—SOURCE: National Historic Landmark Designation Report for The Frick Collection, issued by the Secretary of the Interior, October 6, 2008


Since their completion, both the Russell Page-designed Viewing Garden and the Reception Hall Pavilion have been praised as successful interventions. Text text text


New York Times article: “Enclosing a Frick Portico Would Create a Gallery,” by Carol Vogel

  • Overview of the enclosure of the north portico into a gallery
  • Notes that the Frick, on the subject of institutional expansion, has “considered more grand schemes, including underground galleries beneath its Fifth Avenue garden, but for now it is happy to work within its existing footprint.”



4/2/2000:            New York Times article: “Streetscapes: The Frick Mansion; Carnegie vs. Frick: Dueling Egos on Fifth Avenue,” by Christopher Gray

  • Overview of Frick’s residences leading up to the 70th Street mansion
  • “In 1973, the museum was designated a city landmark, and in 1977, to deal with increasing crowds, the Frick expanded to the east along 70th Street in a widely praised alteration design by Harry Van Dyke, John Barrington Bayley and G. Frederick Poehler.”



2/25/1977:          Frick Press Release

  • Frick refers to the garden as permanent
  • “At this stage it was planned to install a temporary garden on lots Nos. 5, 7 and 9 and to delay for a decade construction of a large wing on the site. Plans for this treatment were approved on July 6, 1973, by the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission. However, because of the high estimates received on the cost of the temporary garden, it was decided instead to reduce the size of the projected wing and to erect a small one-story pavilion and a permanent garden. These revised plans were accepted by the Landmarks Commission on May 23, 1974, and construction began in May of 1975.”



11/28/1973:         New York Times article: “Frick Drops Plan for its New Wing,” by Glenn Fowler

    • Refers to garden as “permanent,” but simultaneously described as an “interim measure.”


    • “The Frick Collection has abandoned its plan for eventual construction of a wing to the /east of its museum site at Fifth Avenue and 70th Street, and instead will create a permanent garden and terrace on the space earmarked for the wing.”


    • “Last year, the Frick trustees acquired the Widener mansion originally one of a row of distinguished town houses extending to Madison Avenue. They won permission last summer to tear it down after a spirited controversy in which community planners and architectural historian accused the Frick Collection of bad faith.”


    • “… the formal garden and terrace proposed by them would justify tearing down the Widener house.”


    • “INTERIM MEASURE: Commission approval was for a temporary garden, to be replaced ’10 to 20 years hence’ by the new museum wing. The commission made clear that its assent for ‘an interim measure’ that would assure a gracious view of the Frick mansion from the street, enhance by a reinstallation of the mansion’s original gates.”


  • “… architect’s rendering of the permanent garden would be given to the commission next month.”



7/9/1973:          New York Times article: “Widener Mansion is Coming Down,” by Carter B. Horsley

  • Landmarks Commission approves demolition of Widener house at 5 East 70th Street with provision of replacement with “a 100-foot-square, formal garden and terrace, to be replaced ‘10 to 20 years hence.’”



6/15/1973        New York Times article: “Frick Plans Garden on Widener Site,” by Carter B. Horsley

  • Refers to a “temporary” garden on the Widener site
  • “… temporary 100-foot-square garden and terrace on East 70th Street to be replaced in 10 to 20 years by a new wing.”



3/21/1973:          New York Times article: “Widener Mansion Given a Reprieve,” by Michael Knight

  • Dept. of Buildings revokes permit for altering (by means of demolition) the mansion.



3/15/1973:          New York Times article: “Frick Planning to Raze Widener Town House,” by Michael Knight

    • Acrimonious relations between the Frick and the Landmarks Commission, as the Frick files plans with Dept. of Buildings to demolish Widener even as they’re aware the Commission is exploring possible landmarking.


  • Letter from Frank Gilbert, executive secretary of the Landmarks Commission to Edgar Munhall, acting director of the Frick: “Your haste to destroy a beautiful building will prevent the type of careful investigation to which your neighbors and the entire city are entitled. To tear down the Widener House is a hostile act which will anger many New Yorkers. The Landmarks Preservation Commission hoped that the experiences of the last 10 years had taught the museums and other tax-exempt institutions of New York City the importance of being responsible citizens.”