A few weeks ago friends and I visited The Merchant’s House Museum located at 29 East Fourth Street in Manhattan http://merchantshouse.org/ . I wasn’t that familiar with the neighborhood and didn’t know what to expect so I ended up standing on the street corner glaring at my iPhone looking more like a tourist than I like to. Trying to act like I knew where I was going even though I had actually spun around in a circle I finally walked back the way I had come and found the house. I guess I was expecting a big sign or something but it looked quite ordinary on the outside but the inside was worth the trip.
The members of the Tredwell family lived in the house for almost 100 years. The house was built in 1832 “on spec” and sold to SeburyTredwell in 1840, a family member lived there until 1933 and in 1936 it became a museum. The home still houses most of the original furniture, many personal items as well as other period pieces. According to the website, “In New York City, it has been awarded landmark status not only for its 1832 late-Federal brick exterior but also for its Greek revival interior rooms.” Our tour started in the basement and proceeded through the main floor entertaining space and ended in the servant’s quarters on the third floor. Being a Downton Abbey fan, it was interesting to see the American merchant class version of life with servants complete with a bell system, separate entrance and back stairs. The other think about the tour that I found very interesting was to ponder all the events and advancements that occurred in the 100 years the family owned the house.
The Merchant House is currently endangered due to the proposed construction of a hotel next door. To read about the issues surrounding the merchant house visit http://merchantshouse.org/endangered. I would suggest adding Merchant House to your NYC sightseeing list. It won’t be the flashiest thing or the newest or even the oldest but it will be worth the trip.