Greenhouse Preservation Effort

The Frick Family Greenhouse
The original Greenhouse, designed by architects Alden & Harlow, was used to grow flowers and tropical plants for Clayton year-round, as well as annuals from seed for outdoor beds, vegetables, and mushrooms. The Fricks’ Greenhouse supplied them with fresh flowers and seedlings for their gardens. The Frick family built their first Greenhouse between August 1882 and June 1883.
In 1897, the Fricks replaced their original Greenhouse with one built by Alden & Harlow, an architecture firm based in Pittsburgh and Boston, and the firm employed by Andrew Carnegie to design Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Library and Museum complex.
The Greenhouse that exists today was rebuilt based on the 1897 Alden & Harlow structure. Through the Frick’s partnership with Grow Pittsburgh, a community group that promotes sustainable agriculture, a wide variety of vegetables and flowers are grown. Many are used to prepare foods in The Café.
The Need for Repairs
As with all historical sites—and our own homes—maintenance is never finished. The Greenhouse is an active site for school groups and visitors alike and is generally open to the public year-round. Time, weather, and use of the space have led to several preservation projects that need to be addressed. Work began on these projects in March 2022 and will continue throughout the summer months.
Exterior: Many areas of the metal structure, including some of the finials, are rusted and bubbling. The structure needs to be sandblasted and repainted.
Planters and concrete table: Wooden planter boxes used by our Grow Pittsburgh partners are beginning to rot and need to be replaced. The large central concrete table is cracked and broken after many years of use. In some areas, missing pieces have been replaced by boards.
Swamp coolers: The purchase of two new swamp coolers will allow us to maintain proper temperatures year-round and will work most efficiently in our small space.
The overall need for repairs totals $72,000:
• $40,000 to repaint the exterior of the Greenhouse.
• $24,000 to replace planters and repair the large central concrete table.
• $8,000 to purchase two swamp coolers.
Why Support This Important Project?
Your support will enable us to provide a variety of family and student programs in the Greenhouse. Each spring, around 200 children from Pittsburgh Public Schools (Faison’s first grade and Colfax’s second grade) visit the Frick to learn about nature directly from the source. The Frick’s Learning Tree program teaches students how to identify plants, observe what they need to grow, and plant their own herbs and flowers to take home with them.
Student tours of Clayton, including Propel McKeesport's SPARK program, often include the Greenhouse. We discuss its architecture along with the emotional and material benefits of owning a Greenhouse—promoting mental wellbeing through contact with nature, as well as the benefits of growing your own food.
Community partner camp field trips, as well as summer camp students, visit the Greenhouse often. Children from Oasis, Voices Against Violence, and Gwen’s Girls, among others, use the plants for botanical studies and design inspirations.
Children and families love to stop by the Greenhouse during the summer months for a self-guided scavenger hunt, encouraging them to explore our entire 5.5-acre lush garden campus.
How Can I Help?
Please consider donating to the Greenhouse Preservation Effort by making a gift online today or contacting Maddy Rolla, Manager of Individual Support, at 412-342-4098 or MRolla@TheFrickPittsburgh.org.
Your crucial support ensures that our Greenhouse, gardens, and grounds are sources of enjoyment for all. As we actively work to upgrade and preserve the Greenhouse, your gift today allows us to complete all planned work as quickly as possible while continuing our vital missional programming. Thank you for your consideration, and for all that you do for the Frick.