Seabury Tredwell House

The Merchant's House Museum, known formerly as the Old Merchant's House and as the Seabury Tredwell House, is the only nineteenth-century family home in New York City preserved intact — both inside and out. Built "on speculation" in 1832 by Joseph Brewster, a hatter by trade, it is located at 29 East Fourth Street, between Lafayette Street and the Bowery in Manhattan. It became a museum in 1936, founded by George Chapman, a cousin of the family who once lived there.Of note, the House was among the first 20 buildings designated in 1965 under the City’s new landmarks law. It is the only historic house museum in the Greenwich Village/Soho/NoHo neighborhoods.HistoryJoseph Brewster, the builder, sold the house to Seabury Tredwell, a wealthy New York merchant, for $18,000. Tredwell's daughter, Gertrude, was born in the house in 1840.Gertrude and her seven siblings, two brothers and five sisters, all lived in the house together with their parents, four servants, and an ever-changing assortment of nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts and other relatives. Only two daughters and one son ever married, which was unusual for that era and for an affluent family with social position.Seabury died in 1865 and the remaining family lived at the home into old age. Gertrude, the youngest member of the immediate family, lived here alone for 24 years after the death of her sister Julia in 1909. As she grew older and more eccentric she became obsessed with holding on to the elegant home in a neighborhood that had become, by the early 20th century, a run-down, semi-industrial, and disreputable part of town. Burdened with severe financial hardship in her last years, she somehow managed to keep the beautiful home in nearly original condition, long after all the neighboring private homes had been demolished or converted into rooming houses, tenements, or commercial structures.

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