2. The House Hasn’t Changed Much Since the 1800s

Courtesy of the Merchant’s House Museum, Photograph by Annie Schlechter

When Gertrude Tredwell died in 1933, all of the home’s original 19th-century furniture, decorative arts, and personal possessions were left largely untouched. Her niece and heir, Lillie Nichols, planned to sell the house and its contents at auction, but another family member, distant cousin George Chapman, saw the value of keeping everything together as a historic record. He was able to purchase the house and establish a non-profit to run it.

The home was turned into a museum in 1936, just three years after Gertrude’s death. The Museum’s collection features a whopping 4, 5000 objects that originally belonged to the family, from furnishings, decorations, and lighting devices, to personal accessories, family photographs, books, and works of art. In the 1960s, the home was restored by The Decorators Club and New York University Architect Joseph Roberto. Wherever possible, they used original materials, restored and reinstalled original furniture and personal belongings, and put up reproductions of the original draperies and carpet. All of these pieces put together provide an authentic portrayal of what life was like for a merchant-class family in 19th-century New York.