Merchant's House Museum

Life at Home in Mid-19th Century New York City

The Ground Floor restoration is complete! Want to know more? Click here.

Calendar of Events

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A “Best Kept Secret in the World” (TIME Style)

Best museum for fully immersing yourself in Old New York:
The Merchant’s House”  Metro New York, BEST OF

Certificate of Excellence 2013 (TripAdvisor)
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EXHIBITIONS

Through Monday, April 14
Out of Their Boxes: The Tredwell Costume Collection Returns
After two years of structural restoration, the plaster dust has settled and the fragile Tredwell dresses from the Museum’s collection are back on display. Currently on display in Eliza Tredwell’s bedroom: a two-piece pink-and-white striped cotton dress, 1862-1865, made of printed fabric replicating an ikat pattern. The invention of synthetic aniline dyes in 1856 made possible the pink color of the fabric. Included with regular admission.

Through Monday, March 31
Winter Warmth: How the Tredwells Bundled Up
Rarely seen objects from the original Tredwell collections are on display, including a foot stove, quilts, a muff,  hand-knit ‘joint warmers,’ and a crocheted capelette, all items the family used to (try to) keep warm during the cold winter months.  In the 19th century, there was no escaping the cold. Even with brisk fires burning, water froze in wash bowls, ink in wells, and wine in their bottles.  People did what little they could to keep the cold at bay, but interior temperatures in the 19th century were well below today’s standard 68 degrees.  Included with regular admission.

OPENS Thursday, May 1, through Monday, June 30
Tredwell Brides: Changing Wedding Traditions in the 19th Century
This exhibition examines changes in wedding traditions over the course of the 1800s, from the private ceremonies associated with the early-19th century to the lavish affairs common in the post-Civil War period. Wedding customs such as the trousseau, printed invitations, and the giving of gifts will also be explained. On display, Eliza Tredwell’s 1820 empire-style embroidered cotton wedding dress and Sarah Ann Tredwell’s 1872 silk bridal dress made in Paris and the highest fashion of the post-Civil War bustle period. Accessories include silk wedding boots, and earrings, corsage, and headpiece of wax orange blossoms.
Included with regular admission.

PROGRAMS 

Sundays, March 2, 9, 16, 23, and 30, 1 p.m.
19th Century Lifeways Program
In the Footsteps of Bridget Murphy: A Walking Tour
In this 45-minute walking tour of the neighborhood surrounding the Merchant’s House, we’ll explore the world of the Irish immigrants who worked as domestic servants for the Tredwells and other wealthy families of the Bond Street area. What did they do on their day off? Where did they shop? Go to church? How did they find employment when they first arrived? We’ll explore all of these questions and see sites associated with a servant’s life outside the walls of her employer’s home.
Promenaders will return to the Museum in time to take the 2 p.m. Guided Tour if they wish.
$10, Students & Seniors $5, FREE for Members. Reservations not necessary.

NOTE: Walking tours may be canceled in the case of heavy rain, snow, or extreme heat and cold advisories.

Saturday, April 5, 6:30 p.m.
Cooking Demonstration & Tasting in the Period Kitchen
At the Tredwells’ Table: Cooking Upstairs, and Downstairs, in the 19th Century

Join us for a ‘taste back in time’ as we discuss foods the Tredwell family and their Irish servants would have eaten in the mid-19th century. Merchant’s House Museum tour guide and professionally trained chef Carl Raymond will demonstrate the cooking of several classic dishes taken from the country’s first cookbooks, with essential cooking hints and tips for 21st century kitchens. The audience will be able to taste each dish with a glass of wine and will receive recipes to take home.
Space is limited. Reservations: nyc1832@merchantshouse.org.
$40, $25 Members.

Friday, April 18, 6:30 p.m.
Candlelight Ghost Tour
Doors slam, floorboards creak, voices call into the night.  Venture into the shadows of history to see the house where eight family members died (and The New York Times called “Manhattan’s Most Haunted House”) by flickering candlelight and hear true tales of inexplicable occurrences from the people who actually experienced them.
50 minutes. $20, $10 Members. Reservations required.

Tuesday, April 29th, 6:30 p.m.
19th Century Lifeways Lecture
The Care & Feeding of Antique Furniture: Tips from an Expert

Misinformation, coupled with downright fear, runs rampant on the subject of caring for antique furniture. Furniture restoration expert Roderick P. Thompson, President, Santo Spirito Restorations, returns for a presentation on the ‘do’s and dont’s’ of proper furniture maintenance. Mr. Thompson covers the nuts and bolts in depth, plus some hints and tips, including the many materials and applications for upkeep and restoration — and how/where/when to use them: glues (hide, epoxy, Gorilla, PVA, etc.); finishes (wax, shellac, varnish and other resins, lacquers, plastics and acrylics, etc.); solvents (alcohol, mineral spirits, acetone, etc.). Mr. Thompson will also address your specific questions during this informative hour-long lecture.
$15, Members Free. Reservations required.

May 1 through May 30
Lower East Side (LES) History Month
The Merchant’s House is pleased to participate in the first annual celebration of the rich, diverse history of the Lower East Side, a collaboration of more than 50 LES-based cultural and community groups. Public events, exhibits, tours, and learning opportunities will take place at multiple sites within in the historical definition of the LES—East Village, Chinatown, Little Italy, and Alphabet City.
Opening Picnic, Saturday, May 4, 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m., Performances and activities for all ages. Pier 42, East River Bikeway
Info & full calendar: www.leshistorymonth.org. #leshistorymonth

Saturday, May 3, 3:30 p.m. (also Saturday, June 7, 3:30 p.m.)
Special Interactive Tour for Families
A Child’s View of Life in 19th Century New York
29 East Fourth Street was home not only to the eight Tredwell children, but also to two young granddaughters. Come tour the house and learn what life was like for children (and adults) in the 1850s, from schoolwork and chores to games and play. Could you carry a bucket of coal up steep stairs? Do you have a calling card? A top hat? What, no hoop skirt? How did you take a bath? And penmanship really, really mattered.
Best for children 8 to 12 years old.
$15, one adult, one child. $20, one adult, two children (max.).

Tuesday, May 6, 6:30 p.m.
19th Century Lifeways Lecture
The Brides of the Merchant’s House: What They Tell Us about Fashion and Social Custom

June Burns Bové will discuss the two 19th century wedding dresses in the Merchant’s House Museum’s collection in the context  of their times. Some wedding customs still linger; some have been discarded; and new interpretations have transformed old meanings.  Learn how fashion and social mores influence our opinion of that special day.
$15, Members FREE. Reservations required.

June Burns Bové is Adjunct Professor, School of Graduate Studies, Fashion Institute of Technology; Textile Conservator, Yeshiva University Museum; and former consultant to The Costume Institute, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Sunday, May 11, Tours at 12:30, 2, and 3:30 p.m.
Mother’s Day Tribute to Eliza Tredwell
In the 19th century, a woman’s chief responsibility was the raising of her children. Motherhood was her crowning achievement.  As a molder of the character of the Nation’s future citizens, mother was seen ultimately to influence government and society in a profound way. Join us for special tours of the house celebrating Eliza Tredwell, mother of eight children. Tours will celebrate women’s role in the home, “the throne of woman.”
Included with regular admission. Mothers visit FREE (with accompanying child, of whatever age).

Wednesday, May 21, 6:30 p.m.
Lecture & Tasting
America’s Romance with Chocolate: A Sweet Social History

Join us for a delectable evening of talk and tasting as we celebrate our country’s long love affair with chocolate. Culinary historian Cathy Kaufman will present an illustrated lecture followed by a tasting in our period kitchen of handmade chocolate truffles by chef Wai Hon Chu, paired with wine.
At the start of the 19th century, ladies ceremonially drank a breakfast chocolate — touted as a health food — from exquisite porcelain cups. But by mid-century, advances in manufacturing had turned this liquid delight into the chocolate bars that we know today, a portable confection and a luscious treat. This illustrated lecture will trace chocolate’s changing role and form in the social history of 19th century New York.
$40, $75 per couple, to benefit the Historic Furnishings Plan restoration. Reservations required.

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Every Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday, 2 p.m.
(Museum is closed Tuesday & Wednesday)
DAILY GUIDED TOUR of the Merchant’s House Museum
60 minutes. Included with regular admission. (Always FREE for Members)
Reservations not required for groups of fewer than 10 people.

Explore Manhattan’s “best-preserved” (The New York Times) 19th-century home and learn about the domestic life of a prosperous merchant family and their four Irish servants from 1835 to 1865, as New York City transformed from seaport to thriving metropolis. You’ll visit four floors of this Federal and Greek Revival style row house virtually complete with the family’s original furnishings and decorative arts.

The Museum’s newly restored 4th floor Servants’ Quarters are “arguably the oldest intact site of Irish habitation in Manhattan,” according to Time Out New York. You are invited to come climb the narrow staircase and see where the wealthy Tredwell family’s staff of four domestic servants lived and did some of their work.

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Sundays, 1 p.m., April through November
WALKING TOUR of 19th Century NoHo:
Glamour & Greed, Money & Murder

Join us for a journey back in time to the elite ‘Bond Street area,’ home to Astors, Vanderbilts, Delanos — and the Tredwells, who lived in the Merchant’s House.  You’ll walk the footsteps of these wealthy mercantile families whose elegant Federal mansions once lined the tranquil cobblestone streets.

Our tour passes by iconic landmarks such as the imposing Colonnade Row, the Public Theater (in 1854 the City’s first public library), and The Cooper Union, site of impassioned political speeches from Lincoln to Obama. On the bustling Astor Place, we’ll imagine the drama of events that led to the Opera House riot of 1849, among the bloodiest in American history. And we’ll visit the site of the scandalous 1857 Bond Street murder of Harvey Burdell, one of the City’s still unsolved crimes.
Tour is 50 minutes and begins promptly at 1 p.m.
Promenaders will return to the Museum in time to take the 2 p.m. GUIDED TOUR if they wish.
$10, Students & Seniors $5, FREE for Members.
Reservations not necessary.

NOTE: Walking tours may be canceled in the case of heavy rain, snow, or extreme heat and cold advisories.

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Past Programs

 

Reservations

Unless otherwise noted, reservations are strongly suggested for all events. Purchase tickets online or call 212-777-1089. Prepayment required (cancellations accepted up to 48 hours in advance).

Did you know — Museum members are invited to attend many events throughout the year for free or discounted admission. Learn how you can join.

19th Century Lifeways programs are supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

19th Century Lifeways programs are made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

As seen on Time Out New York

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