Faculty Field Trip: Clayton (The Frick Family Home)

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FrickMansionClayton

Leepaxton at en.wikipedia [CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0), GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)

Yesterday Deb and I took another faculty field trip.  We chose to tour Clayton, the Pittsburgh home of the Henry Clay Frick family.  The Clayton tour is just one of many offerings from the Frick Art and Historical Center. The partnership between Henry Clay Frick and Andrew Carnegie resulted in their both amassing huge fortunes and power as they dominated the steel industry at the turn of the twentieth century.  Their legacy lives on and today you’d be hard pressed to find a  Pittsburgh-er who doesn’t know the names Frick and Carnegie.

This was my first visit to the Frick home and of course the tour was amazing!  I was mesmerized by both the extravagance and the craftsmanship of the home.  Everywhere you look, floor to ceiling, there is something beautiful or interesting to see.  Henry Frick was an art collector, so aesthetics and attention to detail in the construction and decorating of the house were paramount.  I marveled at the craftsmanship, finishing, and sheer amount of the woodwork.  You wouldn’t think one could appreciate the door in Henry’s bedroom as much as the Monet in their sitting room, but I did.  Yet, for all of their opulence, the Fricks were also devoted parents who doted on their children.  This magnificent building feels warm and welcoming and there are pictures of the children in nearly every room.

Our tour guide was Cassie and if you visit the Frick I hope you have the pleasure of having her guide you.  She was not only extremely knowledgeable, but very enthusiastic as well. The only part of her tour that I didn’t like was the part where she said we had to leave our cell phones.  Not that I’m on my phone all the time, but I rely on it to keep notes.  There were so many things that she talked about that I wanted to write down, but I didn’t have the app for that.  Lesson one learned… invest in a small notebook and have a writing implement on faculty field trips.

While we’re on lessons learned here’s another.  Homework should be done before the field trip.  I should have know better.  In graduate school I read Out Of This Furnace by Thomas Bell.  So, somewhere in the dark recesses of my mind I know the story of Frick and Carnegie and the steel mills and the strikes… but that was many books ago.  I should have at least checked out the Frick website and read the history before I went.  If I had I might not be sitting here now wishing I had had a pencil (see lesson one.) Had I explored the website first I also would have also realized that the Frick offers many educational opportunities and resources for both students and teachers, including lessons, professional development, and this video tour of the home:

If you have the opportunity, take the time to visit Clayton and see how the other half lived.

Oh… and don’t forget to get dessert at the cafe!

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