Construction on a mansion for the then-relatively-obscure Charles M. Schwab, Assistant Superintendent of the Edgar Thomson Works in Braddock, PA, began in 1888. He would soon become Superintendent on the death of Captain Bill Jones, whose mansion still stands about a block away on Kirkpatrick Street.
The commission was one of the first for a young Frederick J Osterling, who subsequently expanded Henry Clay Frick's Clayton into the mansion we know today. There is a sense that Frick saw what Schwab was doing, liked it, and engaged Osterling for the work on Clayton. Schwab would live here until 1898/9, by which time he had replaced Henry Clay Frick as President of Carnegie Steel and moved to JJ Vandergrift's "Highmont" (6200 Fifth Ave, Shadyside).
The house then became home to a succession of Superintendents of the Edgar Thomson Works until 1951*. After then standing vacant it was sold in 1960 to the North Braddock School District, who used it as their administrative headquarters while also hosting Art classes in the basement and Home Economics on the second floor.
In 1983 Dr. Bruce Dixon bought the mansion from the Woodland Hills School District to protect it and restore it to its former glory. Sadly, Dr. Dixon’s duties as head of the Allegheny County Health Department and other events conspired to keep him from fully pursuing his dream. The picture on this page is from about 1995 at the peak of his efforts, and the exterior deteriorated considerably after that time. Dr. Dixon died in 2013 before his dream could become fully realized.
In August 2014, retired biochemist Dr. John Hempel bought the house from the Dixon estate with the intent of continuing Dr. Dixon's efforts.
Adding to the historical significance of the mansion, it sits at about the center of the site of the Battle of Braddock's Field (9 July 1755), a site that George Washington very nearly never left. Denoting this, a statue of Washington by Frank Vittor stands across Jones Avenue. In addition, behind the statue, the 1803 Wallace Mansion stood until ~1927. Lafayette spent the night there in 1825, en route back from St Louis on his tour of the United States.
To add to the layers of history in the immediate vicinity, not long after Schwab's departure around 1899 the US Steel Corp gained ownership of the mansion as well as the adjacent Corey Mansion, demolished around 1922. That site was leveled to create the Edgar Thomson Field, where Negro Leagues baseball games were sometimes played. The ET Field site is now the location of the headquarters of the Woodland Hills School District.
The initial intent here was to document the restoration of this great structure in order to share with the community, but our Facebook page, linked from the tab on this page, has largely taken over that function.. Inside here you'll find galleries covering more of the permanent history of the mansion and other documentation.
*ET Superintendents who lived here were: Thomas Morrison 1897-1901 Morrison was present at the Millionaire’s Dinner in 1900; he subsequently lived in an Osterling-designed mansion in Highland Park near the King Estate.Charles E Dinkey (Schwab's brother-in-law, who had briefly been with the Mackintosh-Hemphill foundry) 1901-1920. The Dinkey children appear on the porch in the postcard in the Gallery at this site.OJH Hartsuff 1920-mid-1933.Frank Slick late 1933-1937 Before this, Slick lived at 809 Kirkpatrick, adjacent to Captain Jones’ mansion.Harry L Brindle 1937-51(According to our neighbor Mary, Harry's grandchilden Steven and JoAnn (Mary's playmate) lived in the carriage house with their mother.)