|From "Flem's" Views of Old Pittsburgh|
|Pittsburgh Daily Post, 19 December 1889|
Illustration from Homestead by Arthur G. Burgoyne, 1893
|1889 plat map showing Montooth home|
|Blackmore mansion in Hill District|
|Blackmore renovated as Montefiore Hospital|
|Rev. George Hodges (1856 – 1919)|
Rev. Hodges seemed to view his wealthy parishioners as less toxically disinterested and self-absorbed than they were isolated and ignorant, writing that they were
….for the most part well-intentioned and good-hearted people, who think a great deal more about the poor than the poor imagine, and who do a great deal more for the poor than anybody ever finds out.
But at the same time Hodges allowed no justification for the foundation of exploitative working conditions, low wages, and substandard housing that underlay Pittsburgh’s steel empire, and determined to work within the existing system to do something about it. He was able to prick the consciences of his wealthy parishioners by emphasizing that the debasing elements of contemporary urban life had the potential to destroy the entire social fabric of the nation, and called upon them to address those elements from their positions of privilege by providing community resources for the worthy poor.
|First Kingsley House, 1707 Penn Avenue|
In January 1901, Henry Clay Frick bankrolled the purchase of Kingsley’s new home in the area of city wards 7, 8, and 11, and Maggie Montooth “conveyed to the Kingsley House Association the Montooth homestead at Bedford avenue and Fulton street, Eighth ward, for $15,000.”
|Henry Clay Frick (1849-1919)|
Although Rev. Hodges left Pittsburgh in 1894, and Frick was spending more and more time away from Pittsburgh at the turn of the century, he remained invested enough here to make this contribution of a new building. Perhaps he felt the time was exactly right in 1901 for a magnificent public gesture on behalf of Pittsburgh’s poor. He was at that point richer than he’d ever been, following the dissolution of his fractious partnership with Carnegie a few years earlier and the formal merger of Carnegie Corporation into United States Steel Company. This was also the time when the Christopher Magee-William Flinn Republican "Ring" domination of Pittsburgh politics was coming to an end after two decades of enriching its supporters through financial and real estate dealings, patronage, and organization of the city's immigrant population into powerful voting blocks -- the very population that Kingsley House was meant to serve. Frick had appreciated "Boss" Magee's support during the Homestead labor disputes and generally benefited from the patronage network that the Magee-Flinn Ring had created. But they'd had conflicts, too, and their relationship was largely one of convenience. Perhaps recognition that the existing political machine's days were numbered (in part due to illness, as Magee had taken a medical leave of absence and would die later that year) and that the power of the Ring was in decline prompted Frick to capitalize on an opportunity to assert his independence and enhance his reputation by supporting the type of people the Ring had manipulated over the years.
|Excerpt from Pittsburgh Daily Post article, 12 November 1901|
|1906 Girls Afternoon Club holiday tree and gifts|
|1906 holiday tree and gifts for Kindergarten|
|Visit from Santa|
|Kingsley House, circa 1911|
The same Fulton (by now called Fullerton) and Bedford property was considered in 1918 as a potential location for Pennsylvania’s only hospital for African-Americans. In 1923 it was reported that the Morgan Community House had vacated the old Montooth property and was turning it over to the Negro Hospital Association to equip as a hospital for Pittsburgh’s black population. The Morgan Community House continued to operate nearby at a property purchased for $12000 by African American community leaders at 73 Fullerton Street, and it operated for many years as a “Negro Community House.”
But at least one of Major Montooth’s two surviving sisters had an active share in a Montooth philanthropic legacy. After selling their family homestead, Mary and Maggie Montooth moved to smaller digs at Halkett and Forbes in Oakland until the end of their days. For nearly two decades, Mary managed the Toy Mission, a holiday gifting charity for poor and orphaned children that she helped found in 1893. The spinster sisters both passed away in the mid 1920s.
Today all we have left to remember the Montooth family is a street between Warrington and McKinley Park in Beltzhoover, in the former Montooth Borough, which was named for the Major in the 1890s.
[i] Montefiore Hospital at Herron and Center soon outgrew its site, prompting extensive fundraising, acquisition of new property in Oakland, and a building campaign. Today’s Montefiore Hospital was established in Oakland in 1929.
[ii] A blurb in the 3 November 1901 Pittsburgh Press indicated that Kingsley House was “looking forward to the prospect” of Rev. Hodges and Mr. and Mrs. Frick attending the reception. But Reverend Hodges was Dean of Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge, Massachusetts and was unable to attend, although he sent a telegram of congratulations to be read aloud at the event. It is not known why the Fricks didn’t attend. It’s possible that a previous commitment or travel plans took precedence. Perhaps the terminal illness and death of his uncle Jacob Frick in Wooster Ohio that same week served as a social excuse. In general, it seems that HCF did not seek the public approbation for his good deeds with the same enthusiasm as did his former colleague Andrew Carnegie. Also, given Frick’s focus on travel and work in NYC at the turn of the century, the goings-on in Pittsburgh were perhaps less important than they once were. And it is quite possible that the organization itself became less of a priority as it shifted to a more activist reformist stance. Kingsley Association and the surrounding area served as ground zero for the scathing, widely-publicized Pittsburgh Survey, a ground-breaking sociological study of urban poverty and industry. Although always listed as 'lifetime members’ in recognition of their initial generosity, Frick and his family members were not listed as repeat donors in Kingsley Association annual reports.