Judging by the name, the Merchant’s House Museum doesn’t sound nearly as scary as “Blood Manor” or “Killers” – two local “Haunted Attractions.” But the difference is that the Merchant’s House – located right on campus on W 4th st. – claims to have actual paranormal activity, whereas the others use actors and fake blood to scare the guts out of its guests.
The Merchant’s House Museum doesn’t use blood or fake chainsaws to create a chilling effect during their ghost tours. In fact, the docents and historians are pleasant ladies in their 70s and 80s, and light up when responding to questions about the (supposedly haunted) house.
The museum is actually New York City’s only family home preserved intact from the 19th century. It was built in 1832 and was home to a merchant family – the Tredwells – for almost 100 years. Thus, seven people have reportedly died in the Merchant’s House. So every October, the employees decorate the museum to reflect what it would have looked like during a period of mourning, which was very common in the 19th century.
The most notorious death in the house was of Gertrude Tredwell, a 93-year-old recluse. Some museum employees still believe she lurks around the house.
Anthony Bellov, a Merchant’s House board member, told NYU Local some bone-chilling stories about Gertrude over the phone:
On a Sunday evening in the early 1980s, Bellov was checking for visitors before he locked up the house for the night. While alone on the third floor, he first noticed both bedrooms looked normal. After locking the first bedroom up, he made his way to the master bedroom, which belonged to the late Gertrude Tredwell. While walking through the passageway, he realized Gertrude’s bedroom door was suddenly closed, among other things.
“It didn’t occur to me as odd, that the door leading to Ms. Tredwell’s bedroom was closed, and as I opened it, I literally stopped in my tracks because 45 seconds or a minute before, all the windows had been wide open so that air could circulate,” Bellov said. “And when I stepped into the room, it was completely dark, the windows were closed, the shutters were drawn and bolted, the door to the hallway which I had glanced at a moment before was shut, and the lights were turned off.”
“I literally broke out in a cold sweat and said, ‘Thank you Gertrude’ because I guess she was trying to help, and I dashed down the stairs, grabbed my things and I was out of there so fast – I must have set a new Olympic record,” he said.
He also told NYU Local another story, in which the teacups and saucers were mysteriously rearranged a few minutes after he left the dining room for a phone call.
“It was really funny because in fact, the way it had been rearranged, it looked better than the way I had it,” Bellov said.
For some possibly similar experiences, the museum’s ghost tours are being held at the end of the month. Guests will be escorted throughout the house while being shown eerie photos taken from each room, or play audio recordings from paranormal investigator reports. Buy tickets in advance, though, because they sell out fast.
Happy early Halloween y’all.
Photos by Nick Reale
The Merchant’s House Museum is located at 29 East Fourth Street, between Lafayette St. and the Bowery.