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Frick Park Part 2: Clayton and the Frick Estate October 1, 2009

Posted by krbradford in Other sights.
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ClaytonBehold Clayton. Originally situated on 1.43 acres of land, it now rests on the 5 acre estate of the Frick Art & Historical Center, which consists of the restored Frick mansion, the Frick Art Museum, the Car and Carriage Museum, the Frick children’s playhouse, and the greenhouse, which grows much of the fresh produce for the cafe which is also on site. This mansion was originally an 11-room Italianate home that the Frick family purchased for $25,000 in 1883. As the family grew, the house grew to the full 23 rooms that visitors see today.

The Frick family left the house for New York in 1905, but Helen ClayHelen's bedroom at Clayton Frick owned the house until she died in 1984. At that time it was restored and opened to the public as a museum in 1990. Amazingly, 93% of the artifacts in the house are original, including fine details like the bed linens and all the mirrors, which have never been re-silvered.

We toured the house on Tuesday, and though it’s not the biggest house, the opulence is truly breathtaking. Most of the rooms are decorated en suite, so that all the woodwork, fabrics, paint, and decor are perfectly matched and in harmony with one another. The house is full of priceless artwork, beautiful carpets, ornate friezes and wood carving, high-quality furniture, gorgeous china sets… and anything else ornate and opulent you can think of. It’s really fortunate that Helen Frick left all this wealth and beauty for people to enjoy.

The Frick parlorClayton is also home to one of the few remaining orchestrions in the world. An orchestrion resembles a pipe organ, but it is designed to replicate the sound of an entire orchestra playing right in your own home. Apparently the Frick orchestrion was a favorite among Henry Clay Frick’s possessions, and he loved to play it for his dinner guests.

Unfortunately, visitors are not allowed to photograph the interior of the Frick mansion, so I’ve included a few of the photos I’ve been able to find on the internet. You may also enjoy visiting the 360 panorama of the library and sitting room on the second floor of the house.

Look for my upcoming post on Frick Park, the wilderness in the middle of the city.


Frick Park Part 1: The beautiful benefactress. September 29, 2009

Posted by krbradford in Other sights.
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Portrait of Helen Clay Frick

Part 1 in a series about Frick Park, past and present

I don’t know why history textbooks don’t talk more about the Frick family and their role in American history. The names Andrew Mellon and Andrew Carnegie, who also called Pittsburgh home around the turn of the 20th century, are covered in almost every history of American big business, but the Frick family often is not, despite their important role. Henry Clay Frick, the patron of this important family, was involved in coke (a fuel produced from coal) and steel production. Pittsburgh being the US hub of coal and steel output at that time, Frick and his family settled on Millionaire’s Row in Pittsburgh (present-day Penn Avenue in Point Breeze). H.C. Frick married Adelaide Childs, and together they had four children: Childs, Martha, Helen, and H.C. Jr. Martha died as a young girl, and Childs and H.C. Jr. went on to lead relatively normal lives. Helen, who is represented in the painting above, lived an extraordinary life as a single woman, philanthropist, and eventual Pittsburgh hero.

After the Frick family had firmly established its fortune, they relocated to New York City. By this time, Helen was 17 and firmly rooted in Pittsburgh. She would come back to Pittsburgh for her society debut, always maintained a permanent address in Pittsburgh, and came back to Pittsburgh for the last four years of her life. She loved Pittsburgh and never stopped considering it her home.

It was no secret that Helen was her father’s favorite, and when he died in 1919 wheHelen & Adelaide Frickn she was 31, Helen inherited $38 million, making her the richest single woman in the US. Helen, who was beautiful but well-known for having a feisty temperament, chose to remain unmarried. Instead, she became Western Pennsylvania’s leading benefactress. She was passionate about art and an avid collector of artwork, so she established the University of Pittsburgh Fine Arts Department, two art history libraries, and acquired numerous major works of art which now comprise the Frick Collection in New York and the Frick Art Museum in Pittsburgh. Her other contributions include: a vacation home for young female textile workers, two wildlife preserves, a public wilderness park in Pittsburgh called Frick Park, and Clayton, the Frick family home in Pittsburgh which now serves as a Victorian-era house museum (which I just toured today…details forthcoming). If you follow my blog, you’ll also be interested to learn that she was instrumental in the donation of land for the Cathedral of Learning.

Frick Park MapPittsburghers love Helen Clay Frick, and it’s not hard to see why. Given the choice between Pittsburgh and glamorous New York City, she always clearly preferred Pittsburgh. She donated much of her time, money, and influence to better the city, and nowadays when people visit Frick Park, the second-largest urban park in America, to escape to the dense green wildness and tree-lined pathways, they can thank Helen.

Helen died in 1984 at the age of 96. At the time of her death, she donated nearly all of her property to posterity, including her family’s Pittsburgh home and furnishings, as well as a priceless art collection. After a multi-million dollar renovation and years of hard work, Clayton has been restored to its original splendor and can be enjoyed by the public. I went on the tour today and look forward to sharing my experience with you in tomorrow’s post. After that, you can look forward to sharing some of my Frick Park experiences.

The G-20 comes to Pittsburgh this week. Look here for real-time updates on protests, performances, and more. September 22, 2009

Posted by krbradford in Other sights, Public art.
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G-20... a good idea?I plan to update this post with information regarding the activities centered around the G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh this week. Check back here as I add links, videos, and photos about the noteworthy things going on in Pittsburgh as the week progresses.

The Guardian’s live updates on what’s happening on the ground in Pittsburgh for the G-20

BBC World News America: Video on Pittsburgh’s G20

Dramatic photos of a Greenpeace banner hung from the West End bridge

Time Magazine: Why Pittsburgh?

One.org – see the mural they are painting downtown to draw attention to the need for African aid


Bomb squad called about suspicious item in Shadyside

WDUQ documents G20 on Flickr

G20Buzz.com keeps up to date on tweets and Flickr photos about the G20

Point Park University students give flash mob dance performances downtown

Reuters G20 coverage

Radio France International covers the G20 in Pittsburgh

Protests slideshow

List of Pittsburgh closures for G20 (it’ll blow your mind)

Approved G-20 demonstrations

Remember my post  on 109-115 Wood Street? Check out their G20 protest preparations:

115 Wood Street boards up for G20