In your own backyard (Dec. 11)

The Frick is a building that I used to pass almost every day depending on which way I went to work. I’m talking about the mansion at the corner of Homewood and Penn avenues. I have attended Fridays at the Frick in the summer and also several events at the Frick Art Museum but I never took a tour of Clayton. After seeing a pop up on Facebook about holiday tours of Clayton I decided I would go.

I love to tour houses, old and new. The tour of Clayton is a docent-led tour and our docent has been working at the Frick for nearly 20 years. She is a former teacher and was very knowledgeable about the property. I started to take my camera but since I was not working I decided against it. I’m glad that I didn’t take it as photography is not permitted in Clayton. The home you will tour was the home of the Henry Clay Frick family from 1882–1905. This meticulously restored 23-room mansion features an impressive array of fine and decorative art objects purchased by the Fricks.

The tours of the home provide an inside view of daily life at the turn of the 20th century and a better understanding of Pittsburgh during the Gilded Age. The first level of the house is decorated for Christmas and is absolutely beautiful. I don’t want you to think the decorations are over the top because they are not but stunning nonetheless. Each room has a beautiful fireplace and the home is full of original items like china and silver service sets. There are two rooms with beautiful colors. Most things cannot be touched and you cannot sit on the furniture. However there are laminated Christmas cards and newspaper articles to read. I really enjoyed myself.

All of this right at the edge of Homewood. When I was standing on the porch of Clayton I could look across the street and see a house where I used to get my hair done. Also on the grounds is the children’s playhouse which I am told houses a bowling alley. There is a café, a greenhouse, the Frick Museum of Art and The Car and Carriage Museum. In the car museum you can see many of the vehicles that were owned by the Frick family. There is only one car that you can get in and take pictures. But the car is so small that you have to squeeze in it. If you are much larger than me you will be out of luck.

At the turn of the 20th century, the development of the automobile profoundly changed American life. In the Car and Carriage Museum, visitors can travel back to the time of carriages, see some of the first horseless carriages to have an impact on Pittsburgh, and learn about Pittsburgh’s role in the developing automobile industry.

The story of the Frick family is a very interesting one, you will learn a lot during the tour. Make sure you visit the gift shop. Reservations are strongly recommended, $13 for seniors.

by Debbie Norrell, Lifestyles Editor


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