Merchant's House Museum

Occupying an elegant 19th-century residence, the Merchant's House Museum offers a glimpse into the lives of a prosperous New York family. This unique museum is split into several period rooms that display thousands of antique items, ranging from furniture and musical instruments to cooking tools and books.

History

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In the early 1830s, Joseph Brewster constructed a charming home in a part of New York City that was considered relatively tranquil. By the end of the decade, Seabury Tredwell purchased the property to accommodate his growing family. This successful merchant passed away in 1865, and his immediate and distant relatives continued to live in the home for decades to come. Affluent and well-established in the commercial and social circles of NYC, the Tredwell family had their own servants. At the beginning of the 20th century, the family's once quiet and prestigious neighbourhood was heavily influenced by rapid industrialisation and urbanisation. Nevertheless, Gertrude Tredwell stubbornly decided to live the rest of her life in the elegant, but crumbling home. After her death in the 1930s, George Chapman eagerly bought the property to save it from destruction. Records indicate that he was a related to the Gertrude family. After some major renovations, the Seabury Tredwell House officially opened as a museum in 1936. For more than two decades, Chapman continued to provide financial support to the organisation.

Architecture

The Merchant's House Museum was originally designed by the local architect Minard Lafever. The Federal architectural style gained major momentum in the United States during the early 19th century, so he appropriately chose this design for the property. However, some parts of the house have features that are classified as Greek revival. . At the time it was built, the row house was similar to an array of other buildings that lined the dense streets of Lower Manhattan. However, the Merchant's House Museum now boasts the status of being one of the finest examples of 19th-century residential architecture in the city. In fact, the United States government and NYC have given the Merchant's House Museum official designation of a historic landmark.

Collection and Highlights

The core collection at the Merchant's House Museum consists of more than 3,000 items. Most of the artefacts are authentic personal possessions that once belonged to the Tredwell family. In the furniture category, more than 100 pieces are on display in the permanent exhibit spaces that are essentially set up as period rooms. Some of the furniture was crafted by the prominent cabinetmaker Duncan Phyfe. Oil lamps, chandeliers and other lighting fixtures are included in the gallery space. Visitors can also expect to see hundreds of traditional textiles, including elegant dresses and suits that have been worn by members of this successful family. Books, toys, kitchen utensils and decorative installations are some other items that make up the unique collection at the Merchant's House Museum.

Visiting Merchant's House Museum

The Merchant's House Museum is nested in the heart of Lower Manhattan. This historic property literally stands at the unofficial border of Greenwich Village and East Village. Washington Square Park is one of the most notable features of these two districts that have been traditionally known for their Bohemian character. You can conveniently get to the museum by taking a subway ride to the Astor Place station. This underground stop is served by the 4 and 6 lines, which run through most of Manhattan. Four additional subway lines stop at the Broadway-Lafayette Street station that's just a few blocks south of the museum. You'll also find numerous Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) buses circulating the grid layout of Lower Manhattan. Surrounded by multiple triangular plots, the busy Cooper Square doesn't have the most car-friendly layout in the borough. Therefore, it's highly recommended that drivers seek parking space in some of the residential neighbourhoods that branch off the Bowery.

Location: 29 East Fourth Street, New York City, NY, 10003

Click here to visit Merchant's House Museum official website

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