Merchant's House Museum
29 East Fourth Street
New York, NY 10003
The Merchant's Museum is New York City's only family home preserved intact from the 19th century. A National Historic and New York City landmark, the house was built in 1832 and was home to a prosperous merchant family for 100 years. It is the City's prime example of a Greek Revival home. Complete with its original furniture, decorative arts, and personal memorabilia, it offers an intimate glimpse of domestic life during the period when New York was transformed from a colonial seaport to a thriving metropolis.
As an importer of hardware, with a business on Pearl Street near the South Street Seaport, Seabury Tredwell was typical of the merchants of his day who worked in the counting houses of the Seaport and "commuted" by horse-drawn omnibus to the Bond Street area, as the city's exclusive residential neighborhood was known in the 19th century. In 1835, he and his wife Eliza moved his large family of seven children into the red-brick and white marble rowhouse. Five years later, an eighth child, Gertrude, was born in the house.
Over the years, as the city continued to grow, the Tredwell's neighbors gradually abandoned the neighborhood for more elegant homes "uptown." But the Tredwells remained on East Fourth Street. Gertrude Tredwell never married and continued to live in the house until she died in an upstairs bedroom in 1933. The house was opened as a museum in 1936.
Three floors of the house are available for viewing: the ground floor, comprising the family dining room and kitchen; the parlor floor; and a bedroom floor.
The formal Greek Revival parlors with their black and gold mantelpieces, heavy mahogany pocket doors, and detailed plaster ceiling medallions and ornamentation, reflect the prevailing taste of the day.
Period furniture from New York's finest cabinet makers (including Duncan Phyfe and Joseph Meeks), and opulent decorative accessories like Argand oil lamps with crystal prisms, original oil paintings of European vistas, and silver candlesticks were acquired by the Tredwells over the course of half a century.
Household possessions and personal belongings are also on display - for example, crocks, dishes, sewing boxes, unfinished needlework, basins, chamber pots, a portable bath tub - leaving the impression that the family has just stepped out and will return shortly. Gowns belonging to Mrs. Tredwell and her grown daughters, as well as hats, parasols, shawls, shoes, gloves, reticules, and fans, are exhibited on a rotating basis.