The Merchant's House Museum, known formerly as the Old Merchant's House and as the Seabury Tredwell House, is the only nineteenth-century family home in New York City preserved intact - both inside and out. Built "on spec" in 1832 by Joseph Brewster, a hatter by trade, it is located at 29 East Fourth Street, between Lafayette Street and the Bowery in Manhattan. It became a museum in 1936, founded by George Chapman, a cousin of the family who once lived there.
Of note, the House was among the first 20 buildings designated in 1965 under the City’s new landmarks law. It is the only historic house museum in the Greenwich Village/SoHo/NoHo neighborhoods and celebrated 75 years as a museum in 2011.
In addition to its magnificent period rooms, the museum presents many performances, presentations, lectures, exhibits and special events throughout the year. Ongoing research and state-of-the-art documentation and conservation techniques assure that more is constantly being learned about the house, its furnishings and outstanding textile collections, and “what life was really like” for a 19th-century New York family.
In 1991, in a joint effort with the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, the Merchant’s House Museum launched the educational program, "Greenwich Village: History and Historic Preservation". The program was designed to teach students local history, architectural vocabulary, and the fundamentals of historic preservation. The program ran through the end of the 1990s at the museum, but eventually shifted its focus to the West Village, where it continues to reach out to students in the five boroughs.
The Museum’s collection of over 3,000 items comprises the possessions of the Tredwells, the wealthy merchant-class family who lived in the House from 1835 to 1933. The collection includes furniture, decorative arts, clothing, photographs and books, household items, and personal items. Highlights include a suite of 12 mahogany side chairs attributed to renowned furniture maker Duncan Phyfe, a pair of matching six-globe gas chandeliers, and 40 dresses and numerous fashion accessories that belonged to the Tredwell women.