The original greenhouse, designed by architects Alden & Harlow, was used to grow flowers and tropical plants for Clayton year-round, as well as annuals from seed for outdoor beds, vegetables, and mushrooms.
In the late 19th century, greenhouses and conservatories were common additions to the homes or estates of wealthy families. The Fricks’ greenhouse supplied them with year-round fresh flowers and seedlings for their gardens. The Frick family built their first greenhouse between August 1882 and June 1883.
In 1897, the Fricks replaced their original greenhouse with one built by Alden & Harlow, an architecture firm based in Pittsburgh and Boston, and the firm employed by Andrew Carnegie to design Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Library and Museum complex.
The greenhouse that exists today was rebuilt based on the 1897 Alden & Harlow structure. Through the Frick’s partnership with Grow Pittsburgh, a community group that promotes sustainable agriculture, a wide variety of vegetable and flowers are grown. Many are used to prepare foods in the Café.