Merchant's House Museum

Merchant's House Museum Life at Home in Mid-19th Century New York City www.merchantshouse.org Built in 1832, the Merchant's House Museum is New York City's only 19th century home preserved intact, with original family furnishings and personal belongings.
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A unique survivor of Old New York, the House offers a rare and intimate glimpse of how a prosperous merchant family and their four Irish servants lived from 1835 to 1865, when New York grew from seaport to thriving metropolis. "The distinction of the Merchant's House -- and it is a powerful one -- is that it is the real thing. One simply walks through the beautiful doorway into another time and place in New York." The New York Times

Operating as usual

There is perhaps no better illustrator of the mid-19th Century New York City street scene that the Tredwells knew so wel...
11/12/2020

There is perhaps no better illustrator of the mid-19th Century New York City street scene that the Tredwells knew so well, than Nicolino Calyo (1799-1884). Today’s Tredwell Times in Art features Calyo’s “The Charcoal Cart” (1840-1844), one of a series of watercolors called “Cries of New York,” @nyhistory that capture in detail the various hawkers and characters who roamed New York streets, selling and delivering goods to the City’s residents. Born in Italy and formally trained in art at the Naples Academy, Calyo arrived in New York City in 1835, and began creating the depictions of familiar street scenes with a meticulous eye to detail. The coal cart would arrive regularly at the Tredwell home on Fourth Street, and the coal man loaded coal into the chute that went to the coal bin in the cellar. With seven coal-burning fireplaces and a coal stove in their home, the Tredwells relied on the regular delivery of coal, especially in the colder months. The Tredwell servants, who interacted with the tradespeople who rang the bell, undoubtedly knew the coal seller by name. Note what is written in small script on the cart, “Honesty is the best policy.” Had Calyo been swindled by a street character? Perhaps. #merchantshousemuseum #nicolinocalyo #newyorkhistoricalsociety #newyorkhistory #nychistory #charcoalcart #coalcart #nineteenthcenturylife #nineteenthcenturyart #americanart #newyorkstreetscene #nineteenthcenturytradesmen

Today’s Tredwell Times in Art gives a nod to the ascendancy of women in American politics with Lily Martin Spencer’s 185...
11/09/2020

Today’s Tredwell Times in Art gives a nod to the ascendancy of women in American politics with Lily Martin Spencer’s 1854 oil painting, ‘Shake Hands?’ (1854). At first glance this humorous genre painting appears to show either a middle class woman or servant in her kitchen surrounded by her domestic trappings, playfully extending a dough-caked hand to the viewer. But Spencer (1822-1902), who was known for embedding political messages in her work, is claiming this spirited woman’s sense of equality, despite her being pictured within the domestic sphere that was the norm for women in the 19th century. Society was evolving rapidly during this period, due to economic, political, and social changes that loosened class structures. Women were determined to be included in the new Jacksonian democratic forces sweeping the nation, including the gesture of a handshake, permitted only to men. The painting is at the Ohio History Center. #lilymartinspencer #shakehands #merchantshousemuseum #nineteenthcenturyart #nineteenthcenturylife #domesticscenesinart #servants #middleclass #newdemocracy #americanart

Is anyone NOT participating in political discourse this morning? In honor of freedom of speech and the right to vote, to...
11/05/2020

Is anyone NOT participating in political discourse this morning? In honor of freedom of speech and the right to vote, today’s Tredwell Times in Art offers the genre painting ‘Politics in an Oyster House’ (1848) by American artist Richard Caton Woodville (1825-1855). The painting depicts two men who have finished a meal at a ubiquitous oyster cellar (perhaps the famous Downing’s on Broad Street?). Fueled by the political news he has just read in the newspaper he clutches, the younger gentleman is so passionate in his opinions that he has neglected to remove his top hat while indoors. The older man, whose ruddy face indicates that he has perhaps had a liquid lunch, looks at the viewer with an expression that reads as amusement and perhaps a bit of frustration, as if he has seen and heard it all in his longer life. Note the spittoon and the discarded cigar stub in the foreground. A national Election Day was mandated by Congress in 1845; prior to that Presidential elections took place over a 34-day period! In 1848, General Zachary Taylor, a Whig, defeated Senator Lewis Cass, a Democrat. We have no knowledge of the Tredwells’ political leanings. Sadly, Woodville was only 30 years old when he died of a morphine overdose in London. #merchantshousemuseum #tredwelltimesinart #arthistory #nychistory #newyorkhistory #oysterhouse #nineteenthcenturylife #nineteenthcenturypolitics #politicsinart #presidentialelections #voting #politicalarguments #richardcatonwoodville

The Merchant's House Museum is featured on the next episode of the Travel Channel's THE HOLZER FILES: Tell Me No Lies. P...
11/03/2020
Tell Me No Lies

The Merchant's House Museum is featured on the next episode of the Travel Channel's THE HOLZER FILES: Tell Me No Lies. Premiering this Thursday, November 5 at 10 PM (with 3 other showings this month). See the website below for more information. #HolzerFiles

https://www.travelchannel.com/shows/holzer-files/episodes/tell-me-no-lies

Hans Holzer believed a sensational tale of heartache and murder hid the real story behind one of his most famous cases. The team heads to New York City’s Old Merchant’s House to uncover the terrifying truth of this Victorian-age haunting.

Today’s Tredwell Times in Art reminds us that due to our return to Eastern Standard Time, our days are shorter and the e...
11/02/2020

Today’s Tredwell Times in Art reminds us that due to our return to Eastern Standard Time, our days are shorter and the early darkness increases our reliance on adequate lighting. Here we have an 1855 hand-colored wood engraving, ‘Broadway, New York, by Gaslight,’ which appeared in Ballou’s Pictorial Drawing-Room Companion.’ Gaslight first appeared in New York City in 1823, when the newly-incorporated New York Gas Light Company laid gas pipes on Broadway from Grand Street to the Battery. The gas lights were a huge improvement over oil lamps, but the streets were dim enough that if one was seeking to identify a dwelling by house number from a carriage, it required alighting and running up the stoop to get a close look at the doorway. The Tredwells installed gas lighting in their home in 1855, once the pipes were laid on Fourth Street. Even with the gasoliers lit, however, rooms were very dim. In December of 1880, Broadway between 14th and 34th Street was lit with the first electric arc street lamps, earning the nickname “The Great White Way.” #tredwelltimesinart #gaslighting #streetlamps #gasoliers #nineteenthcenturyart #tredwellfamily #greatwhiteway

Just for you, my pretties, I made Soul Cakes to honor the Feast of All Hallows Eve. Eerie things are happening @merchant...
10/30/2020

Just for you, my pretties, I made Soul Cakes to honor the Feast of All Hallows Eve. Eerie things are happening @merchantshouse in preparation for our Happy Hauntings Virtual Halloween Party tomorrow (Saturday) evening at 8 pm. Get your fright on and get spooked by our ghastly ghost stories of actual haunted happenings at the Museum, and bring your own spooky spectral stories. Learn all about Halloween traditions and lore, don your scariest wig, and join us for a spirited celebration. Link in bio! #merchantshousemuseum #happyhauntings #happyhalloween🎃

Today’s Tredwell Times in Art celebrates Halloween, or All Hallow’s Eve, with the painting “Dredges in the Cup (Fortune-...
10/29/2020

Today’s Tredwell Times in Art celebrates Halloween, or All Hallow’s Eve, with the painting “Dredges in the Cup (Fortune-Telling, Fortune Teller), (1838), by renowned New York artist William Sidney Mount. The painting resides at New-York Historical Society. Mount (1807-1868), was born in Setauket, New York, and by the mid-19th Century had cemented his reputation as America’s premier genre painter. In this work, the richly-dressed, shy young ingenue is having her tea leaves read by a country woman or gypsy. Her married friend or relative who accompanies her has protectively draped her arm around her shoulder. In keeping with the 19th Century obsession with seances and spiritualism, tea leaf reading was a popular activity among young women, especially around this time of year, when the obsession with finding a partner was played out with spells and games. Another way of identifying one’s future spouse was to stand in front of a mirror at midnight and eat an apple. One’s future betrothed would then appear reflected in the glass. We don’t know if the Tredwell women harbored any superstitions and indulged in any fortune-telling activities. If they did, no doubt they would have participated without their parents’ knowledge! What do you think? #tredwelltimesinart #merchantshousemuseum #williamsidneymount #arthistory #newyorkhistory #newyorkhistoricalsociety #nineteenthcenturyart #fortuneteller #dregsinthecup #superstitions #halloween #allhallowseve #tredwellfamily

Don’t miss out on Halloween! Hightail it on your broomstick to party like it’s 𝘯𝘰𝘵 2020 and join us for fright and fun w...
10/26/2020

Don’t miss out on Halloween! Hightail it on your broomstick to party like it’s 𝘯𝘰𝘵 2020 and join us for fright and fun with a Zoom social! Come get spooked by ghastly ghost stories of actual Merchant’s House happenings and share your own paranormal experiences with fellow party-goers. Come in costume for a virtual parade, join in party games, show us your best zombie moves on the dance floor, and concoct a witch’s brew or two with our own mixmaster, Martyr Steward! Come get in the spirit!

𝗛𝗮𝗽𝗽𝘆 𝗛𝗮𝘂𝗻𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴𝘀: 𝗔 𝗩𝗶𝗿𝘁𝘂𝗮𝗹 𝗛𝗮𝗹𝗹𝗼𝘄𝗲𝗲𝗻 𝗣𝗮𝗿𝘁𝘆 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 "𝗠𝗮𝗻𝗵𝗮𝘁𝘁𝗮𝗻'𝘀 𝗠𝗼𝘀𝘁 𝗛𝗮𝘂𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗱 𝗛𝗼𝘂𝘀𝗲" is this Saturday (Halloween night!) at 8 p.m. Tickets at http://merchantshouse.org/calendar/reservations/#!/Oct-31-8-p-m-Virtual-Halloween-Party/p/244176792/category=1651948

As we are in October’s  “Mourning Month,” today’s Tredwell Times in Art, features a lithograph of a family in mourning c...
10/26/2020

As we are in October’s “Mourning Month,” today’s Tredwell Times in Art, features a lithograph of a family in mourning ca. 1840 by Nathaniel Currier (1813-1888). This image of remembrance commemorates the death of Sarah Jane, who died on May 11, 1838. Her parents and sister mourn at her grave. Mourning prints such as this were ubiquitous in the 19th century. As the infant mortality rate was so high, they often honored a deceased child. The iconography included weeping willow trees in a lush garden, urns engraved with dates of death and comforting Bible verse, and grief-stricken relatives in mourning attire. Mourning images were depicted in works of art, embroidery and other needlework, and mourning jewelry. They replaced the macabre images depicted in Memento Mori of earlier centuries, which focused on reminders of one’s mortality, and were frequently displayed in the home. Nathaniel Currier (1813-1888), established his lithography business in New York City In 1835, and in 1850 he was joined by James Ives. The pair went on to achieve enormous success in the field. #merchantshousemuseum #nathanielcurrier #currierandives #nineteenthcenturyart #lithograph #mourningimages #mourningattire #tredwellfamily #arthistory #mourningcustoms

10/23/2020
Reading #4: "Lost in a Pyramid or The Mummy's Curse" (1869) by Louisa May Alcott

American Gothic: Spine-tingling Tales to Raise Your Spirits is a Facebook Live four-part storytelling series of 19th-century American Gothic literature read by actor Dayle Vander Sande in the authentic period parlor of the Merchant's House Museum. Authors Washington Irving, Nathanial Hawthorne, Mark Twain and Louisa May Alcott make your blood run cold with scenes of terror and woe. Dayle is a longtime museum volunteer and Director of the Bond Street Euterpean Singing Society, the vocal arts group-in-residence at the Merchant's House.

Each Facebook Live event contains Part I of each story. For Part II, visit merchantshouse.org/calendar

Previous stories in the series:
Thursday, October 1, 7:30 p.m.: "The Devil and Tom Walker" from Tales of a Traveller (1824) by Washington Irving
Sunday, October 11, 5 p.m.: "The White Old Maid" from Twice-Told Tales (1837) by Nathanial Hawthorne
Sunday, October 18, 7:00 p.m.: "A Ghost Story" (1870) by Mark Twain

*Each LIVE event will be 20 minutes long, reading the opening of each story. A link will then be provided to hear the pre-recorded conclusion.

During the six months the Museum was closed due to COVID-19 and the house was empty (or was it?), paranormal investigato...
10/23/2020

During the six months the Museum was closed due to COVID-19 and the house was empty (or was it?), paranormal investigator Dan Sturges, along with scientist Dr. Lee, conducted extensive paranormal research using specialized equipment custom-built for the house.

You're invited into the dark shadows of history – virtually, from the safety of your home – to hear true stories of the strange and chilling happenings over the Museum’s eight decades, and the startling results of Dan and Dr. Lee's recent investigations.

𝗟𝗶𝗻𝗴𝗲𝗿𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗦𝗵𝗮𝗱𝗼𝘄𝘀: 𝗦𝗽𝗶𝗿𝗶𝘁𝘀 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗠𝗲𝗿𝗰𝗵𝗮𝗻𝘁'𝘀 𝗛𝗼𝘂𝘀𝗲, 𝗣𝗮𝘀𝘁 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗣𝗿𝗲𝘀𝗲𝗻𝘁 starts TONIGHT at 6 p.m.! Tickets at www.merchantshouse.org/calendar/reservations

Can't join us tonight? This virtual presentation is also offered next Thursday and Friday evenings!

Today we begin the series, The Tredwell Times in Art, which will explore depictions of 19th Century life as it was most ...
10/23/2020

Today we begin the series, The Tredwell Times in Art, which will explore depictions of 19th Century life as it was most likely lived and experienced by the Tredwell family. As October is our “Mourning Month,” here we have Inconsolable Grief (1884), by Russian artist Iván Kramskoï (1837-1887). Like Mrs. Tredwell would have appeared after the death of her husband Seabury in 1865, the woman depicted in the lush interior is dressed in full mourning attire. In this case, however, she is mourning the loss of her child. Visible on the table among the floral arrangements is a glimpse of the white burial dress of her child. All of Mrs. Tredwell’s children lived to adulthood; her two eldest daughters predeceased her, however. So she did share the mother’s grief. #tredwellfamily #arthistory #merchantshousemuseum #tredwelltimesinart #deathandmourning #ivankramskoi #inconsolablegrief #nineteenthcenturymourningcustoms

10/22/2020
GMA3: What You Need To Know

Did you see the Merchant's House and paranormal investigator Dan Sturges on GMA3 today?

To discover more about our resident ghosts, including startling new evidence uncovered while the museum was closed due to COVID-19, join us for "Lingering in the Shadows." This virtual paranormal presentation starts TOMORROW, October 23 -- don't miss it!

Tickets at www.merchantshouse.org/calendar/reservations.

Fancy a visit with a few spooky spirits? 👻 NYC’s Merchant's House Museum may be just the place for you. Will Reeve investigates claims of paranormal activity in the ancient building. #GMA3 #WYNTK

10/20/2020

The next in our series of Behind-the-Ropes Virtual Tours, 𝗖𝗵𝗮𝗻𝗴𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗧𝗮𝘀𝘁𝗲𝘀 𝗶𝗻 𝟭𝟵𝘁𝗵 𝗖𝗲𝗻𝘁𝘂𝗿𝘆 𝗙𝘂𝗿𝗻𝗶𝘁𝘂𝗿𝗲 (𝟭𝟴𝟬𝟬-𝟭𝟴𝟲𝟬) offers a close look at the Tredwell family furniture collection, examining pieces bought for this house, as well as those brought from their previous home. You’ll learn about both the tastes and values of mid-19th century New Yorkers and how growing international connections made lasting impact on design, trade, and international relations.

Join MHM Board Member Anthony Bellov and special guest Carswell Rush Berlin for an extraordinary up-close and personal experience of the Tredwell home you won’t want to miss – behind the ropes and no stairs to climb!

Tickets at http://merchantshouse.org/calendar/reservations/#!/Nov-4-6-p-m-Behind-the-Ropes-Virtual-Furniture-Tour/p/231303525/category=1651948

10/18/2020
American Gothic #3 - A Ghost Story by Mark Twain [plus The Bells by Edgar Allen Poe]

American Gothic - Spine-tingling Tales to Raise Your Spirits
A four-part series of American gothic short stories of the 19th Century read by Dayle Vander Sande, longtime museum volunteer and director of the Bond Street Euterpean Singing Society, the vocal arts group-in-residence at the Merchant's House.

This video contains Part One of the story. For Part Two, visit merchantshouse.org/calendar.

Is the Merchant’s House – “Manhattan’s Most Haunted House,” according to The New York Times – really haunted? Come hear ...
10/17/2020

Is the Merchant’s House – “Manhattan’s Most Haunted House,” according to The New York Times – really haunted? Come hear the evidence and decide for yourself.

We're unable to present our in-person Candlelight Ghost Tours this year, but hope you'll join us for 𝗟𝗶𝗻𝗴𝗲𝗿𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗦𝗵𝗮𝗱𝗼𝘄𝘀: 𝗦𝗽𝗶𝗿𝗶𝘁𝘀 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗠𝗲𝗿𝗰𝗵𝗮𝗻𝘁’𝘀 𝗛𝗼𝘂𝘀𝗲, 𝗣𝗮𝘀𝘁 & 𝗣𝗿𝗲𝘀𝗲𝗻𝘁, starting next Friday, October 24! Tickets at www.merchantshouse.org/calendar/reservations

Venture into the dark and ghostly shadows of history – virtually – to hear true stories of the strange and chilling happenings over the Museum’s eight decades.

We'll discuss the methods and findings of past paranormal investigations, and share the startling results of current research conducted during the six months the museum was closed due to COVID-19. The house was empty – or was it?

Photo by Hal Hirshorn.

Good mornin.’ I’ll be sayin’ farewell at you this mornin.’ Packin’ up. Got a new position. I ran into my friend Ann and ...
10/16/2020

Good mornin.’ I’ll be sayin’ farewell at you this mornin.’ Packin’ up. Got a new position. I ran into my friend Ann and she let me in on the craic (gossip) that Widow Schermerhorn over at 36 Bond Street was lookin’ for a new girl, and I’m hightailin’ it over there. Hardly none o’ her children are there - they’re mostly married now - so the work will be easier and the pay better. She’s rich - Mr. S. had a big shipping company and left her with millions. I told Mrs. T. I was goin’. She looked annoyed but then ran off to tell Miss Phebe to go to the Intelligence Office to find another girl. That’s how much I matter to them; they just need another body to do all the work. Doesn’t matter who. The cheek of it! Well, I’ll be lookin after meself, ain’t no one else to do it. And I want a good future, sure. And I’m smart and have my wits about me. I’ll miss Miss Gertrude, but in this job ya can’t be gettin’ attached to no one. So, wish me luck. And I hope ya’ learned somethin’ about what it’s like to be new in this country with nothin’ but your own hands to earn a livin’, and bein’ dependin’ on people like yer self for a bit o’ kindness. Gotta be gettin’ on now, can’t keep Mrs. S. waiting! Slainte! #merchantshhousemuseum #bridgetmurphy #nineteenthcenturylife #domesticservice #irishservants #tredwellfamily #irishhistory

Mornin.’ It’s Bridget M. Just saw Miss Gertrude out the door to go to school. Ain’t she a pretty one? Spoiled, bein’ the...
10/14/2020

Mornin.’ It’s Bridget M. Just saw Miss Gertrude out the door to go to school. Ain’t she a pretty one? Spoiled, bein’ the youngest, but that’s no surprise, I’ll grant ya. She’s 15 years old, only child born in this house. She goes to the fancy Mrs. Gibson’s School, on Union Place, where she’ll be gettin’ her “finishin’,” as they say. What good will all that do her, I ask ya? Where’s piano playin’ and drawin’ and speakin’ French goin’ to get ya, if ya’ don’t know how to clean the grate or cook a meal? I can’t see that it helped her older sisters find a husband, (well, except for her two oldest). I’m predicting she’ll find a nice young man, but he’d better be pleasin’ to Mr. T., I mean Episcopalian like he is, and earnin’ good money, otherwise he’ll be out the door! Most men ain’t good enough to suit Mr. T.; them four unmarried sisters that are left will be keepin’ house here for years, sure. What a waste! [Note from Ann Haddad: Gertrude Tredwell (1840-1933), never married, and died in the house at the age of 92. It was Gertrude’s longevity, and her desire to keep the house exactly as her family loved it, that allows us to have the Merchant’s House Museum today. She did have a suitor, and that’s a story for another day]. #merchantshousemuseum #gertrudetredwell #bridgetmurphy #finishingschool #nineteenthcenturylife #nychistory #irishhistory #domesticservitude #irishservants #mrsgibsonsschool

Address

29 E 4th St
New York, NY
10003

Subway: 6 to Astor Place, N or R to Broadway/8th, F or B to Lafayette Bus: M5 or M6 to Broadway/4th, M102 to 4th, M1 to Brdwy/8th

General information

HOURS: Thurs-Mon, 12-5pm (closed Tuesday & Wednesday) GUIDED TOUR 2pm Thurs-Mon SELF-GUIDED TOUR booklet available RESERVATIONS not required for groups of less than 10. ADMISSION: $15 General, $10 Students & Seniors, FREE Members and Children under 12. GROUP TOURS: http://merchantshouse.org/visit PROGRAMS & SPECIAL EVENTS: http://merchantshouse.org/calendar

Opening Hours

Saturday 12:30 - 17:00
Sunday 12:30 - 17:00

Telephone

(212) 777-1089

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“The real thing”

www.merchantshouse.org Built in 1832, the Merchant's House Museum is New York City's only 19th century home preserved intact, with original family furnishings and personal belongings. A unique survivor of Old New York, the House offers a rare and intimate glimpse of how a prosperous merchant family and their four Irish servants lived from 1835 to 1865, when New York grew from seaport to thriving metropolis and the commercial emporium of America. "The distinction of the Merchant's House -- and it is a powerful one -- is that it is the real thing. One simply walks through the beautiful doorway into another time and place in New York." The New York Times