Register Now for 2020 High School Design Competition!

We are excited to present the 2020 High School Design Competition in Santa Barbara County! 

Sharpen your pencils and get your calculators ready! 

The High School Design Competition will be kicking off this year on Tuesday, March 10th at 7:30 am at the Santa Ynez Union High School or Direct Relief, Santa Barbara.

We look forward to seeing you there! 

Lingering and Sentimental Spirits in The Merchant House

A house preserved from the 19th century, ghosts included.


The Merchant House, a historic row house turned museum, stands at 29 East 4th Street and today is considered one of the best preserved federal buildings in New York City. But long before tourists walked through its Greek Revival style halls, the house was occupied by the Tredwells, a wealthy Manhattan family. The five-story brick structure was purchased by Seabury Tredwell for $18,000 in 1835. During the late 1830’s, Mr. Tredwell moved his wife and children into the Merchant House and prepared for the birth of their eighth child, the only one to be born at their new home – and the only one to never leave.

As the legend goes, the youngest Tredwell, Gertrude, grew up surrounded by all the modern luxuries, ornate décor and beautiful, lavish furnishings money could buy, many still on display at the Museum. In her twenties, Gertrude fell madly in love with a Catholic doctor named Lewis Walton. However, the Tredwells were strict, God-fearing Protestants and Seabury immediately quashed the affair, separating the couple forever and breaking poor Gertrude’s heart. While her parents died shortly thereafter, Gertrude promised to never disobey her father’s wishes, and remained unwed to any mortal soul.

In 1909, at sixty-nine years old, Gertrude was the last remaining Tredwell and the House’s only occupant. She was largely considered a recluse and a spinster, wholly and faithfully committed to keeping her home in the same exact manner as it was kept during her childhood. She proceeded through life alone, barren of friends, family or romance, the house her only partner. When she finally died in 1933, Gertrude left the Merchant House in pristine period condition, making the project a quick transition from living quarters to public museum.

According to The Big Book of New York Ghost Stories, Gertrude’s spirit has been glimpsed many times lingering about the old mansion. There are countless reports of a Gertrude’s ghastly figure gliding up the stairs and through the halls, refusing to abandon her perfect home even years after her demise. Clear notes coming from the House’s broken piano have allegedly been heard streaming from the parlor window and onto the street for passersby to enjoy, even when the museum was locked and empty. Teacups have been known to uproot themselves from the shelves and scatter about the kitchen and dining room. And a cool breeze emanates throughout the upstairs room where Gertrude last laid her head.

The Schenck Mansion Lingering Residents

One of Indiana’s most outstanding examples of the Second Empire style, the Schenck Mansion is individually listed in the National Register of Historic Places. “The house on the hill” is located in the beautiful Ohio River town of Vevay. Built by Benjamin Franklin Schenck, son of a fabulously wealthy “hay king” of the steamboat era, this palatial mansion was the marvel of its time with its four storied tower, thirty-five rooms from basement to attic and five baths. This house was built in 1874 at a total cost of $67,000. Its four-story tower with a mansard roof measuring 74 feet tall, bay windows, high ceilings and spacious rooms are characteristic of the architecture of the time. The architect of record was George P. Humphries of Cincinnati. Amazingly, the original architect’s plans have remained with the mansion.

In November 1874, on account of failing health, he and his family spent the winter and spring in Florida. He was able to spend the next two summers in his newly finished mansion in Vevay, but returned to Jacksonville, Florida where he died in April of 1877 at the age of 42. Mr. Schenck died before his palatial home was finished. Mrs. Celestine Schenck lived in the mansion intermittently until her death in December 1885. A ghostly lady in white Victorian dress haunts the second floor. She is said to walk the hallways, taking no notice of anyone around her. Guests also have reported hearing voices, footsteps, and something moving in their rooms at night.