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.

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

Deep In The Heart of Downtown

Deep In The Heart of Downtown

Downtown Pittsburgh is booming. The Golden Triangle has grown in ways that previous generations may never have envisioned, and the perception of the neighborhood at the heart of Pittsburgh is changing rapidly –– for the better.
And The Winner Is....

And The Winner Is....

Meet the top vote getter in our 2016 Cutest Pet Contest.
Top Dentists 2016

Top Dentists 2016

The Pittsburgh region's 368 premier dentists across 8 specialties.
Restaurant Review: Smallman Galley

Restaurant Review: Smallman Galley

The first crop of chefs in the Strip District restaurant incubator are four real.
The 10 Best Smiles in Pittsburgh

The 10 Best Smiles in Pittsburgh

Plus - we poll dentists included in our 2016 list of topDentists for their opinions and tips gleaned from years of experience in their profession.
A Clear Head, A Cannon for an Arm

A Clear Head, A Cannon for an Arm

After his first taste of big-league ball, Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Tyler Glasnow is ready for his close-up.
Edit Module

 

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Remembering “Chilly Billy” Cardille

Remembering “Chilly Billy” Cardille

The longtime Pittsburgh television personality had been suffering from liver cancer.

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
A Thyme and Place

A Thyme and Place

Old friends Tricia Cohen and Lisa Graves reconnect via Facebook and collaborate on a historical cookbook.

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


After Dark Hall of Fame: Sharp Edge

After Dark Hall of Fame: Sharp Edge

The local pubs that fly the Sharp Edge banner remain a favorite for top-notch beer and tantalizing grub.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Up-and-Down Bucs Survive First Half With Hope Intact

Up-and-Down Bucs Survive First Half With Hope Intact

The Pirates did just enough in the days before the All-Star break to embrace the second half of the season with anticipation if not expectation.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Namaste! Sandals Made from Yoga Mats

Namaste! Sandals Made from Yoga Mats

Sanuk’s Yoga Sling Sandal are super comfy yet chic.

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.
The New Ghostbusters Is a Worthy Addition to the Franchise

The New Ghostbusters Is a Worthy Addition to the Franchise

Reviews of "Ghostbusters" and "The Infiltrator," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
The Perfect Shot: Wedding Photographers’ Favorite Moments

The Perfect Shot: Wedding Photographers’ Favorite Moments

We asked these Pittsburgh wedding photographers to share some of their most-memorable photos — and the stories behind them.

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
Ten Thousand Villages Celebrates Grand Reopening

Ten Thousand Villages Celebrates Grand Reopening

The new, larger location in Squirrel Hill features an expanded selection of handcrafted merchandise.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Online Education at Edinboro University Nationally Ranked

Online Education at Edinboro University Nationally Ranked

The university landed in the top 10 schools for disabled students seeking an online education.

Comments