The city of New York has seen its fair share of dramatic transformations over the years, some good, some mostly bad (Pearl River Mart on Broadway?! Say it isn't so, NYC!!). For those more or less original New Yorkers that have stuck around to witness high rise condos being erected where prewar townhouses or landmarked buildings once sat, you've had to endure a lot of heartache and nostalgia during these rather sad changes to this irreplaceable city. One by one, decades old establishments are being torn down for newer construction and new money. If these developments have affected you or a loved one in any way, even if it's a small, original store you've passed every so often during your weekly commute that no longer exists (Pearl Paint on Canal?! Why oh why!) you have to wonder, will we even recognize this city in ten years? Can we safely assume that NYC will honor at least some of its original aesthetic and appeal in the near future, or will it all be gone, sold to the highest bidder for millions of dollars and commercialism? Think too long and hard about this notion and it's enough to bring on a serious case of the sads. Like The French Quarter of New Orleans, this town cannot be rebuilt. From the Financial District to Washington Heights, so much of what makes New York City unique is the architecture, the history, the people and the stories. Tear it all down and what do you really have left? Homes for billionaires only really and then poof--New York State of mind no more.
Like so much of this city's rich, thriving culture the art scene here is impeccable. We have some of the finest museums in the world, along with an overwhelming number of galleries and art studios. It's near impossible to live in this town without feeling the itch to create, or witness other wondrous creations both new and ancient. One of the greatest art houses in all fifty states exists on the stellar Museum Mile on Manhattan's Upper East Side. The Frick Museum is unique in the sense that it's a mansion and not an institution; formerly the home of Henry Clay Frick, a coal and steel tycoon who amassed a very impressive fine art collection throughout his days. In his will, Frick intended his home and personal museum be used for the purpose and benefit for all persons, whomever. Walking through the Frick is like walking through someone's beloved, private quarters, getting up close and personal with their very own, personal art collection featuring exquisite, old master's paintings. The museum has always kept very strict visiting terms meaning you're far less likely to run into large school groups and loud talkers. Even the most agile, steadfast person needs at least a week to get through every gallery at The Met, but the Frick can be easily covered in a couple of hours, max. Aside from the Frick's pristine location, situated in the midst of million dollar prewar coops and townhouses directly across the street from Central Park, the mansion's gardens offer a special retreat from the chaos and cluster of the city surrounding the property. These gardens and interior intimate halls are like no other art house in town, and the cherished grounds are currently at risk for deletion due to a possible expansion.
Like practically every corner in NYC, there's little room for new construction without tearing down property that's existed long before most of us living and breathing today. The Frick has seen an increase of guests and profits over the years and some decision makers on the board believe it's only natural to expand the old mansion's interior by building a six story wing where the lovely gardens have pleasantly held court since the home's completion in 1914. Losing these gardens would be tragic, as having access to quiet outdoor escapes is slim to none in this concrete jungle. Aside from taking away the natural elements of this esteemed art house, increasing the square footage of the Frick Mansion simply feels wholly wrong. This intimate museum was never intended to be made into a swelling institution, which is why it's so very unique.
Luckily for those of us that truly care about the future of this exclusive art house there's currently a growing organization dedicated to keeping the Frick Collection as is, without the looming expansion and outdoor eradication. Individuals and organizations from all over the greater New York City area have joined forces through Unite to Save the Frick to protect the property's 70th street garden by 20th century landscape designer Russell Page, and its complimentary Reception Hall Pavilion designed by architects John Barrington Bailey and Harry Van Dyke. If we don't work to protect the places we've come to love, the same extraordinary properties that were introduced to us by those that precede us and the very landmarks we hope to share with our younger generations we will lose them forever. New York City is swiftly becoming a shiny, over-saturated shell of its former, more interesting self. While we must accept change and evolution in modern times, some things are sacred and shouldn't be so drastically touched. The Frick Mansion is definitely one of those special places.
Our special thanks to all of those that continue to fight for the Frick.