Thursday, August 25, 2011

NYC Vintage Image Of The Day: The Merchant House, 1835

Among 300 surviving Federal-style homes in New York City, the Merchant's House on East Fourth Street off Lafayette is the only 19th-Century structure showcasing original furnishings and belongings. The four-story red brick and white marble row house, built in 1832, offers a glimpse of domestic life from 1835 to 1865, as NYC evolved from a colonial seaport into an urban metropolis.

For nearly 100 years, it housed the wealthy 10-member Tredwell family, after papa Seabury bought it in 1835 for $18,000. His daughter Gertrude and her seven siblings were born in the home; she gradually lost her damn mind and lived holed up in an upstairs bedroom, crazy at a coot, until her death in 1933. It then became a museum (with a pricey $10 adult admission), thanks to the fact that Gert maintained the home's original furnishings throughout her life.

Unfortunately, the same can't be said for the Merchant House's surrounding neighborhood, which I traipsed through on Monday. Because the Bowery nabe is rapidly gentrifying, the structure to the left is shuttered and waiting for new life, while on the right is a big empty, ugly lot.Below, how the house looks today.