The Frick Building is one of the major landmarks of downtown Pittsburgh. The tower was built by and subsequently named for Henry Clay Frick. The building is registered on the National Register of Historic Places. Pittsburghers may recognize many additional buildings designed by Frick around the city, as he was a well-known coke producer who had a large portfolio of commercial buildings in the city.
The building opened in March 1902 and had 20 floors. Many Pittsburghers were excited as it was the tallest building in the city at that time. There’s a fun fact about the building—many credit it was 21 floors, as a leveling of the landscape in 1912 caused the basement to become the entrance. The building’s architect was a Chicagoan named Daniel H. Burnham of the firm D.H. Burnham and Co.
The lobby of the Frick Building features a gorgeous stained glass window entitled “Fortune and Her Wheel” created in 1902 by John LaFarge. Many may notice the bronze lions in the lobby—they were created by a sculptor named Alexander Proctor in 1904. There’s also a bust of Frick that was brought in in 1923 by sculptor Malvina Hoffman.
Moving to the top floor, there is a balcony around the building’s perimeter. Frick actually used it as his office for awhile and as a private meeting place for other wealthy businessmen. Frick also had a shower installed on the 19th floor. Believe it or not, at that moment in history no other shower had been built that high above ground as water couldn’t be pumped that high yet. The shower still exists today but is no longer functioning.
At one point the building was the headquarters of the Frick family whiskey business, Old Overholt (which is still around today!). Earlier this year, a 1,500 lb. piece of the building fell off onto Grant Street and it was closed for a few weeks over the summer. Fortunately, no one was hurt.