Willis McCook Mansion



WJ Carpenter Archival Photo

 1927 Photograph of McCook Mansion from archives of Wm. J. Carpenter

 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.  Located at 5105 Fifth Avenue in a section still known as Millionaire’s Row the lasting acceptance of the Elizabethan style speaks well of the diverse capability of Mr. Carpenter.

 As recently as five years ago the historical significance and contemporary potential of this building remained virtually unrecognized.  After the McCook family lost it in the 1930s it had suffered for some years as an apartment building and  it was only due to publicity after a disastrous fire in the upper floors in 2004 that its importance and value to the community became apparent. The potential loss of this landmark of Pittsburgh’s gilded era was recognized and the efforts of many agencies and individuals culminated in plans for a major preservation program.


 2002 photograph before the fire shows little change to the exterior of the building from 1927.     Photo by Jack Carpenter    

 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 October, 2010. An adjacent mansion at 925 Amberson Avenue also designed by Carpenter and Crocker as a residence for Willis McCook’s daughter Bessie will become an integral part of the MANSIONS ON FIFTH complex with the two combined buildings showcasing 23 rooms and suites.

 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 these structures and their architectural significance.

 Wonderful comprehensive photo coverage of some of the architectural details may be viewed by clicking here.

 On the website rhonaldangelo   last year the mansion was described as “…a magnificent example of a historically renovated home …The renovation revealed a scale and splendor of an elite Jacobean mansion as it was built in 1907….The architectural firm, Carpenter and Crocker, created a world of opulence with oak-paneled walls in the great hall, tall amber stained-glass windows, and a grand staircase.  A neoclassical parlor with fluted ionic pilasters and a dining room with a plasterwork pendant ceiling are rooms that will be enjoyed by visitors to this preserved mansion…” 

   There is a pending recommendation for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Buildings.


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