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Merchant's House Museum

Merchant's House Museum Life at Home in Mid-19th Century New York City "The distinction of the Merchant's House -- and it is a powerful one -- is that it is 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 m

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 m

Operating as usual

Many of us are cheering the New Year this evening with a glass of champagne, but 19th century New Yorkers were looking f...
12/31/2022

Many of us are cheering the New Year this evening with a glass of champagne, but 19th century New Yorkers were looking forward a liberally-spiked bowl of punch at tomorrow's New Year's Day reception.

According to one 1869 description, "This mysterious beverage is a New York institution ... Lemons, rum, cordials, honey, and mysterious mixtures, from mysterious bottles brought by the compounder, enter into this drink. So delicious is it, that for a man to be drunk on New Year's day from punch is not considered any disgrace.”

'The Secrets of the Great City' (1868) adds that on January 2, "one-half of New York is sick. Doctors are in demand. Headaches and various other ailments caused by punch are frequent."

Join us TOMORROW at 3 p.m. as we go back in time to the mid-19th century to meet the Tredwells and hear about their New Year’s Day celebrations. We look forward to continuing the 19th century tradition of renewing, reviving, and reaffirming friendships that last the whole year through. Register at https://merchantshouse.org/calendar/reservations/#!/January-1-3-p-m-New-Years-Day-Celebration/p/508471346/category=1651948

Pictured: "Still Life with Champagne and Oysters," by Johann Wilhelm Preyer, 1857.

New Yorkers began preparations for their New Year’s Day receptions far in advance. They cleaned their houses from top to...
12/29/2022

New Yorkers began preparations for their New Year’s Day receptions far in advance. They cleaned their houses from top to bottom, sometimes even refurnishing them; stocked their pantries with holiday fare; and bought or made new clothes.

Hyacinths were very popular during the 19th century; in 1872, one supplier listed over 30 varieties of blue hyacinths. Although the flowers naturally bloom in early spring, it became fashionable to force the flowers to blossom early. According to Godey's Lady's Book in 1855, "Many ladies in New York City make it a point to have their hyacinths in blossom on New Year’s Day."

Join the Tredwells on January 1 for a virtual celebration as they ring in the New Year! Register at https://merchantshouse.org/calendar/reservations/#!/January-1-3-p-m-Virtual-New-Years-Day-Celebration/p/508471346/category=1651948

[Photo by Lynn Byrne]

Even as Christmas gained in popularity in the mid-19th century, New Year’s Day continued to be an important celebration ...
12/27/2022

Even as Christmas gained in popularity in the mid-19th century, New Year’s Day continued to be an important celebration in New York. Gentlemen went from house to house, paying calls on friends and neighbors, while ladies stayed at home to receive visitors and preside over the punch bowl and lavish buffet.

As soon as Christmas dinner was over, preparation for the New Year’s Day reception began. The buffet table set up in the rear parlor needed to be constantly replenished with delicacies from the kitchen: pastry, breads, fruits, cakes, and cookies.

It was common for fashionable families, like the Tredwells, to receive more than a hundred callers. Ten-year-old Catherine Havens, who lived a few blocks away on Fifth Avenue and Eight Street wrote in her diary:

"January 2, 1850
Yesterday was New Year’s Day, and I had lovely presents. We had 139 callers, and I have an ivory tablet and I write all their names down in it. We have to be dressed and ready by ten o’clock to receive. Some of the gentlemen come together and don’t stay more than a minute; but some go into the back room and take some oysters and coffee and cake, and stay and talk."

Join us on New Year's Day for a virtual celebration! Register at https://merchantshouse.org/calendar/reservations/#!/January-1-3-p-m-New-Years-Day-Celebration/p/508471346/category=1651948

From all of us here at the Merchant's House, wishing you a safe, joyful, and very Merry Christmas! 🎄
12/25/2022

From all of us here at the Merchant's House, wishing you a safe, joyful, and very Merry Christmas! 🎄

𝘏𝘦 𝘴𝘱𝘳𝘢𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘰 𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘴𝘭𝘦𝘪𝘨𝘩, 𝘵𝘰 𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘵𝘦𝘢𝘮 𝘨𝘢𝘷𝘦 𝘢 𝘸𝘩𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘭𝘦,𝘈𝘯𝘥 𝘢𝘸𝘢𝘺 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘺 𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘧𝘭𝘦𝘸 𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘥𝘰𝘸𝘯 𝘰𝘧 𝘢 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘭𝘦;𝘉𝘶𝘵 𝘐 𝘩𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘥 𝘩𝘪𝘮 𝘦𝘹...
12/24/2022

𝘏𝘦 𝘴𝘱𝘳𝘢𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘰 𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘴𝘭𝘦𝘪𝘨𝘩, 𝘵𝘰 𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘵𝘦𝘢𝘮 𝘨𝘢𝘷𝘦 𝘢 𝘸𝘩𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘭𝘦,
𝘈𝘯𝘥 𝘢𝘸𝘢𝘺 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘺 𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘧𝘭𝘦𝘸 𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘥𝘰𝘸𝘯 𝘰𝘧 𝘢 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘭𝘦;
𝘉𝘶𝘵 𝘐 𝘩𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘥 𝘩𝘪𝘮 𝘦𝘹𝘤𝘭𝘢𝘪𝘮, 𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘩𝘦 𝘥𝘳𝘰𝘷𝘦 𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘰𝘧 𝘴𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵,
"𝘔𝘦𝘳𝘳𝘺 𝘊𝘩𝘳𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘮𝘢𝘴 𝘵𝘰 𝘢𝘭𝘭, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘢 𝘨𝘰𝘰𝘥 𝘯𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵!"

Clement Clarke Moore's beloved poem, "A Visit from St. Nicholas," was written in New York in 1823, and helped to establish St. Nicholas as an important part of Christmas celebrations. It was an instant hit, and, in 1851, when Saint Nick was better known as Santa Claus and children throughout the city eagerly awaited his Christmas Eve visit, the title was changed to "’Twas the Night before Christmas."

Pictured here, illustrations from an 1862 publication of "A Visit from St. Nicholas."

UPDATE! CLOSING EARLY TODAY! The Museum will close at 3:30 p.m. today, Friday, December 23, with last entry at 3 p.m.......
12/23/2022

UPDATE! CLOSING EARLY TODAY! The Museum will close at 3:30 p.m. today, Friday, December 23, with last entry at 3 p.m.

...

The Merchant's House will be CLOSED for tours this weekend (December 24 & 25) for Christmas, and also CLOSED next weekend (December 31 & January 1) for New Year's.

The Museum is OPEN next week on Thursday, December 29, and Friday, December 30.

On this, the first day of winter, a look back at the house during a snowstorm in February 2006. ❄️❄️❄️
12/21/2022

On this, the first day of winter, a look back at the house during a snowstorm in February 2006. ❄️❄️❄️

Happy Hanukkah!When the Tredwells lived on East 4th Street, New York was primarily a Christian city. The family was Epis...
12/18/2022

Happy Hanukkah!

When the Tredwells lived on East 4th Street, New York was primarily a Christian city. The family was Episcopal by faith and celebrated Christmas, which gained in popularity over the course of the 19th century and was declared a federal holiday in 1870. Until the late-19th century, Hanukkah was virtually unknown to most New Yorkers. By 1880, only 250,000 Jewish residents were living across the entire United States.

With the mass immigration of Eastern European Jews to New York in the late 19th century, the fabric of the city began to dramatically change and Hanukkah became more widespread. According to the Tenement Museum, “Passengers riding the elevated train through the Lower East Side on a December night in the 1890s would have seen hundreds of tiny candles illuminating the windows of tenement apartments inhabited by Eastern European Jews.” (See https://www.tenement.org/blog/hanukkah-as-american-as-epl-pie for more information!)

Would the Tredwells have seen the lights? We don't know, but no doubt they were magical. By the early 20th century, Hanukkah had become an important winter holiday in the city and throughout the country.

To celebrate the first night of Hanukkah, please enjoy "The History of Hanukkah: How It Reflected the Times in 19th-Century America," part of our "Warmth from the Hearth" video series on YouTube: https://youtu.be/PSISqzoilRk

[pictured: "Hanukkah celebration by the Young Men's Hebrew Association at the Academy of Music in New York City, 16 December 1880," Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper]

Preparations for holiday feasting began weeks in advance, and the star of the Christmas dinner was roast turkey. Wealthy...
12/16/2022

Preparations for holiday feasting began weeks in advance, and the star of the Christmas dinner was roast turkey. Wealthy families might supplement the bird with other roasts or seafood, but the turkey retained its place of honor as centerpiece through the end of the 19th century. In fact, the roast turkey was considered so important to the Christmas meal that competition might arise as families fought to secure one for their holiday table.

From "Mrs. Crowen's American Lady's Cookery Book" (1847): "To Arrange a Christmas Dinner: Let a roasted turkey of uncommon size occupy the middle or centre of one side of the table, on one end let there be a cold boiled ham, and at the other, fricasseed chicken or a roast pig."

Pictured: “The Christmas Hamper,” by Robert Braithwaite Martineau, ca. 1850.

Although many today bemoan the commercialism of Christmas, it's far from anything new. 19th century New Yorkers like the...
12/14/2022

Although many today bemoan the commercialism of Christmas, it's far from anything new. 19th century New Yorkers like the Tredwells were bombarded with newspaper advertisements aimed at holiday shoppers.

An ad for Macy's department store, published in the New York Times in December 1860, boasts that R.H. Macy had gone "way up to his neck" in assorted dolls, promising that the various gifts available (and their low prices) will "carry peace and happiness to every hearthstone."

The bottom of the advertisement notes that Macy's will be open "until 10 P.M. every evening until January 1, 1861."

Pictured: Macy's Christmas Window, 1884. Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper.

Holiday Shipping Deadline!If your loved one is hoping Santa brings a book from the Merchant's House, the last day to ord...
12/12/2022

Holiday Shipping Deadline!

If your loved one is hoping Santa brings a book from the Merchant's House, the last day to order for Christmas delivery is December 14!

Available from our gift shop, 𝗔𝗻 𝗢𝗹𝗱 𝗠𝗲𝗿𝗰𝗵𝗮𝗻𝘁’𝘀 𝗛𝗼𝘂𝘀𝗲: 𝗟𝗶𝗳𝗲 𝗮𝘁 𝗛𝗼𝗺𝗲 𝗶𝗻 𝗡𝗲𝘄 𝗬𝗼𝗿𝗸 𝗖𝗶𝘁𝘆, 𝟭𝟴𝟯𝟱-𝟭𝟴𝟲𝟱 and 𝗠𝗶𝗿𝗮𝗰𝗹𝗲 𝗼𝗻 𝗙𝗼𝘂𝗿𝘁𝗵 𝗦𝘁𝗿𝗲𝗲𝘁: 𝗦𝗮𝘃𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗮𝗻 𝗢𝗹𝗱 𝗠𝗲𝗿𝗰𝗵𝗮𝗻𝘁’𝘀 𝗛𝗼𝘂𝘀𝗲, both by Museum Historian Emeritus Mary Knapp, make perfect gifts for the history lover in your life.

All books ordered after December 14 will ship in early January, so make your list and check it twice for Christmas delivery!

Purchase online at https://merchantshouse.org/maryknapp/

Christmas trees were first brought to America by German immigrants in the early 1800s, but they didn’t become popular un...
12/11/2022

Christmas trees were first brought to America by German immigrants in the early 1800s, but they didn’t become popular until 'Godey’s Lady’s Book' published an illustration of Queen Victoria and her
German-born husband, Prince Albert, around their Christmas tree in December 1850.

The next year, Christmas trees were sold in New York City markets for the first time.

Now on display! This "fancy dress" costume from the Tredwell collection (1885-1890) is a favorite among museum staff and...
12/08/2022

Now on display! This "fancy dress" costume from the Tredwell collection (1885-1890) is a favorite among museum staff and volunteers, affectionately known as "the fairy dress."

In the late 19th century, “fancy dress” costume balls were grand social affairs and widely reported in the press. Guests dressed in very elaborate costumes, and historical themes were most popular. This dress is reminiscent of an 18th century sack-back – or 𝘴𝘢𝘤𝘲𝘶𝘦-𝘣𝘢𝘤𝘬 – gown, also known as a 𝘳𝘰𝘣𝘦 𝘢̀ 𝘭𝘢 𝘍𝘳𝘢𝘯𝘤̧𝘢𝘪𝘴𝘦. The style of dress was distinguished by its back; fabric was arranged in box pleats at the shoulders and fell to the floor in a small train. The large puffs at the top of the sleeves of this dress harken back to an even earlier time, the 16th century, enhancing the romance and nostalgia of a time gone by.

The charming printed fabric is covered with colorful images of flowers, fairies, butterflies, and dragonflies, further lending to a notion of fantasy. By the end of the 19th century, literature expressly written for children was extremely popular. The fabric in this dress is a fine example of “children’s fabric,” which contained images of popular children’s stories and fairy tales.

"𝗠𝗮𝗿𝗹𝗲𝘆 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝗱𝗲𝗮𝗱: 𝘁𝗼 𝗯𝗲𝗴𝗶𝗻 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵." So begins Charles Dickens' beloved story "A Christmas Carol." Published in 1843, it wa...
12/05/2022

"𝗠𝗮𝗿𝗹𝗲𝘆 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝗱𝗲𝗮𝗱: 𝘁𝗼 𝗯𝗲𝗴𝗶𝗻 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵."

So begins Charles Dickens' beloved story "A Christmas Carol." Published in 1843, it was an immediate success in both England and America, and New Yorkers eagerly molded their holiday traditions to mirror those described in the story.

For more Charles Dickens, tune into The Gilded Gentleman Podcast tomorrow for an interview with John Kevin Jones, star of A Christmas Carol At The Merchant's House! And on Wednesday afternoon, join Carl and Kevin live and in-person for an Afternoon Tea Talk at the Salmagundi Club! Check out The Gilded Gentleman for more information!

Built to appeal to wealthy merchants looking to live in the elite 'Bond Street area,' the Merchant's House features a nu...
12/02/2022

Built to appeal to wealthy merchants looking to live in the elite 'Bond Street area,' the Merchant's House features a number of exquisite architectural details, including this elaborate, hand-carved mahogany newel post on the parlor floor.

As the most public area of the house, the parlor floor boasts the finest architectural details, while the upstairs bedroom floor (a semi-public space seen less often by guests) features slightly less ornate versions, without sacrificing quality.

The private areas of the home, such as the downstairs family room, contain more modest ornamentation, while the servants' bedrooms and kitchen are nearly (but not entirely) devoid of architectural decoration.

It's Giving Tuesday!It has been a challenging several years for the Merchant's House, to say the least. The financial im...
11/29/2022

It's Giving Tuesday!

It has been a challenging several years for the Merchant's House, to say the least. The financial impact of the still-with-us pandemic has been disastrous, and 10 years of escalating engineering and legal fees to protect our landmark building from proposed development next door continue to drain the coffers.

Yet, despite it all, we persist, undaunted. Very simply, our work – caring for our original collections, preserving our 190-year-old building, and educating the public about life in 19th century New York – would not be possible without your support.

Give online at www.merchantshouse.org/support

And suddenly ... it's Christmas! We've decked the halls, and our special holiday exhibition, 'Christmas Comes to Old New...
11/25/2022

And suddenly ... it's Christmas! We've decked the halls, and our special holiday exhibition, 'Christmas Comes to Old New York,' opens TODAY!

Join the Tredwells in celebrating the season. The Merchant's House is open Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, with options for both guided and self-guided tours.

And don't miss the 10th anniversary of 'A Christmas Carol at the Merchant's House!' This strictly limited engagement runs through December 29. Tickets at www.merchantshouse.org/christmascarol

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at the Merchant's House! The Museum is closed today, but will be open tomorrow, Friday...
11/24/2022

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at the Merchant's House! The Museum is closed today, but will be open tomorrow, Friday, November 25.

In 1830, Thanksgiving was declared an official holiday in New York State, the first state outside of New England to make the holiday official.

Sarah Josepha Hale, editor of the wildly popular 'Godey's Ladies Book,' became known as the "Godmother of Thanksgiving" for her decades-long crusade to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. Her efforts paid off in 1863, when President Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day, to be celebrated the final Thursday in November.

Pictured: "Thanksgiving Day – The Dinner," Harper's Weekly, 1858.

As we all prepare for Thankgiving tomorrow, a look at the Merchant's House kitchen, which has undergone a number of chan...
11/23/2022

As we all prepare for Thankgiving tomorrow, a look at the Merchant's House kitchen, which has undergone a number of changes over the years.

Today, the kitchen is interpreted as it would have looked in the 1850s, with a coal stove, light-colored paint on the brick hearth, a sink in the corner, and soapstone utility tubs between the windows, but this has not always been the case.

When the house first opened to the public as a museum in 1936 [photos 2 & 3], the museum's director wanted to show the house as he imagined it looked when it was first built, in 1832. He removed the Tredwells' 1850s coal stove to show the kitchen with an open hearth. He also removed the original sink and utility tubs, which he mistakenly believed were added later in the 19th century. (Additional research has shown the kitchen did have indoor plumbing in 1832, fed by a 4,000-gallon cistern under the rear garden.)

A restoration in the 1970s [photo 4] saw the reinstallation of an 1850s coal cookstove, as well as a sink fitted with a water pump. Subsequent research revealed that the Tredwells' sink was fitted with water taps, rather than a pump, and so the pump was removed during the most recent restoration, in 2013.

The final photograph shows the most recent kitchen restoration in-progress. The corner sink had been installed, but the soapstone utility tubs were still being fabricated. A 2011 paint analysis confirmed the light paint color on the brick hearth.

11/23/2022

Our friends and family night - aka final dress. Can’t wait to see you at the Merchant's House Museum

The Tredwells' dining table, in the rear parlor, could be expanded to seat up to 12 diners. The mahogany dining chairs a...
11/21/2022

The Tredwells' dining table, in the rear parlor, could be expanded to seat up to 12 diners. The mahogany dining chairs are from the workshop of Duncan Phyfe, and were purchased specifically for this house when the Tredwells moved in, in 1835.

Duncan Phyfe is perhaps the most important American furniture maker in the early 19th century, and these chairs were certainly a testament to the quality of the Tredwell family's taste in furniture – as well as the size of their budget.

In the painting "The Dinner Party" by Sir Thomas Cole, note the dining chairs – nearly identical to those in the Tredwell collection.

By the 1850s, food for wealthy New Yorkers like the Tredwells became less about sustenance and more about theater and en...
11/19/2022

By the 1850s, food for wealthy New Yorkers like the Tredwells became less about sustenance and more about theater and entertainment. Elaborate dinner parties were important social events, and French food became extremely popular.

To adapt to this new trend for elaborate entertaining, the Tredwells installed a coal cookstove. With eight burners and several ovens, the stove enabled the cook to make many different dishes at different temperatures all at the same time with much greater ease.

However, there was a steep learning curve to stoves like this. The temperature was controlled with dampers – how much air the cook allowed in impacted the oxygen levels and thus the strength of the fire. But there were no thermostats, so it was difficult to tell when the right temperature had been reached, and it was easy for the fire to accidentally go out.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL at the Merchant's House to Stream On Demand
11/19/2022
A CHRISTMAS CAROL at the Merchant's House to Stream On Demand

A CHRISTMAS CAROL at the Merchant's House to Stream On Demand

This December, as Summoners Ensemble Theatre’s A CHRISTMAS CAROL AT THE MERCHANT’S HOUSE resumes long-anticipated live performances for its 10th holiday season, they will once again offer performances virtually!

Thanksgiving is one week away! To celebrate, over the next week we'll be featuring a number of objects in the Tredwell c...
11/18/2022

Thanksgiving is one week away! To celebrate, over the next week we'll be featuring a number of objects in the Tredwell collection that relate to food and entertaining.

The sideboard, like this impressive mahogany one in the Tredwells' rear parlor, was a ubiquitous piece of furniture in the parlor of the urban rowhouse.

It provided a display area for the family's cut glass and crystal, and of course storage space for flatware and linens. The lower central compartment housed wine and liquor bottles. A small sliding shelf on the right could be used to hold a candle or a small lamp.

During the 1850s, formal dinner parties became a fashionable way to entertain. During the formal dinner party, the sideboard's function was to hold clean plates, flatware, and crystal that were going to be needed during the dinner service, and to provide a surface for wine, water, and dishes waiting to be served.

Today, bedrooms are private areas of the home reserved primarily for sleeping, but in the 19th century, they served a va...
11/15/2022

Today, bedrooms are private areas of the home reserved primarily for sleeping, but in the 19th century, they served a variety of functions. During a party, bedrooms served as dressing rooms for the guests.

Here in Eliza Tredwell's bedroom, female guests put their coats, shawls, and bonnets on the mahogany four poster bed. (Something many of us still do with guests' coats today!) Ladies changed into their party slippers and checked their appearance in front of the dresser mirrors – in fact, the Tredwells may have even rented additional mirrors for a party.

Address

29 E 4th Street
New York, NY
10003

Opening Hours

Monday 9am - 5pm
Thursday 12pm - 8pm
Friday 12pm - 5pm
Saturday 12pm - 5pm
Sunday 12pm - 5pm

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(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


Comments

Anti-Irish sentiment in the 19th century can be seen even in household manuals, which put great emphasis on cleanliness when discussing servants, suggesting Irish servants might be particularly prone to filth or vermin.

Many manuals encouraged employers to provide each servant with a bed made of iron (as a precaution against bed bugs), as well as to enforce certain standards of cleanliness and hygiene.

This view of a servant bedroom at the Merchant's House shows a basin and ewer, necessary for daily hygiene. A mirror, like the one shown here, would have been a luxury for the two women who shared this room.
Our first wedding of 2022 is just a couple of weeks away, and we can't wait! Our lush, 19th century garden is the perfect backdrop for an intimate ceremony. We're so excited to see our 2022 couples say "I do!"

Getting married this summer? Get in touch!

📷: Cinder & Co
In the 1970s, the Merchant’s House underwent a top-to-bottom interior restoration, which included the original 1832 plasterwork. Sculptor David Flaharty made repairs to areas of damaged plaster and, just as 19th century artisans had done, created molds of fragments to cast new pieces. Flaharty’s modern molds and plaster casts are now part of the museum’s collection.

Recently, David Flaharty contacted the Merchant's House to inform us he discovered four additional plaster molds in his workshop from the 1970s restoration. These newly discovered molds have been returned to the house, where they have been photographed, catalogued, and stored with the others in archival boxes.

Next month, come see our new special exhibition, "𝗙𝗶𝗻𝗲𝘀𝘁 𝗦𝘂𝗿𝘃𝗶𝘃𝗶𝗻𝗴:" 𝗢𝗿𝗻𝗮𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁𝗮𝗹 𝗣𝗹𝗮𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗿 𝗪𝗼𝗿𝗸 𝗮𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗠𝗲𝗿𝗰𝗵𝗮𝗻𝘁'𝘀 𝗛𝗼𝘂𝘀𝗲, which celebrates the return of these important artifacts to the house, and to marks the 10-year anniversary of our fight to protect the house – and in particular, the 1832 plasterwork – from proposed development next door.

Exhibition opens Thursday, May 12.

[Pictured here, ornamental plaster in the double parlor, one of the newly discovered molds, and a stylized acanthus leaf plaster cast made from the mold.]
We're told April showers bring May flowers ... but why wait? Under the diligent care of head gardener extraordinaire John Rommel, our 19th century garden is coming alive. Happy daffodils and sprightly pansies await you.
FOR SALE: late-Federal and Greek Revival row house, built in 1832, complete with one family's furnishings, decorative arts, and personal possessions.
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APRIL FOOLS! A Federal, State, and City Landmark (Manhattan's first!), we at the Merchant's House fulfill our mission through public educational programs and exhibitions, conservation of our original collections, and restoration of our 190-year-old building.

As we enter the TENTH YEAR of fighting proposed development next door, rest assured that we will never stop working to ensure the Merchant's House remains a pillar of education of 19th century New York for generations to come.
Over the Tredwell family's 98-year residency on Fourth Street, their home was frequently filled with children -- in addition to the eight Tredwell children, there were six grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

In 1995, Seabury and Eliza Tredwell's great-grandson, Roger, wrote to the Merchant's House, recalling boyhood visits to his Aunt Gertrude: "I guess what I remember most is sliding down the wonderful bannister in the front hall."

We can only imagine what other mischief the Tredwell children got up to over the years!

Artwork by Mischelle Moy
The Greek War of Independence began on this day in 1821. According to our friends Village Preservation - Greenwich Village Society For Historic Preservation: "Few could predict the impact this revolution would have not only in Europe but also some 5,000 miles away from the site of battle, at a time NoHo was booming.

With the Greek struggle still fresh, architects were inspired to turn to the ancient buildings of the so-called Cradle of Democracy for new designs. The Greek Revival style was born, and defined many of our most beloved landmarks, as well as ubiquitous, everyday structures."

Pictured: Ionic column capital, MHM Front Parlor.
If you missed Anthony Bellov's sold-out talk at The National Arts Club last week, the recording is now available online!

In this illustrated talk, explore the Merchant's House in a way the casual visitor never experiences. Anthony opens doors and drawers and examines overlooked features that tell us much about the house, the era, the Tredwell family, and the servants who made it all possible.

View the talk at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXD_UBAwnK8

For more from Anthony, join us (and special guest Carswell Rush Berlin) on April 27 for an in-depth virtual tour exploring the Tredwell Furniture Collection! Tickets at www.merchantshouse.org/calendar/reservations.
Happy Spring! 🌸💐🌷

Head Gardener John Rommel is working his magic and bringing our 19th century garden back to life. Pictured here, Hellebore, also known as Lenten Rose.
Happy St. Patrick's Day! ☘️☘️

The Tredwells’ servants, primarily immigrants from Ireland, likely had limited time off. While they worked, they constantly kept an ear out for the sound of the call balls. Each bell had a different tone, so the servants knew where they were needed.

Servants usually had time off to attend religious services on Sunday, and likely had one afternoon off a week. In addition, the Tredwells’ Irish servants almost certainly received the day off on St. Patrick's Day to attend the parade and join the celebrations.

St. Patrick's Day was of huge social importance to Irish servants in NYC; a popular custom for the holiday was to write home to Ireland and request shamrocks or dirt to be sent to America so they could carry around a small piece of home.

For more about the Tredwells' Irish servants, join us tonight at 6 p.m. for a virtual house tour: "In the Footsteps of Bridget Murphy."

Tickets at https://merchantshouse.org/calendar/reservations/#!/March-17-6-p-m-Bridget-Murphy-Virtual-Tour/p/436531285/category=1651948
Taken with an early 20th century view camera fitted with a 19th century lens, the evocative images in artist Hal Hirshorn’s "Tending the Fires" series recreate one of the most humble chores performed by the family’s Irish servants.

Although no images of the actual servants who lived and worked at the Merchant's House exist, these remarkable photographs pay tribute to these young women, the majority of whom were Irish immigrants.

A selection of photographs from "Tending the Fires" is currently on display at the Merchant's House, included with regular museum admission.

Looking for more information about the Tredwells' Irish servants? To celebrate St. Patrick's Day, join us this Thursday evening for a virtual house tour, "In the Footsteps of Bridget Murphy."

Register at https://merchantshouse.org/calendar/reservations/#!/March-17-6-p-m-Bridget-Murphy-Virtual-Tour/p/436531285/category=1651948

[📷: Hal Hirshorn]
During the mid-19th century, letter writing was the most common way to communicate over distances, both far and near, and women were primarily responsible for maintaining the family’s personal correspondence. They regularly exchanged letters with family members and friends, sometimes writing two or three letters a day. Many 19th-century women owned a desk, like the one pictured here in Eliza Tredwell's bedroom, for this purpose.

Until the late-19th century, the U.S. Postal Service did not deliver mail directly to homes. Instead, a servant or household member went to the local post office once or twice a day to collect the letters. Many wealthy New Yorkers hired either officially sanctioned postal carriers or independent “local post” companies to bring mail straight to their doors.

[Photo by Susan DeVries.]
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