Merchant’s House Museum
29 East 4th Street
New York, NY 10003
Open: Sunday 12:00pm-5:00pm/Monday-Wednesday Closed/Thursday-Saturday 12:00pm-5:00pm
Admission: Adults $15.00/Seniors (over 65) and Students $10.00/Members are free/ Special Guided tours are $20.00
My review on TripAdvisor:
The Merchant House at 29 East 4th Street in NoHo
The Historic Plaque
The house is part of the NYCParks system
(from the museum’s pamphlet):
The Merchant House Museum, the former home to four generations of the Treadwell family, was built in 1832 and is designed in the late Federal style of brick and marble. When the house was built, elegant Greek Revival style rowhouses of red brick and white marble flanked the tree lined streets of this fashionable residential enclave, known then as the Bond Street Area.
The house was the home of wealthy merchant, Seabury Tredwell, his family and their four servants. Over the next 98 years, the family lived there and saw the neighborhood and the city grow, change and prosper. In 1936, after the death of the last living relative, the house opened as a museum, complete with Tredwell family’s original furnishings and personal possessions.
At the Midcentury, cast iron made its first appearance and commercial buildings and factories came to dominate the area. By the century’s end, it would be a commercial district with the Tredwell’s being the last holdouts of the area. The house was saved by the last relative’s grand nephew who bought the home to preserve it as a museum.
The home is now part of the NoHo Historic District that includes about 160 buildings, 11 of which are distinguished as individual NYC landmarks
The Entrance Hallway where you would be greeted when you enter the house
The Merchant House Kitchen ready for dinner to be prepared
the Dining Room was set for the Dutch New Year gathering
The Christmas holidays were not a big tradition in the early 1830’s when the house was built. The Dutch tradition of visiting on New Year’s Day and making calls to your friends was what many fashionable families would do to socialize with their neighbors. Tea, Coffee and punch would be served along with cakes, sweets and savories. These calls would only last about ten to fifteen minutes before you would move onto the next house. This tradition continued until Victorian times when homes were spread further apart and the family Christmas celebrations with gift giving and a Christmas tree came into fashion due to Queen Victoria and the spread of English and German traditions.
The punchbowl ready for guests on New Year’s Day
Refreshments ready for the New Year’s Day gathering
The broken pieces of the china collection of the Treadwell family. There is not a full collection of china that the family had to entertain with for formal affairs. They also did not have any china or silver of the family’s. I think that this might have been passed down to the heirs.
The Parlor of the Merchant House Museum
The piano in the Parlor of the home
The fireplace in the Parlor
The Parlor is where the family would gather after meals for entertainment and to converse with guests. This would be the main part of the house for socializing as the formal dining room and living rooms would be used for more formal affairs.
The Living Room in the Merchant House
The stairs are rather narrow and steep when you are heading upstairs to the bedrooms so you have to hold on to the rails. The bedrooms are normal size by today’s standards but back then they were pretty big plus people had their own rooms. They were nicely furnished with family heirlooms and antiques.
Mr. Treadwell’s bedroom
The portrait of Mr. Treadwell in his bedroom
Mrs. Treadwell’s bedroom
In Victorian times, the wealthy would have separate bedrooms for the husband and wife. Bedrooms would not just be a place to sleep but they were also a place of business where the family members would do their paperwork, write correspondence and arrange social events. Also, in the case of birthing, the child would be in the bedroom with their mother.
The “Valentine’s Day Card” exhibition “19th Century Valentines: Confections of Affection” on the second floor is part of the house’s extensive collection. ‘Delicate and lacy, these expressions of love celebrate the whimsy and romance of the Golden Age of Valentines’ (from the pamphlet).
The Children’s bedrooms on the third floor were closed off and used as offices for the staff so I made my way up to the Servant’s Quarters on the top floor. These people really got their exercise climbing those stairs up and down every day. The stairs seemed to get more narrow as you headed higher and God forbid there ever be a fire. You would be trapped up there with no way out.
The Servants Room on the fourth floor
The Servants Room on the fourth floor was pretty spare
Looking for the paranormal
Looking for a ghost on the fourth floor
During October, the museum hosts “Gaslight Ghost Tours”, where you tour the home by candlelight. There have been strange noises in the house ever since Gertrude Tredwell passed in 1934. She had been born in the house in 1840 and lived here until she was 93. She had never married and now it is said that her spirit is still part of the home (museum pamphlet).
After viewing the Servants Quarters and not finding any ghosts, I headed back downstairs to the main hallway leading into the house. There I saw the timeline of the family and all the family members that had lived in the house. It seemed that the last living relative, Gertrude, died in the house in 1934 and her grand-nephew bought the house and all its debts at the height of the Depression to preserve the home as a museum. Talk about insight! The nephew knew how important this home would be one day.
The Treadwell family tree in the hallway downstairs
The last part of the tour was the gardens in the back of the home. It was not a formal yard but a well landscaped walled in garden with a small fountain in the back of the gardens. The flowers were just starting to come up and there were crocuses and daffodils One of the curators was the Master Gardener for the property and did a nice job landscaping the property.
The back of the Merchant House Museum in the late Winter in the Gardens
The Gardens of the Treadwell house in the late Winter
The fountain at the gardens was off but now means to come back in the late Spring
There is a more formal tour a couple of times a day of the home but that is by reservation only and there is a separate fee.
The museum is currently having a fight to keep construction away from the home. The ten year battle to keep a hotel from being built has been a problem for the museum. The foundation and structure of the home are in danger due to the fragile state of the building. The Landmark Preservation Commission of New York is researching and looking over the proposal.
The museum is a perfect way to see how residents of a Upper Middle Class family lived in Pre-Victorian times and show the last vestiges of the neighborhood when it was a fashionable section of the City.