Did you know that a building can be landmarked on the interior but not on the exterior? We went to the East Village this week to attend a talk in the Merchant’s House Museum, hosted by the Greenwich Village Society for Historical Preservation. There was possibly no better location to host an event on interior landmarking than in this historic row house, built in 1832 by merchant Seabury Tredwell. This building is landmarked both inside and outside and it is the only house in Manhattan to survive with its original furniture and family memorabilia.
Since the last time we’ve been by this street, a lot has changed. At the corner is a new high rise condo, attached to an older row house. Some old photographs show a little what the streetscape was like in 1899 and 1936, when the Merchants House was still attached to other residential buildings.
1899: The building next door (on the right, in the photograph) appears to have the same ironwork fence and brickwork as the Merchant’s House (center), despite having very different windows. By 1936, the ironwork fence is gone and the building next door has a completely different tone of brick.
In the second half of the 19th century, commercial buildings and factories came to dominate the area and the last photograph to show a building attached that I could find is from 1944. The more important fact is that the lot next door and the lot where the new highrise is have been used as a parking lot for decades. Photos from nyc.gov show the changes between 1924 and now. At some point, the next door lot was full of trees but now it is completely empty except for a few trailers and porter-potties. This lot was used as a construction facility for the construction of the high-rise so it will probably be transformed into another high-rise soon…
Landmarking can also apply only to certain areas of an interior and in this house, the attic of the house is not landmarked. The architectural style of the Merchants House is known as the Greek Revival style, which was similar to other homes in the area. The entrance is particularly intricate with corinthian columns, stone arc, a decorative window and ironwork railings.
29 E. 4th St.
Subway: R to 8th St., 6 to Astor Place, F to 2nd Ave.