Pokémon Go players welcomed by New York’s oldest townhouse and first ever landmark

The museum, built in 1832, has entered a new age


Rachael Revesz
New York
Tuesday 19 July 2016 15:38 BST
Learn about how servants used to live in old New York whilst playing the game
Learn about how servants used to live in old New York whilst playing the game (MHM)

The oldest restored townhouse and first ever landmark in New York City is determined to preserve its past whilst getting with the times.

The Merchant House Museum, built in 1832 and celebrating 80 years as a museum in 2016, has has been marked as a “place of interest” by the game makers of Pokémon Go and invites players to tour the house and catch Pokémon characters.

Several characters can be found in the old servants’ quarter in the attic.

These rooms used to host a roster of younger Irish women who spent their days cooking for the Tredwell family, carrying buckets of coal up and down the stairs and generally keeping the townhouse immaculate for the family and their guests.

The servants’ quarters under the roof is the latest part of the house to be restored in 2012 after lying empty and out of bounds to visitors for decades.

Little is known of the servants, except their names, ages and how they worked at the house.

“Before, we were only telling half the story. Without these four girls the Tredwell family could not have lived the lifestyle they had,” Margaret Gardiner, executive director, told The Independent earlier this year.


Gertrude Tredwell was the last member of the Tredwell family to live in the house on East 4th street. She outlived the family’s fortunes and died at the age of 93 in relative poverty in the 1930s.

"The Museum is always looking for ways to engage with new audiences," explained museum spokeswoman Emily Wright in a statement.


"If Pokémon Go helps people discover the Merchant's House, we're all in favor (although we're sure Gertrude Tredwell would be puzzled!)"

While in the museum, gamers can see the current exhibition of 19th century dressing-gowns, described by Florence Hartley in the 1860 “Ladies' Book of Etiquette” as a “wrapper to fit the figure loosely”, the most “suitable” garment for non-servant women to wear between breakfast and getting dressed.

Pokémon Go, a free game on iOS and Android devices, has taken smartphone users by storm, and is luring people out of their homes in New York City and around the world on the hunt to visit “places of interest”, catch Pokémon characters and throw around Pokéballs.

Other iconic New York “places of interest” include architectural features, like intricate plasterwork and gargoyles on the Upper West Side, and the New York Times capsule that has been sealed until the year 3000 outside the American Museum of Natural History

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