“Should I take the L train to 3rd avenue and just walk the rest of the way, or take the L train and transfer to the 6 train and walk only 4 minutes. Do I need exercise? Hmm…” I debated with myself.
The L train was a smooth and moderately filled ride. And the 6 train came as soon as I reached the platform. Today was finally the day I set aside my back pains and whatever else held me from venturing to this historic home.
It took me about six minutes to reach the house and if you didn’t pay attention to your surroundings, you’d definitely miss it. Incognito yet blatant in its seniority, the Merchant’s House greeted me with a “hello, come in”. Climbing up the steep steps, I found the bell and pressed once.
Upon entering the house, a silhouette of a very petite figured woman stood down the hall.
“Hello! Welcome!” Said a faceless, friendly woman. The rugs were a maroon color and I started my way down the hall towards her. Growing closer, I found that she was an older woman who seemed to have been working there for years.
She shifted her glasses and said, “Yes, come in from the cold. It’s freezing outside!”
“Yes, it’s pretty cold out.” I couldn’t help but smile at her – her gentle elderly voice and calm demeanor rubbed off on me.
“Are you a student?” She asked.
“Not yet, but I will be in the Fall. I own a travel blog that needs updating.” I fumbled in my bag and pulled out the $15 for admission.
“Oh, that’s nice. Thank you for choosing to come visit. Is it just you?”
“Yes, just me.” I grinned. We had a short chat, she filled me in with the house and where the tour began. A book was placed in my possession; it detailed the information about the house’s layout as well a ton of facts about the Tredwell Family.
Donation Birdy House.
I was directed to hang up my coat downstairs where the tour started. While walking down the steps, I felt a significant churning, like I was melting into another time.
Found at the coat hanging section.
The silence settled me and I focused in on immersing myself in the home that had been built in 1832. A short version of the history behind the Merchant’s House goes a little like this: Seabury Tredwell was a wealthy merchant who decided that 29 E 4th Street would be a swell place to reside and raise a family. He bought the house for $18,000 from Joseph Brewster (the builder). There lived him, his wife and his 8 children, along with his ever changing servants who were Irish immigrants. He resided in that home until his death which occurred in 1865. Not only is it known for its past history of the Tredwell family, it’s also known for its haunted reputation. Gertrude, the youngest of the Tredwell family, never married and lived her entire life in that home until she died at the age of 93 in 1933. Many folks believe that she is protecting her family home.
The self-guided tour began in the kitchen downstairs. Somehow I felt like a woman from that era would zoom past in front of me and begin baking. Everything looked as if it was in its right place.
A bucket of coals that the servants would carry. Nearly broke my damn arm.
The next room I entered was a sort of study and the style resembled the living room upstairs.
Antique Teacups owned by the Tredwells.
And at that moment, from the corner of my eye, I caught half of a tall woman gliding across the opened door. I was not startled — I was impressed.
“I see you.” I stated loud enough for Gertrude to hear but with respect the silence of her home. I stepped out of the study with hopes I’d see her, but no luck – as usual. In the hallway, I found a few more interesting chronicles of history.
Drawing of Union Square in 1850. Thought that was pretty cool.
Help support the Merchant’s House Museum. (I donated a dollar and you can too!)
I took myself back upstairs to the first floor. It was delightful to hear the classical piano music playing, it flavored the experience.
Chandelier in rear parlor.
Front parlor. (Wish I took a better photo.)
The famous piano that Gertrude still plays in spirit.
I tried to capture the tranquil moment in my mind — took mental pictures. The house has a way of bringing the gentleness out of you. Each step I took upstairs, the creaking that the steps made, cause me to feel as though I’d ruin the historic house. So, I took sweet steps.
Honestly, the mannequin scared the hell out of me.
The bed that Gertrude died on.
I lingered there for a bit and took the next flight of steps. The third floor was strictly for staff, so visitors had to keep trekking up until the 4th floor. The 4 floor was the servant’s quarters. As stated in the booklet as well as the board you see below, the servants were an important asset to wealthy folks like the Tredwells.
Ad seeking a female Irish servant.
Outside of the room sat two small chairs, and my back pains took me to them. In those quiet moments, I indulged myself on an imaginary account in which I pictured seeing the life that the servant women lived. How they were treated, how they treated each other, the way they looked, and the things they learned — all bubbling my head. My back pains screamed, “okay, okay!” I said to myself and departed downstairs.
Rugs that resemble that of the Frescoes.
It was nice visiting!
Before leaving, I chatted it up with the staff member and questioned more about the livelihood of the Merchant’s House — how much longer until they build the hotel next to it. She replied, “We haven’t heard anything yet. For years actually, nothing.” And I felt the worry brush through her words. The existence of this historic house is on the verge of being completely fucked because of money. The unfortunate reality hit me, many men, women, and children all across the world come to New York City for the culture and the history. New York City would be shifted with the loss of the Merchant’s House. And, unfortunately, the decision to stop building hasn’t been changed — only a matter of time.
If you’d like to help donate to this beautiful museum, visit: http://merchantshouse.org/support/
If you’d also like to get more information regarding the price, hours and directions just visit: http://merchantshouse.org/visit/
To the history buffs, I suggest you visit this gorgeous home. I rate my experience a solid 10/10.
As always, thanks for reading guys!
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