Following the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825, business in the City boomed. It was the Golden Age of Trade. To escape the increasing noise, congestion, and commercialization of the seaport area, wealthy merchants and their families moved northward on the narrow island of Manhattan.
By the 1830s, “above Bleecker Street” was the place to live. Which is why on June 3, 1831, Joseph Brewster, a hatter and part-time real estate speculator, paid a cool $3,500 for the lot that would become the site of the Merchant’s House. East 4th Street was part of the Bond Street area – an exclusive residential suburb – and prices were on the rise. Brewster had purchased the adjacent lot to the east just two months before for $3,000. By year’s end, eight houses were under construction.
Brewster completed this house and its twin next door in 1832. He lived here for three years and, in November 1835, sold it to Seabury Tredwell for $18,000, making a tidy profit for himself.
You know the rest of the story. A home for 98 years and a museum for 81. And today struggling for its very survival, as it faces demolition, excavation, and construction of an eight story hotel next door. Click here for more information.