McCook Mansion of The Mansions on Fifth

One of Pittsburgh’s most stunning homes, the McCook Mansion of The Mansions on Fifth, has been brought back to life, and its rebirth is celebrated this holiday season.



This main room, originally designed as a formal dining area for the McCook family, is now used for private parties and corporate events.

Photo by Laura Petrilla; holiday décor by All in Good Taste Productions

(page 1 of 2)

A family estate nestled along Fifth and Amberson avenues in Shadyside, The Mansions on Fifth are comprised of two historic mansions, the McCook-Reed Mansion and the McCook Mansion. Once private homes, the mansions have been restored into luxurious guest rooms and suites. The Mansions also serve as a premier venue for private parties, weddings, business meetings and retreats. Built in 1907 by the McCooks, a family at the forefront of Pittsburgh society, the McCook Mansion has been saved by other locals, Mary Del Brady and Richard Pearson.

Brady and Pearson have spent the past year restoring the McCook Mansion with the help of their daughter, Jennifer. Take a peek inside this reborn treasure, which remains a wonderfully curious mix of grand glamour and homey warmth.
 

The Beginning

Willis McCook, attorney and close business associate of Henry Clay Frick, wanted to build a home that felt like a spectacular English Manor home for his wife, Mary, and their 10 children. In 1907, he did just that, commissioning a stunning granite mansion and a smaller companion home for one of his daughters on Fifth Avenue.

The McCook home had real warmth, unlike many of the cold, marble palaces along what was once called “millionaire’s row.” And the extensive woodwork, intricately painted ceilings and softly glowing light fixtures that gave the house its charm, have now been carefully restored.

For two decades, this three-story home was the site of lavish holiday celebrations filled with family and friends. But after the McCooks passed away, the Depression hit, and the house fell into receivership.

Changing Times

In the 1950s, the Bonavita family bought it from the city for a reported $28,000. The family began renting rooms to college students, including architecture and design students from Carnegie Mellon University.

Mrs. Bonavita “interviewed and prescreened each of them,” Brady says, to ensure they would love the house and treat it as a home—not a crash pad.

“Over about 50 years, we’ve estimated [that] about 500 students have lived here,” Brady says. “Think how well taken care of it’s been.” Some former residents have been in touch with the new owners, and a reunion may happen next year. Many say they have fond memories of living with the Bonavitas in such a beautiful and inspiring home.

Tragically, a fire in 2004 damaged the attic and third floor, so the house was closed. It was up for sale, but the Bonavita family vowed not to sell to anyone who would demolish the home.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Review: Salt of the Earth

Review: Salt of the Earth

Brandon Fisher is the latest chef behind Salt of the Earth’s modern-American dishes.
2014 Pittsburgher of the Year Award: The Fred Rogers Company

2014 Pittsburgher of the Year Award: The Fred Rogers Company

Sharing the DNA of the father of children’s television, the Fred Rogers Company reinvigorates a beloved legacy while creating new hit characters and content that help children to grow, giggle and learn.
Update: The McMutrie Sisters' Mission 5 Years After the Haiti Earthquake

Update: The McMutrie Sisters' Mission 5 Years After the Haiti Earthquake

Jamie and Ali McMutrie were PM's 2010 Pittsburghers of the Year after airlifting 54 youngsters to safety. Now, they have forged a relationship with a major global player to continue their work to prevent struggling Haitian families from surrendering children to orphanages.
PittGirl's New Year's Resolutions for Pittsburghers

PittGirl's New Year's Resolutions for Pittsburghers

Four ways to make the city even better in 2015.
Penguins Profile: The Fearless Patric Hornqvist

Penguins Profile: The Fearless Patric Hornqvist

The Penguin winger fits in easily with the team, thanks to his infectious personality and his mad dedication to confounding opposing goaltenders.
Rev It Up: This South Side Pittsburgh Loft is Unique and Unusual

Rev It Up: This South Side Pittsburgh Loft is Unique and Unusual

This three-story home melds all of the comforts of home with the sleek look and efficiency of industrial design.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags