Merchant’s House Museum

I recently saw a notice that the Merchant’s House Museum was giving a special showing of the servants’ quarters.  Well, that led me to try and figure out what the Merchant’s House Museum was and why would I care about the servants’ quarters.

It’s actually a house of a former NYC resident.  Former, as in the early 1800s.  It was originally built by Joseph Brewster and bought by Seabury Tredwell, a merchant who did import/export around the time of the Erie Canal.  He did very well, and build this house to show how well he did.  His family lived there until 1933 and was then given to the City.


As houses in America go, it’s not particularly large, but it is good sized for NYC.

It has at least four floors, with the top floor being the servants’ quarters.

When you go in, your receive (for your $8) a notebook with a self-guided tour.  You first go to the basement and look at the living areas down there.  There are some displays of how life was for the era.  The kitchen is very interesting.


Just past the table you can see a white object.


Yeah, it’s the family bathtub.  They’d bathe every week or so, whether they needed it or not I imagine.

Pardon the poor quality of the pictures.  They don’t allow flash photography and the lighting is poor so my shutter stayed open forever.

The main floor had the living and dining rooms.  It doesn’t appear to have original furnishings, but ones from the proper era.


Notice the coffin.  Technically, it’s not the living room:  it’s the parlor.  Deaths were frequent in those days and homes were traditionally part of the funeral process.

The upstairs held the main bedrooms.  I did like the built-ins.


But the area that really makes the place is the back courtyard.  What I wouldn’t give…


And a wonderful view of the back of the house.


The servants’ quarters are currently used for storage, so there’s really nothing to see other than the space itself. 

The house feature that’s interesting is that the money for building the place was spent in making it look good to impress the frequent visitors.  Then, as now, the servants’ quarters weren’t places that the visitors would go so they were the worst looking and maintained.  However, the front of the house was on full display, so the quarter’s external visage was equal with the rest of the house.

Overall, the museum isn’t a don’t-miss kind of display.  But I enjoyed it and found it interesting and my $8 reasonably well-spent.


Explore posts in the same categories: Greenwich Village, Manhattan, Wanderings

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