[A] precise, beautiful book...Haunting.”—The Boston Globe

“Extraordinary...This is an important book, for it is not just about a house. It is about the world and the destruction we have caused in it, all for the sake of making that place called home.”—Jamaica Kincaid

“History buffs will love The Manor, and it tells a story that needs to be told....[The house is] a remarkable relic of American history.”—The Washington Post

“Griswold skillfully weaves a historical tapestry of considerable complexity.”—Women’s Wear Daily

“A lively history of early American settlement...Like that Pulitzer Prize-winning work [The Hemingses of Monticello], The Manor is American history tightly compressed.”—The Atlantic Wire
 


In the Press

Sylvester Manor on Shelter Island Returns to Its Roots - NYTimes.com
In the hands of a new generation, Sylvester Manor, the 17th-century estate on Shelter Island, has returned to its roots as a working farm, but in a 21st-century sort of way.
- The New York Times

Summer Reading Guide - The Atlantic Wire
The Atlantic Wire covers news, opinion and aggregates content on business, politics, entertainment, technology, global and national on the official site of The Atlantic Wire
- The Atlantic Wire

The House on Shelter Island: The Story of a Northern Slave Plantation - The Daily Beast
Mac Griswold tells Jane Ciabattari about an estate near the Hamptons that used to be one of the largest slave-owning plantations in the North.
- The Daily Beast

Island Profile: Mac Griswold, telling the tale of the Manor | Shelter Island Reporter
Profile of writer Mac Griswold
- Shelter Island Reporter

The Past Is Never Dead. It’s Not Even Past. | National Review Online
The Past Is Never Dead. It’s Not Even Past. -
- National Review

Slaveholders’ Estate, Hiding in Plain Sight - NYTimes.com
Books about a slaveholders’ estate on Long Island, the origins and continuing restoration of Prospect Park and a voyage through New York City’s food universe.
- The New York Times

The secret history of the Hampton's Sylvester Manor - Hamptons Cottages & Gardens - July 1 2013 - Hamptons
Landscape historian Mac Griswold unveils the truth behind a Shelter Island slave plantation in her new book <i>The Manor: Three Centuries at a Slave Plantation on Long Island.<i>
- Cottages & Gardens

- The Washington Post
In “The Manor,” gardening historian Mac Griswold traces three centuries of a Long Island slave plantation
- The Washington Post


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About the Author

Mac Griswold

Mac Griswold is a cultural landscape historian and the author of Washingtons Gardens at Mount Vernon and The Golden Age of American Gardens. She has won a Guggenheim Fellowship and has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Travel + Leisure. She lives in Sag Harbor, New York.

Mac Griswold

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Mac Griswold

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Available Formats and Book Details

The Manor: Three Centuries at a Slave Plantation on Long Island
Mac Griswold

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
Picador
April 2014
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9781250050205
ISBN10: 1250050200
6 x 9 inches, 480 pages, Includes one 8-page full-color insert, 43 black-and-white photographs, 7 maps, and 1 family tree
$18.00

Hardcover

Hardcover
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
July 2013
Hardcover
ISBN: 9780374266295
ISBN10: 0374266298
6 x 9 inches, 480 pages, 8 Pages of Color Illustrations/43 Black-and-White Illustrations/5 Maps/Family Tree/Time Line/Notes/Bibliography/Index
$28.00

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
July 2013
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781466837010
ISBN10: 1466837012
480 pages, 8 Pages of Color Illustrations/43 Black-and-White Illustrations/5 Maps/Family Tree/Time Line/Notes/Bibliography/Index
$9.99
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Picador

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