June 21, 2010 at 6:31 pm | Posted in Architecture | 9 Comments

Willis McCook Mansion

 One of the most elegant and impressive residences in Pittsburgh was designed by Carpenter & Crocker in 1906-07 for Mr. Willis McCook, a prominent attorney and socalite.   It is now nearing a new life as an elegant boutique hotel and spa to be known as the MANSIONS ON FIFTH, with a planned opening for Fall, 2010.  There has been much interest in the historical preservation of this building and there is a pending recommendation for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Buildings.

I had planned extensive coverage of this building for the future, but current activities concerning it are developing so fast I feel interim coverage is necessary. As time permits I will bring you more details on the history of this structure and its architectural features.



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  1. This house is truly beautiful. I checked out the link you provided to the other website with more photos – and I was not disappointed. The woodwork, craftsmenship, and overall detail were exceptionally gorgeous, but not a surpise to me, because it was fairly common to expect such work from a house during that time period. However, I really enjoyed looking at all the marvelous details! The 1927 photograph you provided was also so neat! I am also pleased to see that this beautiful house is being taken care of, and despite some fire damage, it is still managing. And of course, to have it in Pittsburgh is even better!


    • Glad you enjoyed your tour of the mansions. Do you have any information on any of the other buildings designed by Carpenter in Pittsburgh that are listed under Architecture/Pittsburgh? You might want to drive by to look at them and make comments . Thanks, Jack

  2. Unfortunately, I don’t have any other information on any of the other buildings designed by Carpenter in Pittsburgh. However, I would like to mention that Mario Lemieux’s house in Sewickley has a similar type of architecture in my opinion. I don’t know who built it though. And like the above house, Lemieux’s house has several chimneys (common for the era) and similar brickwork.


    • Mario Lemieux’s house in Sewickley is a new one to me, but it is a possible Carpenter design. Maybe we’ll get some help from another reader. The time frame is right, 1910, and he was living in Beaver Falls with his family at that time. I have one of his watercolor painting of a camp on the Ohio River that I will be writing about one of these days.

  3. Yes, from my understanding Mario’s house was built in 1910. So it very well could be by one of the famous architects of the day.

  4. Hey Jack,

    You may recall me telling you about a William J. Carpenter design of a house in Sewickley for a George Craig. I can’t remember the date off the top of my head, but perhaps Rachel knows the name of the original owner of Mario’s home?


    • Hi Diana,

      Yes, the George Craig house is on the list in Sewickley, but the build date is July, 1901. Perhaps Rachel can help us out here with information about it, maybe even an address and its status. Also, the original name of Mario’s home’s owner would clarify that question.
      Best, Jack

  5. Sorry guys for not replying sooner! I JUST got back from Canada. Unfortunately, I do not know the original owner of Mario’s house. I’d have to ask sometime. I do know of a George L Craig, Jr. who lived in the Sewickley area, and is buried in the Sewickly Cementary. He died in the 80s (I believe), and was a graduate of Yale. He could have indeed lived in his home, but I’m not sure. Sorry for not being of much help!


    • Hi Rachel,
      Our exchange about Sewickley and Wm. J. Carpenter piqued my interest so I contacted Harton Semper, Executive Director of the Sewickley Valley Historical Society. Here is his reply to my query about the relationship of Architect Carpenter and George Craig: “I saw the website Wm James Carpenter, the Unforgotten Man, so I know more about the subject. Carpenter & Crocker built a house for George L. Craig in Sewickley in 1901 on Bank Street. Later the address was Thorn Street, because the Ohio River Boulevard, State Route 65, gobbled up part of Bank Street when it was constructed in the 1930s. I’m pretty sure the house is not extant. There is a motor inn, now closed, at the site, which is about to be redeveloped into offices and single family homes.”
      There is apparently no connection between Mr. Carpenter and the Mario Lemieux mansion.
      I’m keeping my hopes up that someone will come up with a photo or more information about the Craig home. He played an imporant role in Seewickley and Pennsylvania history. Incidentally, George L. Craig, Jr. was his son.

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