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University Club art to be auctioned

By Melissa Meinzer
Monday, October 25, 2004

A venerable Oakland institution is on the way out – and so are all the treasures.
The University Club, the 114-year-old social club for university graduates, will cease operations on Nov. 15. Members decided to dissolve the club last week, due to low membership and money woes. So what’s to become of the club — displaced members, the impressive art collection, the beautiful eight-story building on University Drive?

The city is pulling together around its fallen comrade, with many hands pitching in to help.

“We would welcome them to join our long, rich history of family and culture,” said Keith Zimmer, general manager of the Concordia Club, nearby on O’Hara Street. “They’re our neighbors. We’re sad to see them go.” The Concordia Club has been open for nearly 130 years.

The Concordia would accommodate parties or events that had already been booked at the University Club, if those dates were available at the Concordia, Zimmer said.

Jeanne Davis, general manager of the Pittsburgh chapter of the Harvard-Yale-Princeton Club, Downtown on William Penn Place, echoed Zimmer’s sentiments.

“We have extended an invitation to them to join if they’re interested,” Davis said. “We hope they will.”

The collection in the University Club – 60 paintings and 170 lots — will be auctioned off by Constantine & Mayer, Inc., of Oakmont on Nov. 20, in the Adams Room. The collection includes furniture, paintings and other art.

“It’s a world-class collection,” said Jeff Constantine of Constantine & Mayer, containing important Italian, English, and American works, many with ties to Pittsburgh.

He said that the club and the auction house agreed it was important to hold the auction in the city, despite national and international interest in the collection.

“We’re hoping that 80 percent stays in Pittsburgh,” Constantine said. “We know that a number of members are interested, as are some affluent Pittsburgh collectors.”

The fate of the building itself is unknown. Completed in 1923, it was designed by Henry Hornbostel, who also designed Soldiers & Sailors National Military Museum & Memorial and much of the campus of Carnegie Mellon University.

“We understand the difficulty these clubs have these days,” said Arthur Zeigler, president of the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation. “We just hope that a new use can be found for the building.”

He said that the interior could easily be made functional for modern use, and that its strategic location made it an asset to the Oakland community. The Foundation would assist anyone looking to update and use the facility, he said.

“Architecturally, it is a handsome building,” he said. “We’d like to see it reused, not demolished. I’m optimistic.”

A piece of this
Want to own a piece of history? Stop by the auction of the University Club’s art, artifacts and furniture on Nov. 20. The sale begins at 11 a.m. with previews Wednesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the morning of the sale.
Call the auction house, Constantine & Mayer, at (412) 828-7015 for more details. Open up your piggy bank!

Some of the paintings up for auction:

“Arch and the Sea, Venice 1927.” Beppi Ciardi. Italian. Estimated at $15,000 $20,000.

“Mignon, 1921.” Malcolm Stephens Parcell. Pittsburgh. Estimated at $10,000-$15,000.

“The Bath.” Claude Gaston De Latouche. French. Estimated at $20,000-$30,000.

“Spring Landscape.” Christian J. Walter. Pittsburgh. Estimated $8000-$10,000.

“Laurel Ridge.” William J. Hyett. Pittsburgh. Estimated $3000-$5000.

“Abraham Lincoln.” John Gutzon Mothe Borglum. American. Estimated $15,000-$20,000.
– Estimates courtesy Constantine & Mayer, Inc

Melissa Meinzer can be reached at

Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

100 West Station Square Drive, Suite 450

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Phone: 412-471-5808  |  Fax: 412-471-1633