The Merchant’s House Museum in New York is reported to be haunted by the family ghosts. This Halloween week, from Oct. 24-31, visitors will have an opportunity to see why the museum has been described by the New York Times as “Manhattan’s most haunted house.” Guests can tour the 19th-century family home by candlelight, join a psychic as she walks through the halls describing her experiences and attend an 1865 funeral. On Halloween night, visitors are treated to an evening of dramatic readings from gothic literature and ghost stories about the house. All these events relate to the Tredwell family who owned and lived in the house for almost 100 years.
Seabury Tredwell came to New York City when he was 18 after having grown-up in a prominent family on Long Island. By age 34, he was in the hardware business for himself. He married the daughter of his landlady in 1820 — he was 40 years old, she was 23. They had a total of eight children.
The cholera epidemic of 1832 prompted many New Yorkers to spend the summer outside of the city. This was a common practice for the upper classes anyway, but during the epidemic that resulted in close to 4,000 deaths, the weekend and summer getaways to the country took on a more urgent need. Wealthy businessmen kept their city home near their office and had their country estate farther north. Popular locations were often the rolling hills of Manhattan, upstate New York or across the Hudson in New Jersey. Tredwell bought 700 acres in Rumson, New Jersey, and added an additional 150 acres the following year. It had everything from forests to shoreline, a large working farm, a tenant farmer’s house, an oyster pond and a colonial farm house.
A new row house was also being built in 1832 in the Bond Street area of the city, a wealthy residential suburb at 29 East Fourth Street. This brick and marble home was purchased by Tredwell in 1835. His youngest child, Gertrude, was born there in 1840 and would later play a significant role in preserving the home. Tredwell died in his bed in 1865, near the end of the Civil War. All totaled, eight family members died in the house. Gertrude Tredwell was the last one. She died in 1933 in the upstairs front bedroom at the age of 93. Though she was facing poverty in her later years, she had kept the house, its original furnishings and belongings of a wealthy, 19th-century merchant family intact.
The house opened as a museum in 1936 and is known as one of the finest examples of architecture of its time. It focuses on the family, their four Irish servants and the growing City of New York from 1835 to 1865. It is on the National Register of Historic Places and listed as a designated New York landmark.
Some say that Gertrude is still watching over the house. Whether a visitor believes the museum is haunted or not, employees, volunteers and guests have had experiences that range from sudden rushes of cold air to clocks that were not ticking suddenly start working. The stories include shadows, smells and sounds which have been investigated for years by psychics and paranormal researchers. For more information about visiting this New York museum and its family ghosts during Halloween, please click on the link below that says event schedule.
Written by: Cynthia Collins