Merchant's House Museum

Top choice in SoHo & Chinatown

Built in 1832 and purchased by merchant Seabury Tredwell three years later, this red-brick mansion remains the most authentic Federal house in town. It's as much about the city’s mercantile past as it is a showcase of 19th-century high-end domestic furnishings, from the bronze gasoliers and marble mantelpieces to the elegant parlor chairs, attributed to noted furniture designer Duncan Phyfe. Even the multilevel call bells for the servants work to this day.

Since 2014 campaigners have been embroiled in a dispute over the construction of an eight-story hotel next door to the Merchant's House, which preservationists fear could undermine the foundations of the old building. Its status as a city, state and federal landmark has helped win an injunction meaning the developers cannot build above six stories, but campaigners see this as an empty victory and continue to fight for a guarantee that no construction will take place. If the developers get their way, the museum could close for at least two years during building works.

Many believe that the ghost of Gertrude Tredwell – Seabury's youngest child and the building's last resident – haunts the old mansion, making cameo appearances late in evenings and sometimes at public events. At a Valentine’s Day concert a few years back several attendees witnessed the shadow of a woman walk up to the performers and take a seat in the parlor chairs. Appropriately, the museum offers ghost tours after dark (usually once a month, excluding December), as well as lectures, special events and historical walking tours of NoHo. Check the website.

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