The Merchant House Museum is housed in the former home of Seabury Treadwell, a prosperous merchant in the mid-19th-century. As a formerly upscale residential neighborhood slowly transformed into an industrial, the dedicated descendants of Seabury managed to keep this home in near-original condition. When the last of the decedents left the home, it had become a unique relic of a bygone era and the need for public access and preservation was obvious.
What You Will See
The museum is comprised of four floors of rooms decorated in the style of the period--much of the furniture is original to the Treadwell family. Dedicated docents are available for tours and to give background on the family and their upper-class lifestyle. This was not a mansion with an army of servants, but neither was this an immigrant family struggling to get a foothold in the country. The Treadwells lived comfortably, supported by the hard work of Irish servants who lived upstairs.
Why You Should Go
Decades of New York history can just disappear as the city reinvents itself in the same few square miles over and over. The few pieces from a unique era that manage to survive the next wave of urban evolution provide a fascinating look into otherwise-forgotten New York. The Treadwell home is one of the most accessible and well-preserved of these relics and best experienced as a contrast to the two far ends of the economic spectrum of the time.