Work of Art

Striking pieces of local and international art make this Squirrel Hill home a unique treat for visitors.



Antique collections are on display in several of the rooms in this home.

Photo by Laura Petrilla

If these elegant walls could talk, they would tell tales of William Larimer Mellon and the titans of Pittsburgh’s Gilded Age drinking wine from crystal goblets. They would speak of Arab sheiks and even the Shah of Iran sipping fragrant black coffee from demitasse cups while debating the price of oil. And they would bear witness to the hundreds of artists and artisans from around the globe whose creations have come to fill these glamorous rooms.

This stately Squirrel Hill house was originally the home of Rachel Mellon Walton. In the 1970s, it became the property of Gulf Oil and was used as a retreat for visiting dignitaries and executives. In 1986, the current owners purchased the house and its furnishings—everything from exquisite velvet chairs to Limoges china and Baccarat crystal. A set of 50 demitasse cups serves as a reminder of those visiting Arab sheiks who sipped their coffee here in the 1970s.

This is a house designed for welcoming guests, as the dining room table seats 18 or more people. And that suits the current owners perfectly. This couple, whose children are now grown and living on their own, enjoys hosting everything from large charity events to intimate dinner parties. Along with lavish meals and sparkling conversation, a special treat awaits guests at these parties: The owners collect antiques from many different historical eras and regions of the world.

idols

Photo by Laura Petrilla   

Nearly every surface in the living room, dining room, library and rear sitting room is filled with these artfully displayed collections: small sculptures, music boxes, tea caddies, tiny paintings and so much more—the collections are clustered together in a way that seems to celebrate creativity.

Artwork and artifacts from Africa, Europe and Asia are displayed together in a way that feels seamless because the objects are crafted of similar materials and colors. Mayan urns and Native American pots rest together on a shelf, while ivory art-deco sculptures by Duvernet contrast with ancient ivory sculptures from Africa. (All, the owners point out, were crafted long before the modern days of poached ivory.)

Each room brings unexpected treasures and a sense of abundance. You discover not just one ivory cribbage set but, instead, a dozen. Not just one African ivory sculpture, but shelves full of them in addition to rows of antique German beer steins and delicately carved scrimshaw.

But while these collections bring an international glamour to the house, the homeowners have taken a very different approach to decorating their walls: They have chosen to exclusively display paintings by western Pennsylvanian artists, specifically pieces from 1800-1945.

Occasionally, some of the paintings have been loaned to the Carnegie Museum of Art and the Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg, Pa. And in order to make room for the growing collections of antiques, items are sometimes donated to charity.

Although the husband is the collector, his wife seems utterly in her element in this ornate space. It’s a lot of fun to live in a home surrounded by so much history and beauty, she says.

And yet, with a smile, she shares a confession: If she were choosing a home based on her own preference, she would probably live in a sleek loft apartment with only a handful of furniture and a few striking pieces of art.

But she loves seeing the joy that these collections bring to her husband. And she delights in sharing this beautiful home and all its remarkable contents with the many guests who visit throughout the year.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in May

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in May

This month's best bets in the ’Burgh.
Best Doctors in Pittsburgh 2017

Best Doctors in Pittsburgh 2017

Pittsburgh’s medical lifesavers rated by their peers, including anesthesiologists, cardiologists, dermatologists, neurologists, ophthalmologists, pediatricians, psychiatrists, surgeons, urologists & many more.
Health Care in Pittsburgh that Goes Beyond the Office

Health Care in Pittsburgh that Goes Beyond the Office

Innovations in Postpartum Depression Treatment, First-Aid Training and Food Security.
Looking Back: Dan Rooney, Remembered

Looking Back: Dan Rooney, Remembered

The builder of two stadiums, a billion-dollar football business, NFL labor harmony and racial sensitivity, and bridges between constituencies –– he was an everywhere man whose soft, steady hand was felt everywhere.
Restaurant Review: DiAnoia's Eatery Bridges the Gap

Restaurant Review: DiAnoia's Eatery Bridges the Gap

With a little work, the Strip District restaurant could become a Pittsburgh classic.
Pittsburgh at the Forefront of The Brain Revolution

Pittsburgh at the Forefront of The Brain Revolution

Alzheimer’s disease is the most expensive ailment to treat and the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. Pittsburgh has become a battleground in the fight against the devastating illness, thanks to the decade-long quest of two Pittsburgh researchers whose work is on track to change the face of medicine and affect millions worldwide.
Edit Module
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


New Study: Pittsburgh Drivers are The Worst of the Worst

New Study: Pittsburgh Drivers are The Worst of the Worst

Pittsburgh ties with one other city for having the worst drivers in the nation.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Scratch Food & Beverage Has a New Executive Chef

Scratch Food & Beverage Has a New Executive Chef

Brandon Blumenfeld introduces an American gastropub menu at the Troy Hill bar.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Five Inexpensive But Memorable Date Spots in Pittsburgh

Five Inexpensive But Memorable Date Spots in Pittsburgh

These spots are tailored for couples who are looking for a simple, chill night out on Valentine’s Day (or any other day). If your significant other isn’t the type to be wooed by expensive wines and chocolates, this is the list for you.

Comments


Five Essential May Events

Five Essential May Events

Comics (the kind on paper), comics (the kind with microphones), cats and more upcoming delights.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
‘Use Him Like ‘Troy Polamalu’ – Steelers Should Jump on This Pick

‘Use Him Like ‘Troy Polamalu’ – Steelers Should Jump on This Pick

If Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers is still available, the Pittsburgh Steelers would be wise to make him their first-round pick in the NFL draft.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Pittsburgh on a Plate

Pittsburgh on a Plate

The way to a beer lover’s heart is mapped out on notNeutral’s plate, which highlights Pittsburgh breweries (and other points of interest) across the city.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Sink Into a Trippy High School at Row House Cinema

Sink Into a Trippy High School at Row House Cinema

The Pittsburgh premiere of offbeat cartoon "My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea" is the local film event of the week.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Beautiful Blooms: Twists on the Traditional Bouquet

Beautiful Blooms: Twists on the Traditional Bouquet

You’ll definitely want the story behind these stunning wedding flowers.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Rare Plants, Accessories, Up for Grabs at 2017 Garden Marketplace

Rare Plants, Accessories, Up for Grabs at 2017 Garden Marketplace

Hosted by the Penn State Master Gardeners, the free event, which includes the local daffodil society’s annual show, features exclusive and hard-to-find flowers, shrubs, fruit and vegetable plants and other garden accessories from a variety of vendors.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
A-Rod to Talk Baseball and Steroids at Slippery Rock

A-Rod to Talk Baseball and Steroids at Slippery Rock

Considered one of the greatest baseball players of all time, Alex Rodriguez also is one of the league's more controversial stars.

Comments