On November 17, 1914, Henry Clay Frick and his wife Adelaide moved into their newly constructed residence at 1 East 70th Street in New York, now the home of The Frick Collection. An online exhibition to mark the 100th anniversary of this event was created by the Archives of The Frick Collection and Frick Art Reference Library, and draws upon archival holdings to tell the story of the house’s early history. Developed using Google Open Gallery, the exhibition allows users to enlarge images, view transcripts, and share and compare images. It is The Frick Collection’s first online exhibition using this platform.
Frick residence under construction (July 2, 1913) by Wurts Bros. (New York, N.Y.), The Frick Collection/Frick Art Reference Library Archives
Arranged chronologically, the exhibition highlights correspondence, invoices, legal documents, blueprints, and photographs within the Frick Family Papers and the institutional records of The Frick Collection. Various sections delimit the phases of the house’s development and construction, such as acquiring the property, selecting an architect, building and decorating the house, disruption due to World War I, and Frick’s acquisitions from the J. Pierpont Morgan collection. Some items also touch upon transatlantic travel by the Frick family, notably their canceled plans to sail on the Titanic in 1912. The exhibition’s title, “A Comfortable Well Arranged Home”: One Hundred Years of Henry Clay Frick’s New York Residence, is taken from a letter Frick wrote to one of the house’s decorators, Sir Charles Allom, around the time Allom was to submit his final drawings and proposals for the house’s first floor interior. Other correspondents represented in the exhibition are Elsie de Wolfe, who decorated most of the family’s living quarters on the second and third floors, architect Thomas Hastings of the firm Carrère & Hastings, New York City mayor William J. Gaynor, and Frick’s principal art dealers, Charles Carstairs and Roland Knoedler. Their letters appear alongside photographs by Wurts Brothers showing the construction of the house at various states, and interior shots of the house taken before it was transformed into a museum in 1935.