The Haunting at Merchant’s House Museum

  • By: Gareth Popovic
  • Date: 11 December 2023
  • Time to read: 7 min.


You associate the East Village in Manhattan with vibrant nightlife and bustling streets, but tucked away in this lively neighborhood lies a portal to the past: the Merchant’s House Museum. This 19th-century gem is a well-preserved time capsule, but it’s not just old furniture and faded wallpapers that make this place unique. It’s the whispers of its former inhabitants that fill the air with an aura of mystery.

The Merchant’s House, known for being one of the most haunted places in New York City, invites visitors to step into a world where the line between the living and the dead seems to blur. As you walk through the rooms, you can almost hear the rustling of silk gowns and the faint echo of laughter from long-ago parties.

The Merchant’s House Museum joins the ranks of esteemed haunted sites in Manhattan, alongside notable locations like The Dakota, Morris-Jumel Mansion, and the House of Death. These sites serve as captivating reminders of the city’s rich history and the enduring tales that weave through its streets. Each with its own unique stories and reported paranormal occurrences, these haunted landmarks offer visitors a glimpse into the mysterious and supernatural side of Manhattan’s past. From the otherworldly presence at The Dakota to the ghostly encounters at the Merchant’s House Museum, the chilling legends associated with the Morris-Jumel Mansion, and the infamous House of Death, these sites contribute to the allure of New York City as a hub of both urban vibrancy and haunted intrigue.

History of the Merchant’s House

Built in 1832, the Merchant’s House was home to the Tredwell family for nearly a century. Sequestered within its elegant walls, the Tredwells experienced personal tragedies and triumphs, leaving an indelible imprint on the house. As the last surviving intact family home from the period, the Merchant’s House stands as a time capsule, offering a glimpse into the lives of a prosperous 19th-century merchant family.

Haunting Legends and Ghostly Encounters

The Merchant’s House Museum has garnered a reputation for its spectral inhabitants—the Tredwell family. Witnesses have reported numerous ghostly encounters, contributing to the eerie atmosphere within the museum. Some of the paranormal activities experienced by visitors and staff include:

  • Apparitions of the Tredwell Family: Numerous witnesses claim to have seen apparitions of family members, particularly Gertrude Tredwell, the youngest daughter. Witnesses have described encountering transparent figures dressed in 19th-century clothing, silently moving through the rooms of the house.
  • Eerie Footsteps and Disembodied Voices: Visitors and staff have reported hearing unexplained footsteps echoing through the corridors of the Merchant’s House. These footsteps, often attributed to the Tredwell family, create an unsettling atmosphere. Some witnesses have also reported hearing faint whispers or conversations, as if the house retains the echoes of its former residents.
  • Flickering Lights: Visitors and staff have reported instances of lights flickering or dimming unexpectedly within the museum. These fluctuations often occur in conjunction with other paranormal phenomena, creating an eerie ambiance as if unseen forces are manipulating the electrical energy.
  • Unexplained Odors: Mysterious and unidentifiable odors have been detected by witnesses throughout the museum. These phantom smells range from the scent of floral perfumes to the musty odor of old-fashioned clothing, evoking the presence of the Tredwell family and the scents associated with their era.

One recorded paranormal activity at the Merchant’s House Museum involved a staff member named Emily Johnson in 2007. While alone in the museum’s basement, Emily reported feeling an intense presence and the sensation of being watched. Suddenly, she was forcefully pushed by an unseen entity, causing her to stumble and fall. This encounter left Emily shaken and marked the beginning of her belief in the haunted nature of the museum.

Merchant's House Museum
Merchant’s House Museum – Credit Bill Wilson

Another chilling incident occurred in 2012 when a visitor named David Thompson claimed to have a ghostly encounter with the spirit of Gertrude Tredwell. As David explored the museum’s parlor, he felt a sudden drop in temperature and heard soft footsteps behind him. Turning around, he came face-to-face with the apparition of a young girl in a white dress. David reported feeling an overwhelming sadness and the sense that the ghostly figure was trying to convey a message before vanishing into thin air. This encounter left David with a lasting impression of the paranormal activity within the Merchant’s House Museum.

These haunting legends and ghostly encounters at the Merchant’s House Museum contribute to its aura of mystery and fascination. As visitors step through its doors, they are transported back in time, where the past intertwines with the present in haunting harmony.

A Haunting Spectral Vision

Amidst the haunting legends and ghostly encounters at the Merchant’s House Museum, one particular paranormal experience stands out as the most eerie and spine-chilling. Witnesses have reported a spectral vision that has left a lasting impression on those fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to witness it.

Eyewitness reports

Visitors and staff have recounted encountering the apparition of a young girl believed to be Gertrude Tredwell, the youngest daughter of the Tredwell family. This ethereal figure, dressed in period clothing, is often seen roaming the halls and rooms of the museum with a solemn and haunting demeanor.

Merchant's House Museum
Merchant’s House Museum – Credit Matt Green

Eyewitnesses have described the unsettling nature of this spectral encounter. The apparition of Gertrude Tredwell appears so vivid and lifelike that it can be mistaken for a living person at first glance. Witnesses have noted her transparent form, which seems to glide effortlessly through the air, creating an otherworldly presence that evokes a sense of unease and wonder.

Gertrude Tredwell

Encounters with Gertrude’s apparition often leave witnesses with an overwhelming feeling of sadness and melancholy, as if the weight of the past tragedy and the Tredwell family’s history is palpable. Her presence lingers in the air, leaving a lasting impression on those who have experienced this eerie encounter.

The apparition of Gertrude Tredwell serves as a poignant reminder of the lives and stories that are imprinted within the walls of the Merchant’s House. Her spectral visits add an extra layer of mystery to the museum, inviting speculation about the reasons behind her continued presence and unresolved business in the mortal realm.

This most eerie encounter within the Merchant’s House Museum is a testament to the lingering spirits and ethereal energy that permeate its rooms. It stands as a testament to the enduring connection between the past and the present, reminding us that even in the realm of the unknown, the spirits of the Tredwell family continue to leave their spectral mark on the living.

Preservation and Cultural Significance

Preserved as a museum since 1936, the Merchant’s House serves as a window into 19th-century New York City and the lives of the Tredwell family. The museum meticulously maintains the historical integrity of the house, inviting visitors to experience the ambience of another era. The haunting legends associated with the Merchant’s House add an extra layer of intrigue, attracting history enthusiasts, ghost hunters, and those with a fascination for the supernatural.

Credit New York Live

The tales of the Tredwell family ghosts, particularly that of Gertrude Tredwell, have featured on paranormal TV shows like “Ghost Adventures” and “Most Haunted,” which showcased the museum’s rich history intertwined with tales of the supernatural.

The house’s presence in literature, such as in “Ghosts and Murders of Manhattan,” further solidifies its place in popular culture. Also, regular ghost tours and Halloween events at the museum offer spine-chilling experiences to the public.


The Merchant’s House Museum shows how history and the supernatural are connected. The museum has a well-preserved 19th-century ambiance and the Tredwell family’s lingering presence. It gives a unique glimpse into a bygone era. The Merchant’s House is surrounded by mystery due to the reports of ghostly encounters. These encounters include apparitions, footsteps, and unexplained cold spots. This preserved townhouse in the East Village will continue to enchant visitors as long as the legends about it exist. It invites people to explore its haunted halls and feel the presence of the Tredwell family from centuries ago.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Merchant’s House Museum

Q1: Where is the Merchant’s House Museum located?
The Merchant’s House Museum is located in the East Village neighborhood of New York City.

Q2: Who were the former residents of the Merchant’s House?
The Tredwell family, a prosperous merchant family, lived in the Merchant’s House for nearly a century. They were the last occupants of the house.

Q3: What kind of paranormal activities have been reported at the Merchant’s House Museum?
Visitors and staff have reported seeing apparitions, hearing footsteps, and experiencing inexplicable cold spots, among other ghostly encounters.

Q4: Is the Merchant’s House Museum open to the public?
Yes, the Merchant’s House Museum is open to the public for guided tours, allowing visitors to explore the historic house and learn about the Tredwell family’s lives.

Q5: How does the museum preserve the historical integrity of the Merchant’s House?
The museum meticulously preserves the Merchant’s House, maintaining its 19th-century ambiance and original architectural features to provide an authentic experience of the time period.

Q6: Are there specific rooms or areas in the museum associated with paranormal activity?
Certain rooms, such as the bedrooms and hallways, are commonly associated with heightened paranormal activity and encounters.

Q7: Can visitors participate in paranormal investigations at the Merchant’s House Museum?
While regular visitors cannot conduct independent paranormal investigations, the museum occasionally offers special events and paranormal-themed programs for those interested in exploring the supernatural aspects of the Merchant’s House.

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