Woodland Road, Sewickley, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
This house is best associated with...
George McCully Laughlin
Major George M. Laughlin, Vice-Chairman of Jones & Laughlin Steel, Pittsburgh
Andrew W. Mellon
Andrew William Mellon, of Pittsburgh; U.S. Secretary of the Treasury etc.
Situated in a small valley, the house was approached from a terraced drive that ran up to the porte-cochere and in the grounds Mellon added a swimming pool and tennis courts. Its name is distinctly Irish, but considering both Laughlin and Mellon were the sons of Northern Irishmen, its difficult to call which of them gave it its distinct name.
In his forties, Mellon had married the 22-year old Nora McMullen, and perhaps unsurprisingly it was an unmitigated disaster almost from the get-go. After she had a string of affairs, there was a brief reconciliation before she went back to her erstwhile lover. To keep the scandal private, Mellon succeeded in changing a law so that divorce cases in Pennsylvania no longer needed to be heard by a jury. Nora, who very much wanted her story to be heard, instead went directly to the press which in 1912 resulted in a very public split! Their children divided their time between here and their mother's home.
Mellon retained Lenmarkee as his retreat from Washington D.C. and after a year in London as U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom he finally retired here in 1933, surrounded by one of the world's most impressive art collections. He died in 1937 and three years later (1940) his son, Paul, gave the house to Chatham University on whose board Mellon had sat for several years, and whose origins went back to the Pennsylvania Female College which, coincidentally, was founded by George Laughlin's father, James.
In 1971, a wing was added with a large dining hall and further recreational space for students. Found today on Chatham's Shadyside campus, it is known as Andrew W. Mellon Hall and is used by the university as a student center with administrative offices.
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