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Art & Museums

A behind-the-scenes look at the holidays in Henry Clay Frick's grand mansion

Mary Pickels
| Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017, 9:00 p.m.
Holidays at the Frick in Point Breeze will display the Clayton mansion at its seasonal finest.
Holidays at the Frick in Point Breeze will display the Clayton mansion at its seasonal finest.

The Frick Pittsburgh in Point Breeze is tipping its hat this holiday season to the domestic staff that kept the large home running during the busy holiday season.

"Through the Back Door: Domestic Service at Clayton During the Holidays," is open Nov. 16 through Jan. 7.

Household staff entered 7227 Reynolds St. through the back door, their work essential in keeping Henry Clay Frick's grand mansion in tip top shape for the family's elaborate lifestyle and their many guests' visits.

This winter's tour combines a look at holiday finery with a glimpse into the responsibilities of the household staff, offering visitors a new perspective on Gilded Age holidays.

The winter season was filled with festive occasions for the family, according to a news release, and no celebration was possible without the help of the household staff.

Butler Joseph Holroyd greeted callers, directed the dinner service, and managed the silver and wine cellar.

Chef Spencer Ford prepared gourmet meals for the family and their visitors, working with the lady of the house to plan menus.

Lady's maid Pauline Turon served as personal attendant to Adelaide Howard Childs Frick, assisting with errands and the complicated task of dressing.

Household maids kept the rooms spotless, dusting furniture, polishing silver and scrubbing floors.

Laundresses, a coachman and stable attendants, and gardeners also kept Clayton and its grounds orderly and running smoothly.

The lives of the individuals who made their living working at Clayton are illuminated through artifacts and archival resources displayed throughout the house, including payroll records, shopping lists, and vouchers for household expenses, while colorful poinsettias, live greens, and a traditional Christmas tree evoke traditions of holidays past.

Holiday tour admission is $15 adults, $13 seniors, students and active-duty military, and $8 ages 6-16.

Details: 412-371-0600 or thefrickpittsburgh.org.

Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-836-5401 or mpickels@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MaryPickels.

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