Building the House

In 1906 Frick acquired the Lenox Library building and site on Fifth Avenue between 70th and 71st Streets. Four months later, he added an additional parcel of land running some fifty feet east through the block. Due to restrictions placed on the use of the Lenox Library site, Frick could not take title of the land until 1912, when the Lenox collections were incorporated into the new Public Library at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. Henry Clay Frick's Indiana limestone mansion conceived, planned, and erected by Thomas Hastings from 1912 to 1914 was intimately connected to his ambitions as an art collector. From the very beginning, the house was intended to become a museum following the deaths of the founder and his wife, serving as a "public gallery to which the entire public shall forever have access." During their lifetime, it was to provide the setting for Frick's incomparable collection of Old Master and nineteenth-century paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts. But the house was also a home to Frick, his wife Adelaide, and his daughter Helen Clay, whose bedrooms were located on the second floor of the building, as well as some twenty-seven servants who occupied rooms on the third floor. 

Excerpted in part from: Colin B. Bailey, Building The Frick Collection: An Introduction to the House and Its CollectionsNew York: The Frick Collection in association with Scala Publishers, 2006 (available from the Museum Shop).

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