The Merchant’s House is one of the few houses built in the 19th century that are still standing in New York City. I was looking for it somewhere towards the end of October eager to experience it and cross it out my 111 places not to miss in New York City list.
The Merchant’s House belonged to a famous merchant and his family. They lived in there all their lives. On the death of the last Treadwell child, the house – whose furnishings had not been changed since the 19th century – was turned in a museum. It is like ethnography of two centuries ago, a time capsule in Downtown Manhattan.
It intrigued me that the house was said to be haunted. It almost made me not want to go in and pull out of the tour even as I was going up the stairs and knocking on the door.
One of the staff opened the door and invited me in. It seemed like I was being invited on a tour of the house of the Adams’ family. I set foot in the house and felt like I was walking down the same fictitious place, waiting for one of the Adams to come at me from behind the door or, better yet, for one of the ghosts said to be roaming the place to do the same thing.
When I got to the ticket office and paid the entrance fee, I thought that I was paying for a trip through hell.
I enjoyed the time spent in the garden, in the kitchen, and in the living room of the house. The scary part was related to experimenting the two adjacent bedrooms on the first floor. Like the rest of the house, these were set up in the style of the 19th and early 20th century retaining their original furniture and furnishings.
Customary of the time was the fact that people who passed away lay in their beds until they were ready to be buried. For this reason, the mortuary scene that had been arranged in one of the bedrooms (and which became apparent only when I turned from the first into the second bedroom), whereby a mannequin represented a dead person and another mannequin the family member who stood by the bed in mourning scared the creeps out of me and immediately pushed me down the stairs.
And out of the house.