Must-See East Village
by Julie Besonen, 02/08/2012
St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery. Photo: Massmatt (via Flickr)
The East Village has gone through waves of development over the centuries, so it's lucky that some significant historic sites continue to tell tales of the past. These include the Merchant's House Museum, built in 1832. This elegant, Federal-style brick home was occupied by a rich merchant's family for almost 100 years, and one of the spinster daughters was rumored to be the inspiration for Henry James's shy heiress in Washington Square. Though the author's connection to the family is doubtful, the imagination runs to the romantic when viewing the plush original furnishings and apprehending the formalities of 19th-century society. The gift shop is worth perusing since donations to the museum, from minor trinkets to china and silver, are for sale. Check merchantshouse.org for operating hours as well as for the museum's occasional concerts, lectures and candlelight ghost tours. St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery, consecrated in 1799, can feel ghostly at night when roaming its undulating burial grounds. Combining Georgian-style architecture with an Italianate portico, the house of worship was originally Episcopalian and today is rooted in Anglican tradition, following the Book of Common Prayer. In addition to services, the church runs outreach programs and nights devoted to dance, poetry and theater, making it a dynamic part of the community and a vital artistic center.