Paranormal Investigation At The Merchants House Museum
On Saturday, April 26th, 2014, I attended my first ever paranormal investigation, at the Merchants House, an 1832 red-brick row house on East Fourth Street that was home to a prosperous merchant family for almost 100 years. It is one of the citys most most fascinating historic houses, and is widely reputed to be haunted. You can read more about the Merchants House here and here, or find out more on my Greenwich Village Ghost Tour.
Gertrude Tredwell: still at home?
For seven years, Sturges Paranormal has been conducting an ongoing investigation into the various inexplicable happenings at the Merchants House. Dan Sturges is an amateur paranormal investigator, in the original, not-for-profit sense of the word. Hes also a regular co-host of the internet radio show The Psi Show with Larry Hewitt.
Dans investigational techniques take an admirably restrained, open-minded-skepticism approach. Saturdays investigation began simply. Five of us Dan, his colleague Rudy, myself, Merchants House board member Anthony Bellov, and volunteer Connie sat around a small table in one of the administrative offices and Dan told us what to expect. We would essentially go from room to room throughout the house with some very basic pieces of equipment and spend about fifteen minutes in each room.
Investigations can and do reveal interesting results, but not quickly.
Museum Visit: New Yorks Merchants House Museum
Sharon Twickler Magazine
All photographs are courtesy of the Merchants House Museum.
It was a dark and stormy afternoon when I toured the old Merchants House. Forgive my dramatic tone, reader, but for a house as storied as this one, its warranted. The museum, located in dowtown New York City on East Fourth Street, interprets nineteenth-century domestic life through the home and furnishings of a prosperous merchant family and their four Irish servants. Truly a portal to the past, the house is a Victorian time capsule, having been inhabited by the same family for nearly a hundred years. It retains all the original furnishings. Stunning inside and out, its red brick facade with Ionic columns and ornamental ironwork only hints at the jaw-dropping interiors that await.
As I began my tour I was handed a booklet and instructed to proceed to the garden behind the house. The sky was still clear as I stood in this sanctuary of stone and lush greenery, a far cry from the working yard of dirt and grass it had been in the nineteenth century. The museums gardener, John Rommel, has been a devoted volunteer since 1995 and continued to tend to the verdant space even when the museum was closed at the height of the pandemic. After admiring his handiwork, I open the guidebook and begin to get acquainted with the house and its residents.
Chandler photograph.Chandler photograph.Chandler photograph.
Higher Education And Research
More than 600,000 students are enrolled in New York City’s more than 120 higher education institutions, the highest number of any city in the world, with more than half a million in the system alone as of 2020, including both degree and professional programs. According to , New York City has, on average, the best higher education institutions of any .
Much of the in the city is done in medicine and the . New York City has the most postgraduate life sciences degrees awarded annually in the United States, with 127 having roots in local institutions as of 2005 while in 2012, 43,523 licensed physicians were practicing in New York City. Major biomedical research institutions include , Rockefeller University, , , , and , being joined by the / venture on . The graduates of in the Bronx earned the highest average annual salary of any university graduates in the United States, $144,000 as of 2017.
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Support The Museum By Buying A Book
Miracle on Fourth Street is the story of the preservation of a family home that belonged to one of the early merchants of New York City. Lived in by one family for almost 100 years, the house was preserved as a museum upon the death of the last family member.
The book recounts the struggle of the founder of the museum to realize his quixotic vision, the critical intervention of an architect who devoted his life to an authentic structural restoration, and the dedication of a group of professional women who would not give up their goal of reclaiming the beauty of the original furnishings.
It is a story of creative solutions to structural calamities, heartbreaking setbacks, disappointing personality conflicts, and the current stewards triumph over a final brutal assault on the building that quite literally could have brought the house down
Primary And Secondary Education
The system, managed by the , is the largest public school system in the United States, serving about 1.1 million students in more than 1,700 separate primary and secondary schools. The city’s public school system includes nine to serve academically and artistically . The city government pays the to educate a very small, detached section of the Bronx.
The New York City Charter School Center assists the setup of new . There are approximately 900 additional privately run secular and religious schools in the city.
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Vicinity Of The Merchants House: The Bond Street Area
When the Seabury Treadwell family moved into their 29 East 4th Street row house in 1835, they were living in one of New York’s most fashionable and best-known residential neighborhoods: the Bond Street area, which consisted of the east-to-west streets north of Houston Street and adjacent to Broadway, specifically, Bleecker, Bond, Great Jones, and East 4th Streets. Highly desirable Lafayette Place, location of the famed Colonnade Row, ran north-to-south several blocks from Astor Place to Great Jones Street.
There, elegant brick and marble-front row houses and mansions, the homes of some of New York’s leading families, lined the serene tree-lined streets. “The elegance and beauty of this section cannot be surpassed in the country,” exclaimed one New York newspaper in 1835.
After the Civil War, the Bond Street area lost all semblance of its patrician past. The elegant dwellings became “restaurants of private boarding-houses, barroom or groceries, peculiar physicians’offices or midwives’ headquarters.” Other houses became sweatshops, lofts, or warehouses.
Only a bedraggled handful of row houses survive on Bleecker, Bond, Great Jones, and East 4th Streets. On Bond Street, for instance, only No. 26, with its elaborate fanlight doorway and dormer windows intact, recalls the street’s past dignity. A few pathetic houses still stand at the Broadway and Bowery ends of the block–the basement and first floors converted into a store front or truck-loading platform.
Tour Policies & Covid
- Reservations are required for the 12 p.m. guided tour.
- There are no reservations for self-guided visits.
- Groups larger than 8 people MUST schedule a private visit, booked at least two weeks in advance. Read more about Group Tours.
- For the safety of our visitors, staff, and volunteers, proof of vaccination is required for all visitors age 5 and up to visit the Merchants House.
- Face masks required. All visitors over age two are required to wear a mask on Museum property at all times, regardless of vaccination status. Staff is also required to wear masks.
- Hand sanitizer stations are located throughout the Museum.
- Large bags must be checked. Large bags may not be carried inside the museum, and must be checked at the admissions desk.
- The Merchants House is not air conditioned, and is not wheelchair-accessible. Read more about accessibility.
- If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or have received a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, you must postpone to a later date, or cancel. The museum will offer to refund or exchange your tickets. Email .
- Merchants House staff and visitors have the right to an environment free from unsafe, threatening, or inappropriate behavior. We reserve the right to deny or revoke entry to anyone not abiding by these guidelines to ensure the safety of our staff and other visitors.
Merchants House Museum
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The Same Family Lived In The House For Nearly 100 Years
The Merchants House was originally built for Joseph Brewster in 1832, though he lived there for only three years. In 1835, the home was purchased by Seabury Tredwell, a wealthy hardware merchant. After thirty-two years in the hardware trade, Tredwell retired and settled into 29 East Fourth Street with his wife and seven children.
The Tredwells would occupy the home for nearly 100 years, until 1933. The last Tredwell to live in the home was Seaburys eighth child and youngest daughter, Gertrude. She was born in the home in 1840 and died in the upstairs front bedroom at the age of 93.
American Revolution And The Early United States
Manhattan was at the heart of the , a series of major battles in the early . The was forced to abandon Manhattan after the on November 16, 1776. The city, greatly damaged by the during the campaign, became the British military and political center of operations in North America for the remainder of the war. The military center for the colonists was established in New Jersey. British occupation lasted until November 25, 1783, when returned to Manhattan, as .
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Archives Personal Files & Ephemera
The Old Merchants House, built in 1832, is a four-story Greek Revival red brick row house, marked by distinctive dormer windows and a white marble door surround. The house was owned by Seabury Tredwells family from 1835 until the death of Tredwells daughter in 1933. In 1936, the home was opened to the public as a house museum. For much of its life as a museum, the Merchants House had subsisted under the managing authority of the Historic Landmarks Society , a group established in 1957 by a relative, George Chapman, to purchase the house and its contents and to protect the home from destruction. A short time after the HLSs formation, George Chapman, who ran the HLS, attempted to sell the home to pay for his medical expenses. At first the board refused, but eventually acquiesced to purchase the familys furnishings . Because the HLS board used nearly all of their endowment to secure the contents of the house, their function changed to that of a holding company.1 After Chapmans death, the house slowly sank into disrepair. Because of its financial woes, The Merchants House Museum struggled to remain open and operating. Throughout this time, the Municipal Art Society remained loyal to the cause of rescuing the Old Merchants House from decline.
: The deed of the Old Merchant’s House is handed over to the Historic Landmark Society
May 11, 1936: The Old Merchants House is opened to the public as a house museum for the first time
In 1965, the Villager noted:
Culture And Contemporary Life
Manhattan is the borough most closely associated with New York City by non-residents regionally, residents within the , including natives of New York City’s boroughs outside Manhattan, will often describe a trip to Manhattan as “going to the City”. Journalist characterized the streets of Manhattan as being traversed by “hurrying, feverish, electric crowds”.
Manhattan has been the scene of many important American cultural movements. In 1912, about 20,000 workers, a quarter of them women, marched upon to commemorate the , which killed 146 workers on March 25, 1911. Many of the women wore fitted tucked-front blouses like those manufactured by the Triangle Shirtwaist Company, a clothing style that became the working woman’s uniform and a symbol of , reflecting the alliance of labor and suffrage movements.
The in the 1920s established the African-American literary canon in the United States and introduced writers and . Manhattan’s vibrant visual art scene in the 1950s and 1960s was a center of the American movement, which gave birth to such giants as and . The downtown pop art movement of the late 1970s included artist and clubs like and , where he socialized.
Since 1990, the largely powerless Borough President has acted as an advocate for the borough at the mayoral agencies, the City Council, the New York state government, and corporations. Manhattan’s current is , elected as a in November 2013 with 82.9% of the vote. Brewer replaced , who went on to become .
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Sexual Orientation And Gender Identity
The New York metropolitan area is home to about 570,000 self-identifying and people, and one of the world’s largest. were legalized on June 24, 2011 and were authorized to take place on July 23, 2011. Charles Kaiser, author of The Gay Metropolis: The Landmark History of Gay Life in America, wrote that in the era after , “New York City became the literal gay metropolis for hundreds of thousands of immigrants from within and without the United States: the place they chose to learn how to live openly, honestly and without shame.”
The annual traverses southward down and ends at in Lower Manhattan the parade rivals the as the largest pride parade in the world, attracting tens of thousands of participants and millions of sidewalk spectators each June. The annual is held in and is accompanied by the ensuing Multicultural Parade.
Water Purity And Availability
New York City is supplied with drinking water by the protected . As a result of the watershed’s integrity and undisturbed natural system, New York is one of only four major cities in the United States the majority of whose drinking water is pure enough not to require purification by plants. The city’s municipal water system is the largest in the United States, moving over one billion gallons of water per day. The north of the city is undergoing construction of a $3.2 billion water purification plant to augment New York City’s water supply by an estimated 290 million gallons daily, representing a greater than 20% addition to the city’s current availability of water. The ongoing expansion of , an integral part of the New York City water supply system, is the largest capital construction project in the city’s history, with segments serving Manhattan and the Bronx completed, and with segments serving Brooklyn and Queens planned for construction in 2020. In 2018, New York City announced a $1 billion investment to protect the integrity of its water system and to maintain the purity of its unfiltered water supply.
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Crime And Public Safety
Starting in the mid-19th century, the United States became a magnet for immigrants seeking to escape poverty in their home countries. After arriving in New York, many new arrivals ended up living in squalor in the of the neighborhood, an area between and the , northeast of . By the 1820s, the area was home to many gambling dens and , and was known as a dangerous place to go. In 1842, visited the area and was appalled at the horrendous living conditions he had seen. The area was so notorious that it even caught the attention of , who visited the area before his in 1860. The predominantly Irish was one of the country’s first major entities.
As Italian immigration grew in the early 20th century many joined ethnic gangs, including , who got his start in crime with the Five Points Gang. first developed in the mid-19th century in and spread to the during the late 19th century following waves of Sicilian and Southern Italian emigration. established , forming alliances with other criminal enterprises, including the , led by , the leading Jewish gangster of that period. From 19201933, helped create a thriving in liquor, upon which the Mafia was quick to capitalize.
Wealth And Income Disparity
New York City, like other large cities, has a high degree of , as indicated by its of 0.55 as of 2017. In the first quarter of 2014, the average weekly wage in New York County was $2,749, representing the highest total among large counties in the United States. As of 2017, New York City was home to the highest number of of any city in the world at 103, including former . New York also had the highest density of millionaires per capita among major U.S. cities in 2014, at 4.6% of residents. New York City is one of the relatively few American cities levying an on its residents. As of 2018, there were 78,676 in New York City.
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