Merchant's House Museum

Merchant's House Museum Life at Home in Mid-19th Century New York City
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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. "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

The magnitude of this moment in history cannot be overstated. Systemic racism and injustice is an insidious cultural dis...
06/08/2020

The magnitude of this moment in history cannot be overstated. Systemic racism and injustice is an insidious cultural disease that has plagued our country for hundreds of years. We stand with the peaceful protesters in our city, nation, and around the world in expressing outrage and demanding social change.
#blacklivesmatter
Photo: Untitled, Gordon Parks, 1963.

“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” Frederick Douglass, 1857.  ....We posted our ...
06/01/2020

“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” Frederick Douglass, 1857.
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We posted our usual content this morning in a moment of thoughtlessness, for which we apologize. The Merchant’s House stands in solidarity with our local community and with protesters across the country fighting against racism and police brutality. #blacklivesmatter

Good morning, dear friends. Only our transition from mere acquaintance into a deepening friendship permits me to welcome...
06/01/2020

Good morning, dear friends. Only our transition from mere acquaintance into a deepening friendship permits me to welcome you into my bedroom. This is a very personal space, being my refuge as a place to pray, write letters, (at my writing desk near the window), read, and bathe. There is much to show you here; I will begin by pointing out my solid mahogany four poster bed, purchased when we moved here in 1835. It is quite stunning, and is deeply sentimental to me, as it is where my youngest daughter Gertrude was born in 1840. Also, three of my grandchildren, Elizabeth’s and Mary’s children, were born in this bed between 1849 and 1854! And a tear of joy comes to my eye and happy memories of my wedding day in June of 1820 are recalled whenever I gaze upon my lovely wedding dress of white linen and cotton. As is customary, Mr. Tredwell’s bedroom adjoins my own. What with eight children, four servants, and my sister Ellen living with us, I do relish my time alone here! Even if it just to undue my stays and catch my breath for a few moments, my dears! (Note from Ann Haddad: the bed hangings and window treatments are not original). #merchantshousemuseum #iamelizatredwell #virtualtour #virtualmerchantshouse #nineteenthcenturylife #tredwellfamily #nineteenthcenturybedroom #nineteenthcenturybed #separatebedrooms #nineteenthcenturyweddingdress #elizatredwell

Good morning, friends! It is Mrs. Tredwell; I do hope you are well and ready to continue our tour of my home. We have le...
05/29/2020

Good morning, friends! It is Mrs. Tredwell; I do hope you are well and ready to continue our tour of my home. We have left the garden and basement floor and are now back on the parlor floor. Before proceeding to my bedroom upstairs on the second floor, please take a moment to notice our outstanding newel post. Made of solid mahogany and hand-carved, this luxurious post depicts the Greek Revival motif of the acanthus leaf. This is such an elaborate piece, that it is practically furniture! This grand statement of our wealth, taste, and sophistication is immediately visible to guests when they enter our home. Notice also the charmingly decorated steps and the mahogany balusters. Did you know that one of them is made of iron to support the staircase? It feels much colder than the other spindles. As we proceed up the stairs, notice the window at the top where the staircase doubles back on itself en route to the bedroom floor. This window brings much-needed light to the staircase. Such a clever design, don’t you agree? #merchantshousemuseum #museumsfromhome #virtualtour #nineteenthcenturylife #newelpost #mahogany #carvednewelpost #nineteenthcenturydecor #iamelizatredwell #mahoganystaircase #tredwellfamily #nychistory #newyorkhistory #antebellumarchitecture

What a lovely morning to be celebrating two happy days in our family, dear ones! Today, May 27, 1855, is the 7th wedding...
05/27/2020

What a lovely morning to be celebrating two happy days in our family, dear ones! Today, May 27, 1855, is the 7th wedding anniversary of my beloved second daughter, Mary Adelaide. I’ll never forget the day in 1848 when Mary, then 22 years old, wed Charles John Richards in our front parlor. Quite a handsome gentleman! A hardware merchant like Mr. Tredwell from a well-respected Philadelphia family (his maternal grandfather, Hilary Baker II, was a Mayor of Philadelphia), he made an excellent match with our Mary. They have blessed us with three grandchildren, Adelaide, John (whom we call Tred), and Effie. After living with us for four years, they moved to their own home on East 27th Street, which is now quite the best neighborhood. I do miss them every day! And today we also celebrate the 20th birthday of my daughter Sarah Kissam. Sarah is shy of photographs; she is rather headstrong and there is no persuading her to sit for one! I do fret about her, I must say. Those of you who are parents surely understand me. (Note from Ann Haddad: The Richards Family eventually moved to Elizabeth, New Jersey. Mrs. Tredwell bore the grief of Mary’s death at age 49 in 1874; she was the first Tredwell child to pass away. Sarah was injured in a carriage accident in 1872, which left her unable to walk. An elevator was installed in the house for her, which was removed when the house became a museum. Sarah moved out of the house to receive movement therapy after Mrs. Tredwell’s death in 1882. She never returned, and died at her apartment in the Cadillac Hotel, a residential hotel in Times Square, in 1906). Pictured are Mary Tredwell Richards (1825-1874), Charles John Richards (1814-1900), and Charles with their grandson Charles R. Van Nostrand (1890-1956) #merchantshousemuseum #museumsfromhome #tredwellfamily #iamelizatredwell #marytredwellrichards #sarahkissamtredwell #nychistory #newyorkhistory #antebellumnewyork #swedishmovementcure

Good Monday morning, dear ones! It is Mrs. Tredwell, delighted to be welcoming you to my garden. Although, I must say it...
05/25/2020

Good Monday morning, dear ones! It is Mrs. Tredwell, delighted to be welcoming you to my garden. Although, I must say it doesn’t look like my garden at all. (My friend Ann Haddad @annelaineterese informs me that this lovely garden was planted twenty years ago by the Museum’s Master Gardener, John Rommel). My garden is all grass, a utilitarian space used by the servants to dry laundry. I only recognize the bluestone path around the perimeter. Our privy is in the right rear corner, right by the back wall. There is a gate here, which opens to the alley just behind, and Stable Court. This is how some tradesmen make deliveries to our house, and how the Night Soil man comes with his cart to empty the privy (which he does not do nearly often enough). What with the odors emanating from the stables and the privy, it is not a place where one enjoys spending one’s time. We enclosed our piazza shortly after we moved here, so that we need not smell the foul air, and to diminish the noise coming from Vauxhall Garden, which regrettably now caters primarily to the lower classes. And here is the domed lid of the cistern that I mentioned earlier, which supplies rainwater to our kitchen. All the modern conveniences, my dears! #merchantshousemuseum #virtualmerchantshouse #virtualtours #museumsfromhome #nineteenthcenturylife #iamelizatredwell #tredwellfamily #historichouses #gardens #nychistory #newyorkhistory #newyorkgardens #privy #cisterns #stablecourt

Do forgive me, my dears, but I neglected to include the photograph of all the lighting equipment in my kitchen! #merchan...
05/22/2020

Do forgive me, my dears, but I neglected to include the photograph of all the lighting equipment in my kitchen! #merchantshousemuseum #museumsfromhome #virtualtour #nineteenthcenturylighting #iamelizatredwell

Good morning, friends! Today we conclude our tour of the kitchen. I see that my parlor maid has begun filling the coal b...
05/22/2020

Good morning, friends! Today we conclude our tour of the kitchen. I see that my parlor maid has begun filling the coal bucket from the bin in the cellar, to light our fires. This is a most important task, my dears, because our coal-burning fireplaces are our only sources of heat, and Mr. Tredwell insists that the temperature of our home be comfortable. The parlor maid, assisted by the fourth girl, must fill the coal scuttles and light the fires at all seven fireplaces in the house. On cold days, when it is essential that the fires be kept going, she must refill the scuttles one or two more times. To accomplish this difficult and I must say dirty task, she must climb 82 steps, from the cellar to the servants’ floor at the very top. My girls must be healthy and hearty! As you see, the parlor maid has also brought down several of our oil lamps that were used last evening. Good, clean, ample lighting is necessary to brighten our dark rooms. The servant will clean the glass chimneys, trim the wicks, refill the oil reservoirs, and put fresh candles in the candlesticks. I insist that all my brass lamps be well polished; having them shine enhances the light in the room! When my family awakens and requires hot water for washing, we press the lever on the sides of our fireplaces to summon a servant. The brass call bells will then ring in the kitchen; each bell has a different tone, to indicate in which room assistance is needed. This is very good for those poor servants who are illiterate: they need only memorize the bell sound that goes with each room! #merchantshousemuseum #museumsfromhome #virtualtour #iamelizatredwell #nineteenthcenturykitchen #nineteenthcenturyheating #nineteenthcenturylighting #servantcallbell #nychistory #newyorkhistory #virtualmerchantshouse #coalburningfireplace #fireplace #coalbucket

Have you seen our newest Virtual Exhibition?www.merchantshouse.org/virtual-exhibitions/iadThe Index of American Design (...
05/21/2020

Have you seen our newest Virtual Exhibition?

www.merchantshouse.org/virtual-exhibitions/iad

The Index of American Design (IAD) was a New Deal arts undertaking conceived during the Great Depression to identify and document the country’s design heritage, i.e., what was distinctly “American” in the decorative, folk, and applied arts. Comprising more than 18,000 illustrations of objects from a wide variety of public and private collections, the IAD is a stunning and invaluable visual archive of American material culture from the colonial period to the early 20th century.

The Index of American Design, now housed at the National Gallery of Art, contains 18 illustrations of 15 objects in the Merchant’s House Museum’s collection: 3 pieces of furniture, 7 dresses, 3 clothing accessories, and 2 men’s garments. In our newest virtual exhibition, you're invited to explore the Merchant's House collection through the eyes of IAD artists who visited the house in the late-1930s.

Good morning, friends. What a lovely day. I am once again in the kitchen continuing our tour. I always avoid the kitchen...
05/20/2020

Good morning, friends. What a lovely day. I am once again in the kitchen continuing our tour. I always avoid the kitchen on Tuesdays as much as possible because that is Cook’s second laundry day, and she and her girl are much too occupied with their work. Most of our laundry is done at home, (bed and table linens usually go out to a washerwoman), at our large soapstone utility sink between the windows. When we searched for a new home in 1835, Mr. Tredwell insisted that it have “running” water. We were blessed to find this house, (advertised as having “all the latest modern conveniences”), which has a 4,000 gallon cistern in the backyard, keeping us well-supplied with rain water for household tasks. The cistern feeds the water through lead pipes which come up to a kitchen pump. (Note from Ann Haddad: the pump is no longer in the kitchen). Laundry is a difficult and time-consuming task done over two days; it involves much soaking, scrubbing, and wringing, followed by hanging the clothes to dry and ironing. I will allow Cook to tell you about the process at a later date. Of course, we do not use this water for cooking and drinking. That would endanger our health. We buy clean water from upstate, which is delivered in large wooden barrels. We can afford such luxury, my dears. The zinc-lined sink against the wall has a softer interior, which prevents our fine china and glassware from breaking should it be dropped while being washed. And my old worktable has proved invaluable over the years; so much rolling out dough and chopping vegetables on it! With regard to the rodent on the floor, I admit that it is an unfortunate problem, even in our elite neighborhood. #merchantshousemuseum #virtualmerchantshouse #virtualtour #museumsfromhome #laundryday #nineteenthcenturylife #cisterns #watersupply #cleanwater #iamelizatredwell #nineteenthcenturywatersupply #tredwellfamily #oldhouses #historichouses #nychistory #newyorkhistory #soapstonesink #zincsinks

Good morning! Mrs. Tredwell here, dear ones, continuing our tour of my kitchen. It being Monday, and with Cook and her g...
05/18/2020

Good morning! Mrs. Tredwell here, dear ones, continuing our tour of my kitchen. It being Monday, and with Cook and her girl busy doing the laundry, allow me to show you the very latest in kitchen technology, our cast-iron coal-burning stove. This is an instrument that certainly no house mistress can do without. At my home on Dey Street, and for some years after moving here, cooking was done over the open hearth. My menus were quite simple back then: soups, stews, and roasts. As my friends acquired coal-burning cook stoves and boasted of their abilities, I insisted that Mr. Tredwell purchase one. And now that I have this tool, I (or rather Cook), can prepare a much greater variety of dishes, and simultaneously! Two ovens, and all these top burners. Also, Cook can better regulate the heat under the pans. The stove poses less danger for her, I might add, as there are no sparks flying about that would cause fires. Having a waist-high cook top helps to avoid straining one’s back while cooking. An absolutely essential tool for my elaborate dinner parties, in that it allows me to serve a wide variety of lovely meals to my guests. I have been reading many of the new French cookbooks, my dears. Of course, instructing Cook in these methods is difficult; I am not hard on her, however, as she must clean the stove daily and blacken it weekly to avoid rusting. A very unpleasant task...(Note from @annelaineterese , Museum Historian: This Abendroth stove is not original to the house; it was acquired when the house underwent major restoration in the 1970’s). #merchantshousemuseum #museumsfromhome #virtualtours #virtualmerchantshouse #castironcookstove #nineteenthcenturykitchens #nineteenthcenturycooking #nineteenthcenturylife #coalburning #nychistory #newyorkhistory #iamelizatredwell #tredwellfamily #servants #irishservants

Good morning, friends! I am very cheerful today as it is the birthday of my 6th beloved child Julia Eliza Tredwell. Born...
05/16/2020

Good morning, friends! I am very cheerful today as it is the birthday of my 6th beloved child Julia Eliza Tredwell. Born May 16, 1833 at our home on Dey Street, and named after my dear younger sister, Julia was always a fragile child, and even as a young woman, good heath seems to evade her. We recently sent her to the popular spa town of Richfield Springs, New York, to take the waters, and the treatment she received there appeared to be restorative. She wrote to me, “I have felt very much better the past week they all say I have gained...I took a bath and felt stronger as soon as I came out.” Isn’t she lovely? The second photograph is of Julia dressed as the Biblical Ruth for one of our parlor theatricals. A very popular pastime nowadays, my dears. I do love this image as it shows Julia’s luxuriant hair. All of my daughters take very good care of their tresses, brushing it out every evening to distribute the oils. A good washing every month or so is all that is needed. A woman would never appear in public with her hair undone; it is of course only permitted for theatricals or tableaux. #merchantshousemuseum #tredwellfamily #juliatredwell #iamelizatredwell #nineteenthcenturylife #familylife #nychistory #newyorkhistory #museumsfromhome #historichousemuseum #parlortheatricals #tableaux #nineteenthcenturyhygiene

Aren’t we all thrilled that today is Friday, my dears? I certainly am, after spending a great part of yesterday supervis...
05/15/2020

Aren’t we all thrilled that today is Friday, my dears? I certainly am, after spending a great part of yesterday supervising Cook as she baked the many loaves of bread, as well as pies, tarts, and scones for my family. And thank goodness we have a very good wooden pie safe to store it all! Once the baked goods are cool, they are placed in this cabinet; the hole-punched tin lining provides air circulation to maintain freshness. It’s real purpose, however, is to keep the food safe from pesky bugs, ants, and rodents. (I shudder to discuss such an unpleasant topic, but is there any kitchen in New York City that does NOT have this problem?) Please look closely at the lower legs of the safe: they are discolored. That is because each leg usually sits in a dish of water, which has been treated with herbs or oils known to kill pests. Catnip, poke root, and rosemary are very good. What do you recommend? I always keep my pie safe locked and hang the key on my chatelaine. My family does enjoy their sweets, perhaps a bit too much, I’m afraid. And so do some of my servants! #merchantshousemuseum #virtualtour #pestcontrol #virtualmerchantshouse #piesafe #nineteenthcenturykitchen #bakingday #iamelizatredwell #nychistory #newyorkhistory #tredwellfamily #museumsfromhome

The Tredwells are running amok, per usual.
05/15/2020
Quarantining With a Ghost? It’s Scary

The Tredwells are running amok, per usual.

For those who believe they’re locked down with spectral roommates, the pandemic has been less isolating than they bargained for.

While the museum is closed, join us "at home" – virtually, with exhibitions, talks, tours, videos, books to read, and mo...
05/15/2020

While the museum is closed, join us "at home" – virtually, with exhibitions, talks, tours, videos, books to read, and more. All online, at a social distance.

www.merchantshouse.org/online-programs

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

Monday 12:00 - 17:00
Thursday 12:00 - 20:00
Friday 12:00 - 17:00
Saturday 12:00 - 17:00
Sunday 12:00 - 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

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