In 1913, construction began on Henry Frick's New York mansion at 70th Street and Fifth Avenue. The house he erected cost nearly five million dollars, including the amount paid for the land. The firm of Carrère and Hastings designed the house to accommodate Mr. Frick's paintings and other art objects. Even the earliest plans for the residence take into account Mr. Frick's intention to leave his house and his art collection to the public, as he knew the Marquess of Hertford had done with his London mansion and comparable collection some years earlier.
Mr. Frick changed the arrangements of the rooms as he acquired new works to fill the house. Further alterations were made after his death whenever appropriate, with the single exception of the Living Hall, where the arrangement has remained nearly unchanged for seventy-six years.
Mr. Frick died in 1919. In his will, he left the house and all of the works of art in it together with the furnishings ("subject to occupancy by Mrs. Frick during her lifetime") to become a gallery called The Frick Collection. He provided an endowment of $15,000,000 to be used for the maintenance of the Collection and for improvements and additions.
After Mrs. Frick's death in 1931, family and trustees of The Frick Collection began the transformation of the Fifth Avenue residence into a museum. Under the direction of The Frick Collection Organizing Director, Frederick Mortimer Clapp, construction and renovation at the Collection began. The Trustees commissioned John Russell Pope to make additions to the original house, including two galleries (the Oval Room and East Gallery), a combination lecture hall and music room, and the enclosed Garden Court. In December 1935 The Frick Collection opened to the public. In 1977, a garden on Seventieth Street, to the east of the Collection, was designed by Russell Page, to be seen from the street and from the pavilion added at the same time to accommodate increasing attendance at the museum. This new Reception Hall was designed by Harry van Dyke, John Barrington Bayley, and G. Frederick Poehler. Two additional galleries were opened on the lower level of the pavilion to house temporary exhibitions.