On a warm day in May, a group of Greeters arrived at 29 East 4th Street, to visit the Merchant’s House Museum. The house is New York City’s only 19th century home preserved virtually intact, with original family furnishings and personal belongings.
Our guide Tina, the Collections Manager, had us climb four steep flights of stairs – so we wouldn’t miss a thing. As we moved throughout the house, Tina beguiled us with historical details.
Built in 1832 by Joseph Brewster, a hatter by trade, the house was in an exclusive residential suburb for wealthy merchants. Just three years later, Brewster sold the house for $18,000 to hardware merchant, Seabury Tredwell, with his wife, Elija and their eight children. Most of what’s inside is from the Tredwell era.
Highlights of our tour included the ground-floor kitchen with three call bells – each with a distinctive ring so the servants knew who was calling – and the second floor Front Parlor with elaborately decorated ceilings, chandeliers and sofas in Greek Revival style. This extravagant room was used to entertain (and impress) visitors. We saw the rear bedroom where Eliza gave birth – and was also used for anyone who was ill, since only the poor or the insane went to hospitals at that time.
In 1936, the house became a museum, acquiring heat and electricity. In the 1970’s, it was restored to such accurate detail, even the ecru wall paint is the exact shade from the 1850’s time period.
To book a tour for ten people or more, call 212-777-1089 or email [email protected] The museum is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but is open all other days from 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm with guided tours at 2:00 pm.