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Frick foundation, relatives dispute location of archives

Friday, October 13, 2000

By Jim McKinnon, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Common Pleas Judge Lee J. Mazur will rule within the next 30 days on motions and arguments made by all sides in the dispute over where the personal archives of Helen Clay Frick should be kept -- in Pittsburgh or New York.

Mazur heard arguments yesterday in Orphan's Court, where attorneys for Arabella Dane and Martha Sanger, grandnieces of Frick, and lawyers for the Helen Clay Frick Foundation trustees, who voted to move the archives, have filed objections to the other's efforts.

In November, trustees of the foundation, which owns the archives, voted 10-1 to move them to New York's Frick Art Reference Library in Manhattan.

The documents include school notebooks, letters, diaries, photographs and film reels collected by industrialist Henry Clay Frick and his daughter, Helen. The collection is housed on the second floor of the Carriage House at Clayton, the Fricks' Point Breeze home, which is now the Frick Art & Historical Center and is open to the public.

"These papers were collected from the mid-1800s to the time of our great-aunt's death in 1984," Sanger, who lives in Baltimore, said after yesterday's hearing. "There are personal and business items. It relates completely to Pennsylvania and has nothing to do with New York."

"It's almost four generations of [family] history that is connected to Pittsburgh," added Dane, Sanger's sister who lives in Boston. "They never lived in New York as a permanent residence. Our great-aunt really had no use for New York."

The two women are great-granddaughters of Henry Clay Frick. They reiterated part of the argument made by their attorneys, that Helen Clay Frick's will directs that the archives be maintained in Pittsburgh.

In March, Dane and Sanger filed objections to the foundation's motion to allow the move to New York.

In June, attorneys for the foundation filed preliminary objections to the sisters' motion.

Mazur said that he will rule on whether there should be a trial and, if so, what information should be allowed as part of the proceeding.

If a trial is ordered, Mazur will set a date after his ruling.

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