Save the Merchant’s House


30 Seconds to SAVE the Merchant’s House!

In December, after a 12-year battle, the Landmarks Preservation Commission recklessly approved a development next door to the Merchant’s House Museum that is guaranteed to cause irreparable damage to our fragile 192-year-old landmark building.

  • SEND a LETTER to City Hall to demand they SAVE the Merchant’s House! Our easy-peasy form letter takes just 30 seconds to send.
  • SPREAD the Word! Ask your friends and colleagues to help. Post on Instagram, Facebook, X. And tag us @merchantshouse!

The 1832 Merchant’s House is indisputably one of the City’s most significant and beloved  landmarks (Manhattan’s first!). The LPC’s decision continues a disturbing trend of jeopardizing the historic treasures it exists to protect. If this can happen to the Merchant’s House – Manhattan’s first landmark! – then no historic building is safe.

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The LPC’s Decision to Approve Was A Stunning Betrayal

In recent years, the city’s LPC has catered to developers’ interests; 16 historic sites and  landmarked buildings have been destroyed or damaged under their watch. If the Merchant’s House – the very first building designated a landmark in Manhattan, in 1965 – is at risk, no historic building is safe.

Since 2012, the Merchant’s House has been fighting to protect our 1832 landmark building from construction next door, to the west, at 27 East 4th Street. Currently it is a one-story garage.

Preservation architects and engineers have analyzed the proposed plans and determined that irreversible damage to the Merchant’s House is guaranteed. The worst case scenario is very possible: damage to the museum could be catastrophic (i.e., complete collapse).

At particular risk is our original and landmarked 19th century ornate decorative plaster work (considered the finest surviving from the period) as well as the plaster walls and ceilings. The original, 1832 plaster is extremely fragile. Vibrations from construction next door could cause it literally to come crumbling down.

At the LPC meeting on December 12, when asked, the developer’s engineers admitted that they have no data about what standards are appropriate when dealing with historic decorative plaster. Thus, approval is contingent upon the developer hiring a plaster expert (of their choosing!). The commissioners appeared to have had no knowledge of the plaster study we undertook in 2014.

The LPC also mandated that certain protocols relating to vibration monitoring be established. As we know from experience, even the most state-of-the-art vibration monitoring systems only announce when the vibration limit has been reached. The damage will have already begun.

To date, we have spent almost $1 million on legal and engineering fees, funds that could – and should – have gone to fulfilling our mission: preserving our landmark building, caring for our original collections, and educating the public.

If the construction next door is allowed to proceed, the Merchant’s House will be forced to close its doors to the public for at least two years to safeguard the collection and secure the building. The estimated cost is $5 million.


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