It’s What’s on the Inside: the Merchant’s House’s Landmarked Interior

Front entrance of the Merchant’s House Museum. Photo courtesy of static.panoramio.com.

2016 marked the 80th year in the Merchant’s House Museum’s history.  While the museum is also a NYC landmark, did you know it’s also one of the few landmarks to have both exterior and interior designation? 

In addition to being the museum’s 80th year, it’s also the 35th year of its interior designation.   For an historic building, the interior of the museum was remarkably well-preserved and, because of the reclusive nature of Gertrude Tredwell, the last of the Tredwell family to inhabit that house, we are able to gain a sense of the inner workings of their home and family life in the 19th Century.  When the building was acquired in the 1930’s, this remarkable cache of objects was found and the idea of transforming the building into a museum was born.

Parlor, Merchant’s House Museum. Photo courtesy of the museum.

Here is what the museum has to say about their collection:

“The Tredwell family – Seabury and Eliza and their eight children – lived in the House for almost 100 years, from 1835 to 1933, when Gertrude, the youngest daughter and last family member, died. A remarkable number of their possessions were retained in the house when it was turned into a museum in 1936.

The Museum’s collection of Tredwells’ original possessions comprise almost 2,500 objects: furnishings, decorations, lighting devices, household, personal and sewing accessories, family photographs, books, ephemera, works of art, costumes, and textiles.

An unfinished quilt or needlework panel; the hand-stitched dress alteration; a personalized greeting card; a child’s composition book;  a tin ‘hat tub’ on the floor — all provide an intimate, and authentic look at the life of this 19th-century New York merchant-class family.”

Bedroom, Merchant’s House Museum. Photo courtesy of the museum.

The Merchant’s House is a wonderful time capsule of the 19th Century and a look into the lives of old New Yorkers and Village residents.  We encourage everyone to check it out and in the meantime learn more about the museum and its history from some of these past posts:

Happy 80th Birthday, Merchant’s House Museum!

Photos of the Merchant’s House as a Young Museum

Merchant’s House Round-Up!

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Matthew Morowitz