Miracle on Fourth Street:
85 Years as a Museum


On May 11, 1936 – 85 years ago – the Merchant’s House officially opened its doors to the public as a museum. The founder, George Chapman, exclaimed:

“Here in Fourth Street stands a house that is really Old New York itself! You can mount its marble steps and ring its bell, and be carried back to the 1830s, into the life of the Seabury Tredwell family, who lived here for almost a hundred years … The whole house whispers of their lives. Everything you see was theirs, nothing has been added. It is an authentic picture of a merchant prince’s life, who helped to make New York the greatest city in the world today.”

For the last 85 years, the Merchant’s House Museum has carried on the legacy of its founder: preserving the house and its original collection, and sharing the story of a wealthy merchant family in mid-19th century New York with thousands of visitors each year.

This exhibition traces the museum’s 85-year history, from the struggle of the museum’s founder to realize his quixotic vision, to the dedication of a group of professional woman committed to reclaiming the beauty of the house’s original furnishings, to the critical intervention of an architect who devoted his life to an authentic structural restoration, to today’s ongoing struggle to protect the house from what could be catastrophic damage from construction of the proposed seven-story building next door.


Miracle on Fourth Street: 85 Years as a Museum




..The Early Years..

..Mid-Century Changes..

..An Architect Steps In..

..The ’90s to Today..

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