Henry Clay Frick

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An $800,000 conservation project is underway to keep one of Pittsburgh's oldest and most recognizable East End homes from sinking.

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There are more than a few Egyptian-themed tombs sprinkled amid the sprawling expanse of Pittsburgh’s Allegheny Cemetery, but among the looming obelisks, pyramidal headstones and even its fellow mausoleums, there is one imposing white granite structure that stands out.

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In 1892, the country’s largest trade union, the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers, took on the world’s largest manufacturing firm, the Carnegie Steel Corporation. Carnegie’s plant manager Henry Clay Frick increased production demands, but refused to increase wages. Frick eventually locked workers out of the facility spurring a strike.

Only about a fifth of the workers at the Homestead Works Steel Mill were skilled workers represented by the union. But the nearly 3,000 workers agreed to strike for better wages and working conditions.

Library of Congress

Most days, Henry Clay Frick liked to take a late lunch with friends at the Duquesne Club, just a short distance from his Fifth Avenue office at the Chronicle-Telegraph building. He’d just returned to his desk on Saturday, July 23 1892, when anarchist Alexander Berkman, wearing a brand new black suit, pushed the door open.  

“Berkman rushed in, drew a .38 caliber revolver, and fired two quick shots right at Frick, point blank,” said Andy Masich, president of the Heinz History Center.

The first shot hit Frick in the shoulder, the second in the neck. As Frick’s associates wrestled Berkman to the ground, he fired a third time, hitting the ceiling. Berkman reached for the dagger in his pocket and struck at Frick’s legs. That dagger remains on display at the museum.