The “Finest Surviving”
“The decorative plasterwork in the Merchant’s House is the finest surviving
late-Federal/Greek Revival ornamentation in New York City. Period.”
– David Flaharty, sculptor and ornamental plasterer
The recessed centers of the matching pair of ceiling medallions in the first floor double parlor are rare. Recessed medallions required a more complex framing structure in the ceiling joists than medallions that were flush with a flat ceiling. Over the years, the substantial framing structure has given the parlor medallions greater stability than non-recessed medallions. In the 1850s, the Tredwells installed gas lighting in the house, a major renovation that likely required pulling up floor boards to install gas pipes throughout the house. The ornate ceiling medallions remained intact, a testament to the artisans that created them.
In the 1970s, the Merchant’s House underwent a top-to-bottom interior restoration, which included the original 1832 plasterwork. Sculptor David Flaharty made repairs to areas of damaged plaster and, just as the 19th century artisans had done, created molds of fragments to cast new pieces. Flaharty’s modern molds and plaster casts, and the few original plaster fragments too damaged to be reinstalled, are now part of the museum’s collection. All 205 elements have been photographed, cataloged, and stored in archival boxes. They are available to conservators and scholars for study.