I really can’t explain my obsession with old things. I don’t just look at a sword from the Civil War; I stare deep into its eyes and try to imagine it being wielded by a young soldier. I wonder if he had a love. If he was scared. I wonder what he ate for breakfast the day he used it. How he liked his coffee. I wonder what his handwriting was like. If his hair was long. If he was handsome. I wonder if he died tragically. I wonder if he told good stories. If he was soft-spoken or brash. If he had a favorite book.
Crazy, right? But history really is very very alive for me. It’s not artifacts or words on paper or grainy black and white images. It’s life that was lived in color.
All that, just to say, MORE OLD STUFF!
1. Thanks to the Senator John Heinz History Center, I’ve got my hands on an image of the 45-room William Larimer Mellon Ben Elm mansion at 5340 Forbes Avenue, that you recall I was desperately trying to hunt down ever since I learned of its existence prior to being razed at the ripe age of 30.
And here’s another look at the R.B. Mellon estate:
It doesn’t look as big there. Hmm.
2. The History Center also provided me with this article about the R.B. Mellon Mansion’s razing. Read about the Mellon family generosity during the great depression:
So it was the taxes, after all. Sad panda.
3. While researching the Mellon homes, I discovered something I should have probably known. That Andrew Carnegie retired to Scotland, his birthplace, where he bought and lived in Skibo Castle, which makes the R.B. Mellon estate look like a shanty in comparison:
Here he is at Skibo in 1914, five years before his death:
Fun fact! Guy Ritchie and Madonna were married at Skibo Castle!
Fun fact! Skibo Castle is 60,000 square feet!
Fun fact! Andrew Carnegie was only five feet tall!
Fun fact! Andrew Carnegie’s worth in today’s dollah-dollah bills? ALMOST THREE HUNDRED BILLION. Bah-bah-BILLION.
P.S. I’m now obsessed with learning about Andrew Carnegie. God help you all. And just from Twitter, I can tell you that like Frick, there are some people with strong hate for Andrew Carnegie.
P.P.S. In next week’s history post, I’m going to show you old PAT street cars and an image from Forbes Field that will just knock your socks off, if your socks are easily knocked off by history.