Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas at The Frick

If I had to limit myself to seeing one attraction in Pittsburgh, it's Clayton, the former Henry Clay Frick house located on Penn Avenue in Point Breeze. Frick, the well known (some might say notorious) coke and steel magnate (and partner of Andrew Carnegie) from the great robber baron days of the late 19th century, lived at Clayton from the 1880's (when he had the house built) until moving to New York in the early 1900s. His daughter Helen Clay Frick later occupied the house, and lived there until she died at the age of 96 in 1984. At that time she bequethed the house as a museum, and after years of fundraising and restoration, Clayton opened to the public.

The remarkable thing about Clayton is that walking into the mansion is like walking back in time. A spinster, Helen Frick left most of the house (and much of the furnishings) intact, and thus the house appears today almost exactly as it did when Henry Frick and family occupied it in the late 1800's. It is rare to encounter a space with such a provenance, and such a direct connection to the ever more distant past.

Clayton also features a wonderful art museum on the grounds, a display of antique automobiles, and a top rated restaurant, the Cafe at the Frick, which is open for lunch and tea Tuesdays through Sundays.

The mansion is painstakingly decorated for Christmas every year, and is open for Holiday tours until early January. This is you one place to stop in Pittsburgh if you've only got time for one!

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