Opened as a museum in 1936, the Merchant’s House is New York City’s only remaining, fully intact 19th century home. Constructed “on spec” by hatter Joseph Brewster, it was sold to wealthy merchant Seabury Treadwell. Over the next several generations, various family members resided in the home. During this period of time, both the exterior and interior were scrupulously maintained. As the surrounding Bowery neighborhood changed, the family continued to live in the house using many pieces of original furniture. The façade is similar to the federal style, while the interior is more consistent with Greek revival architecture.
In addition to the original furnishings, the home displays decorative objects, clothing and personal mementoes of the Treadwell family. As it stands, the museum is one of the finest surviving examples of old New York. The museum enables visitors to step through the portal of a time machine and go back to when the city was just becoming a thriving seaport. In 1965, the home received the designation as a National Historic Landmark. Under the guidance of designer Carolyn Roberto and architect Joseph Roberto, the home underwent extensive restoration in 1971.
At its location on East Fourth Street near Lafayette, the museum presents lectures, performances and conducts on-going research about what life was like for a New York family in the early 19th century.