New York Architecture Images-Upper East Side

Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden formerly the Abigail Adams Smith Museum




421 E61, bet. First and York Aves.








Carriagehouse, Hotel, Museum



One of only 750 Museums nationwide to be accredited by the American Association of Museums, the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden presents the period of the Mount Vernon Hotel (1826-1833). Constructed in 1799 as a carriage house for a 23-acre estate, and converted into the Mount Vernon Hotel in 1826, this stone building sits on land originally owned by Colonel William Stevens Smith, and his wife Abigail Adams Smith, daughter of John Adams. 

This fashionable country resort was popular among New Yorkers who wished to escape the hustle and bustle of the city which at that time extended only as far north as 14th Street. The Hotel advertised itself as “free from the noise and dust of the public roads, and fitted up and intended for only the most genteel and respectable” clientele. In those days, one could take the stagecoach or steamboat up to 61st street and spend the day at the hotel sipping lemonade in the ladies parlor or playing cards in the gentlemen’s tavern.

In 1833, the house became the home for three generations of a New York City family. In 1905, as the area became more industrialized, the building was purchased by Standard Gas Light Company (today’s Con Edison).  The Colonial Dames of America, a woman’s patriotic society purchased the building in 1924. After extensive restoration to the structure, the Colonial Dames opened the site to the public in 1939.  The building endures as a rare reminder of an important era in New York City’s history.


The Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden transports the visitor back to the days when midtown Manhattan was a country escape for New Yorkers living in the crowded city at the southern tip of the island. New York City's only surviving day hotel, this unique museum brings this bygone era of old New York alive for children and adults alike. The Museum has a fine collection of American furniture and decorative arts, costumes, quilts and textiles, and works on paper including early American and New York City historical archives and documents.

History of the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden

In 1795, William Stephens Smith and his wife Abigail Adams Smith purchased 23 acres on Manhattan's Upper East Side on which they began to build a grand estate which they named "Mount Vernon" in honor of George Washington's home in Virginia. Unfortunately, the Smiths had financial difficulties, and were forced to sell the unfinished property in 1796. In 1799 William T. Robinson, a successful china trade merchant completed the main house, and the stone carriage house, which is now the site of the Museum. In 1826, when the main house burned to the ground, the carriage house was converted into an elegant day resort called the "Mount Vernon Hotel", which operated there until 1833.

Sixty years ago, the doors of 421 East 61st Street were opened to the public for the first time as the Abigail Adams Smith House, and in keeping with current fashion and scholarship of the day, it was installed as a federal period mansion. In 1983, the Abigail Adams Smith Museum was accredited by the American Association of Museums. At this time the Colonial Dames of America began to reevaluate the museum's installation, and in 1988, after years of careful research and planning, and in keeping with current scholarship and museum standards, the Board of Managers approved the new Mission Statement for the Museum, providing for its reinterpretation as the 1826-1833 Mount Vernon Hotel.

A Challenge Grant and an Implementation Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities funded the long process of research and reinstallation of the Museum to accomplish this reinterpretation. We are now at the end of the reinstallation process, and the Museum has taken the final step by changing its name to reflect its mission. The name Abigail Adams Smith intended for the site, and the name that it, and the neighborhood, had been known by for most of the nineteenth century has been returned to it: "Mount Vernon." Effective January 6, 2000, the Board of Managers of the Colonial Dames of America voted to change the Museum's name to the "Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden"

The Museum's new second-floor orientation center has been named in Abigail Adams Smith's honor. In "The Abigail Adams Smith Orientation Center" visitors learn of the Smiths' original plans for the site and the history of the neighborhood, view a scale model of the original carriage house, and enjoy the Museum's new video about New York City in the 1820's and 30's.

The MVHM is encouraging the surrounding neighborhood to once again call itself "Mount Vernon", as it was called, up until the beginning of the 20th century. The neighborhood bounded by 62nd street on the north, 59th street on the south, 2nd Avenue on the west and the river on the east comprises the original 23½ acre estate owned by the Smiths, and is referred to as "Mount Vernon" on 19th century New York City maps, and in many 19th century newspaper articles and advertisements.

The Museum's extraordinary history of survival and adaptive reuse in an increasingly urban setting is deeply interwoven within the city's history and that of its surrounding neighborhood. The Museum offers a wide variety of educational and public programs to its audience, which consist of the general public, tourists, school groups, seniors and families. Intimate guided tours of the Museum's nine period rooms representing the circa 1830 Mount Vernon Hotel, and its ongoing small interpretive exhibits make a visit to the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum an enriching experience for each of its visitors.


Discover one of the seven oldest buildings in Manhattan and one of New York City’s hidden treasures!

Step back in time and take a guided tour through our eight fully furnished period rooms and our beautiful garden or join us for one of our unique public programs.  Constructed in 1799 as a carriage house and converted into a hotel in 1826, the Museum transports the visitor back to the Mount Vernon Hotel, a country escape for New Yorkers living in the crowded city at the southern tip of Manhattan.

“Well, I’d passed it a hundred times it seems before I ever went in. A small little stone house with a cute front porch and flowers lining the walk; I always figured it was a private home. Luckily for New York, it isn’t.  The Mount Vernon Hotel Museum, formerly known as the Abigail Adams Smith Museum, is one of the nicest treasures I’ve ever come across in all my years in the city.  The whole house is a reinterpretation of the Mount Vernon Hotel, which operated in this building back in the 1820’s and 30’s. As you learn on the tour, lots of fashionable people stopped by, ate turtle soup and swam in the East River for fun and refreshment.  (Now you know it’s old)!  The rooms are beautiful, the docents friendly and the garden is heavenly. And it’s odd to think that when the Hotel was operating, 14th Street was the top of the city and the hotel was 4 miles out and hidden in the country. Now, it’s still hidden and it’s only 3 blocks from Bloomingdale’s.  That’s New York for you.”

From “City Secrets: New York City"

Subway Directions
4,5,6,N,R to 59th St.
B,Q to 63rd St.

Monday: closed
Tues - Sun: 11am-4pm
Tues until 9pm in June and July

$4.00 adults
$3.00 seniors and students
Free for children under twelve and museum friends



Owned and maintained by
The Colonial Dames of America