10. The Sections of The Frick Most Beloved Were Not Part of Original Mansion

John Russell Pope’s Garden Court for the Frick heralded his similar courts in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.

Classicist John Russell Pope, the architect chosen to convert the house to a museum, was one of the most distinguished architects of the early 20th century. Yet he was reviled on his death and criticized in the harshest possible terms for decades. His design, for example, for the Jefferson Memorial (equally beloved today) was called a servile sham, decadent stylism, and, grimly, a cadaver. He was even contemptuously called the last of the Romans, intended as a profound insult. But who doesn’t admire Rome today? Indeed, when in 2001 Princeton architect Michael Graves received the highest honor of the American Institute of Architects, the Gold Medal, he was asked to name the five best buildings in the world. His first choice: Rome, in its entirety. Paul Goldberger says that Pope used classicism as a source of dignity, distilling it down to its essence, which is precisely what Frick wanted.

Frick was ahead of his time in leaving a substantial endowment to be used for ongoing maintenance. He had once asked derisively about his former colleague, Andrew Carnegie, “What’s the point in Carnegie’s giving libraries to all those towns that go busted trying to keep ’em up?” He wasn’t about to make the same mistake.

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  1. Simon DelMonte Reply

    Wouldn’t the assassination of Abraham Lincoln by a group of conspirators who also tried to kill Seward and Johnson count as an act of terrorism? The word has almost lost all meaning, but surely any comparison between the attempt to kill Frick and the murder of Lincoln would place the two horrific events on the same level of combining politics and violence.

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