Frick Park Clay Court Tennis Club


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


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  History of Frick Park
Click here for Copy of the Will of Henry Clay Frick, Article V, 1919

The First 150 Acres

Frick Park began as the wish of a rebellious debutante. Helen Clay Frick was the only living daughter of Henry Clay Frick, one of Pittsburgh's nineteenth century millionaire industrialists, and a business partner of Andrew Carnegie in the world-leading steel industry in the city. Helen had grown up in Pittsburgh, in a house that still stands in Point Breeze and is known as Clayton. Though raised in a home in which every day was a business day, and by a father whose only leisure was collecting art, she became fond of the nameless and untamed woodlands around their home. She was a nature lover, rode a mare named Patricia, and cared in her lap for a dog actually named Fido. 

On December 1908, her father had scheduled a debut to present Helen to socialites in New York City, in the Vanderbilt Picture Gallery. Invitations had gone out to the wealthiest and most influential families in the country at the time, the Rockefellers, the Vanderbilts, among others. But Helen would have none of that, nor did she want to begin her adult life with what was then called a "contract marriage." Still a teenager, she escaped her calculating father's plans, and took a train bound for Pittsburgh. Her mother Adelaide joined in the rebellion and accompanied her daughter back to her hometown. Once in Pittsburgh, Helen devised her own coming out party, sent out her own invitations, and scheduled it on her mother's birthday, December 16, 1908. It was during this more intimate Frick family celebration that the idea for Frick Park originates. 

 It is said that Helen asked her father if he still held to his promise of granting her any one wish. Upon his affirmative reply, she asked him to give Pittsburgh a park. What was a loving and protective father to do? Although the tensions between father and daughter did not subside, sure enough, when Henry Clay Frick had his will written in 1915, among many other charitable donations, he gave the people of Pittsburgh 150 acres along with a $2 million trust for what would become Frick Park. When Mr. Frick passed away in 1919, the park passed into the hands of the city. This land with deep hollows was full of wildlife and exuberant with plant life, unmoved by industrial grandeur, and indifferent to Victorian pretensions. Like the spirit of the Pittsburgh girl whose wish came true.

By Jose Mieres, based on: Frick Symington Sanger, Martha.  Henry Clay Frick: An Intimate Portrait.  Abbeville Press, NY, 1998.

In August 1930 the newly constructed Frick Park clay courts first hosted the Pittsburgh Parks Championships.
In 1930 the men singles champion was Frank Broida, and the women singles champion was Jean Artzberger.
Paul Sullivan directed the Pittsburgh Parks Championships held at the Frick Park clay courts from 1930 until 2001.
From 1930 until 2001 there were no tie breaks in any of the matches and there were no age groups in any events.
In 2001 Paul Sullivan directed the tournament for the last time at Frick Park.
In 2002 Paul Sullivan, at 98 years old, put down his racket for the last time and the tournament was renamed the Paul G. Sullivan Tennis Championships.
In 2007 the tournament was relocated back to Frick Park after the volunteer restoration of the red clay courts by the new Frick Park Clay Court Tennis Club.

Frank Broida - 1930 Men's Singles Champion.

Paul Sullivan 1937.

Jean Artzberger - 1930 Women's Singles Champion

Summary of tournament history and 1930 and 1937 photos provided by Jose Mieres of FPCCTC - Our thanks to the Carnegie Library in Oakland.


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  Web Content: Josť Mieres and S Hirtle
Web Editor: S Hirtle

Copyright © by FPCCTC, Pittsburgh, PA, 2007-2010

Last modified on: February 6, 2010