I love having a good nosey around a stranger’s house – and I also love visiting old properties frozen in time, so that I can wander through the rooms, imagining myself as a former resident. Today I got to do both at the Merchant’s House Museum.
My friend Jade had suggested heading to this house on East 4th Street a few weeks ago, and I realized that I must have walked past it hundreds of times without ever noticing it was there. Which is ridiculous, because it doesn’t exactly fade in with its surroundings.
The house was built in 1832 and owned by a wealthy merchant, Seabury Tredwell, who lived there with his wife, six daughters and two sons. A couple of the daughters were married but the remaining four lived at the home for the rest of their lives. When the longest-living daughter passed away in the 1930s, the house was taken over by the city and has now be decorated exactly as the family had it during the 1850s.
It’s a skinny home but the rooms are open with high ceilings, lots of light and sturdy walls that block out any sound from the street. Ryan and I started with the basement floor – which housed the kitchen (complete with rats) and a study – before working our way up through the house.
On the ground floor, there were two parlors which could be joined or separated by a screen door in the middle. Right now it’s decorated for Christmas – with a table filled with snacks and a mini Christmas tree by the large windows overlooking 4th Street. Some of the furniture in this room looked a lot more recent to me than the 1850s, while other pieces seemed far more solid and ancient – showing the variety of tastes here in the home.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t a ton more to see – yet there were two more floors. The third floor, which would have housed more bedrooms, was entirely blocked off to visitors, while the top floor only had one room on show. This one had been for the four servants who lived here and the rooms were predictably sparse – but still, there were those gorgeous high ceilings that helped flood the room with light.
After about half an hour – and $10 each – we headed back out into NoHo. I loved the intimate insight into social history and there was nothing inauthentic about the place. But it was a shame that one whole floor wasn’t on show at all. I’d say it’s beautiful and interesting enough to warrant a visit, but I warn you that, like me, you’ll leave probably wanting more.