Like so many places across the country, the past several months have been challenging and unpredictable for our community. That’s why we wanted to do something special to spotlight the amazing people that make up our unique district.
Faces Of East Midtown is photo and interview series aimed at celebrating the humanity of our neighborhood and providing a real, raw and honest look at the faces behind the locally-owned businesses that have gone through unimaginable changes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
October 22, 2020
Photography by Ron Jautz, Jautz Photography
East Midtown Partnership: Tell us about your place of work. What is the vision and overall mission? How long have you been working there?
Terri Daly: The Mount Vernon Hotel Museum building was constructed in 1799, making it one of the few 18th-century buildings in Manhattan. It is also the only surviving “day hotel,” essentially a country resort popular in the early 1800s for middle class New Yorkers. Today the Museum’s mission is to educate the community about life in 19th-century New York through tours, exhibits, workshops, lectures, and school programs. I am honored to have just marked 17 years with the Museum, first as a volunteer and for the past five years as the Director.
EMP: Give us an overview of what things have been like for you and your staff during the Covid-19 lockdown.
TD: Immediately after we closed our doors, with staff working from home, we began converting our programs to virtual experiences, so for the first few months we were operating at a frenetic pace to offer schools remote field trips, launch our first online exhibit, and try to continue all of our public programming for the community. Now, with restrictions ongoing, we have been forced to reduce staff, and for all of us, it is a little sad to not be able to share our beloved museum in-person with visitors.
EMP: After being shuttered for months, several more businesses are slowly starting to reopen in the district. What does that mean to you? Has your business reopened?
TD: Although we have not yet reopened our building to the public, to some extent, the Museum never closed. We continue to offer virtual programs and tours, and we are now offering an in-person, socially distanced Historic Neighborhood Walking Tour. As I lead these tours, it is thrilling to see the district coming alive as more businesses reopen.
EMP: What's one thing you've either learned, grown to appreciate or adjusted in your business practices moving forward as a result of the pandemic?
TD: It has been nice to welcome people to our virtual events who have not been able to previously visit the Museum either because of time or distance, so we now appreciate how technology can help us reach new audiences.
EMP: What is your hope for the future of your industry in the city in the coming months?
TD: Both locals and tourists love the City’s arts and cultural organizations. Although it will take some time, tourism will definitely rebound, and until that time, I know that we can all count on New Yorkers to support us.
EMP: Any other thoughts you want people to know as they venture out into the neighborhood?
TD: I hope everyone realizes the positive impact they can have on our neighborhood, even with small gestures. Purchases, donations, or spreading the word about a favorite place will help all of us during this challenging time.