word craft


The Sugarhouse

Sophia’s War, just pub­lished, is a tale about the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion. It takes places in New York City.

As read­ers of the book will learn, the British occu­pied New York for most of the war. I tried to describe the city as best as I could, based on rather exten­sive research. One of the key sites in the book is a build­ing known as The Sug­ar­house. This build­ing was orig­i­nal­ly a place where Jamaican sug­ar was boiled down to become molasses. Since fire was involved, the build­ing was made of stone. Dur­ing the war the British con­vert­ed it into a prison, and it became noto­ri­ous for its squalor, depri­va­tions, and cruelty—a place where many, many Amer­i­cans died.

I recent­ly went to New York City and wan­dered about the area where the sto­ry takes place.    Need­less to say, though many of the nar­row streets have their old names, almost noth­ing that exist­ed then, exists today. Except one thing. When the old Sug­ar­house was torn down, some­one saved one of the barred win­dows. It was even­tu­al­ly installed in a wall near what is called Police Plaza. It took some search­ing and lots of ask­ing, but I found it, a tru­ly poignant memo­r­i­al. And here it is. 

Sugar House

3 thoughts on “The Sugarhouse”

  1. I teach 4th grade and have Sophi­a’s War on my “to read” list. I am also vis­it­ing New York City in a few weeks and would love to vis­it this site and take pic­tures to share with my class. Do you hap­pen to know the address?

  2. My 8 year old son Lyon loves your book. He enjoyed the whole series of Pop­py and also Crosipin which espe­cial­ly made him into his­tor­i­cal fic­tion and he wrote a sto­ry about Napoleon over sum­mer. We live in NYC and would love to vis­it sug­ar­house once we fin­ish the book!!!! Thank you so much

  3. I real­ly think it’s cool that there are con­nec­tions like this to books. It is awe­some because you can com­pare the real thing to the descrip­tion the author has paint­ed into our heads, and see if they did a good job. In this case, absolutely.


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