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.

Sign Up for the 412 e-Newsletter

 

Our new, daily e-newsletter is curated by the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine and is designed to give you the very best Pittsburgh has to offer -- delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign me up!
* Email
 First Name
 Last Name
  * = Required Field
 
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Best of the 'Burgh 2016

Best of the 'Burgh 2016

We scoured the region to bring you 53 items we’ve deemed this year’s “Best of the ’Burgh,” as well as 8 stellar local Instagram accounts you don’t want to miss.
See Yinz: PittGirl Says Goodbye

See Yinz: PittGirl Says Goodbye

After writing for seven years about the city for Pittsburgh Magazine and pittsburghmagazine.com, Virginia Montanez is discontinuing her blog and column.
Restaurant Review: Whitfield at Ace Hotel Pittsburgh

Restaurant Review: Whitfield at Ace Hotel Pittsburgh

The restaurant at Ace Hotel in East Liberty hits some high notes as it finds itself.
Pride of McKeesport: WNBA Star Swin Cash

Pride of McKeesport: WNBA Star Swin Cash

During her final season of professional basketball, Cash remains ferocious on the court and selfless everywhere else.
Idol Find: Pittsburgh Rapper Teams Up with Dad Jimmy McNichol for New Show

Idol Find: Pittsburgh Rapper Teams Up with Dad Jimmy McNichol for New Show

Research led Kellee Maize to discover she is the daughter of the former teen singing sensation. Now she and McNichol are teaming up to develop a television series to help other parents and children find each other.
Daytripping: Rating the Roller Coasters at Cedar Point

Daytripping: Rating the Roller Coasters at Cedar Point

One day, 18 roller coasters, four queasy stomachs, two cheeseburgers, one fried dough … whew.
Edit Module

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Pittsburgh's Union Trust Building Renovated and Restored

Pittsburgh's Union Trust Building Renovated and Restored

The historic Downtown building reopens after a two-year, $100 million renovation.

Comments


Pittsburgh, only cooler
PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

Kennywood Park opens soon and new this season is the return of the famed whale at the entrance of Noah’s Ark. In the name of science, PittGirl paid an early visit to test the squishiness quotient of the whale's all-important tongue.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
James Beard Foundation Celebrity Chef Tour Stops In Pittsburgh

James Beard Foundation Celebrity Chef Tour Stops In Pittsburgh

Justin Severino and Hilary Prescott Severino of Cure and Morcilla organized the event, which featured celebrated chefs from DC, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
The Best 7 Spots in Pittsburgh to Watch the 2016 Euro Cup

The Best 7 Spots in Pittsburgh to Watch the 2016 Euro Cup

Grab your kits, scarfs and get ready to watch the Euro 2016 Pittsburgh-style. We'll show you where to go to get your fan on.

Comments


Beer Cults and Brick Ovens: An Evening at Fuel & Fuddle

Beer Cults and Brick Ovens: An Evening at Fuel & Fuddle

The restaurant and bar in Oakland welcomes college students and locals alike.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Perspective Accompanies Long-Awaited Second Crosby Cup

Perspective Accompanies Long-Awaited Second Crosby Cup

The Pittsburgh Penguins may be more poised to establish a dynasty in 2016 than they were in 2009.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Add a Bygone Beacon to Your Living Room

Add a Bygone Beacon to Your Living Room

Vintage signs can add a pop of personality to your decor.

Comments


Sean Collier's Popcorn for Dinner

The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Demons, Orcs, Hipsters and More at the Multiplex

Demons, Orcs, Hipsters and More at the Multiplex

Reviews of "The Conjuring 2," "Warcraft," "Maggie's Plan," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
True to Tradition: Incorporating Your Heritage at Your Wedding

True to Tradition: Incorporating Your Heritage at Your Wedding

Honoring tradition at weddings is important for many couples, whether that means including heirlooms and unique customs or hosting a full-blown second ceremony.

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
Decor Calling: Home Furnishings Go Mobile

Decor Calling: Home Furnishings Go Mobile

House15143 is Sewickley debuts “House Calls,” a mobile Airstream designed to bring the shopping experience to you (or an event near you).

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Summer Robotics Camp Offered to High-School Students

Summer Robotics Camp Offered to High-School Students

The camp is a collaboration between two area universities and is open to students entering grades 9-12.

Comments