Folly

Fair Hill endures despite additions unimagined when its foundations were sunk in Irish soil in the mists of the 1800s. Indeed, if the past is prologue, Fair Hill is expandable to incalculable dimensions; and we are attached to it inextricably. Fair Hill Hall does not replace Fair Hill. It is a supplement to the property – a real-estate ornament – an architectural folly modelled after Wilpen Hall, a safe distance from Pittsburgh PA.

Appearances to the contrary, we are not committing the folly of seeking entrée into a social “Blue Book.” We do not consult such “books.” Verily, our principals, the Old Man and Golf Widow, have not, so far, accumulated wealth like Wilpen Hall’s owners past and present. The Club has operated in the red since its inception in 2011. Seven supporters materialized on opening day, each plunking down the $25 membership fee for password-protected access. Yet similarly inclined souls did not present themselves over the next year or two or three. Accordingly, New Monuments did an about-face: We opened to the world, asking for voluntary contributions in return.

Our fortunes were not made thereby. Custom in the pro shop is the very opposite of brisk. Caps, visors, posters and fascinators collect dust. Choko, our equine sales force based in Tecate MX, has neither moved merchandise nor brought newbies into the fold. Projected community outreach such as New Monuments signs on bus-stop benches is arguably folly too. Our fascination with Wilpen Hall rather is aesthetic.

Why this Gilded Age manor house (architect George C. Orth, 1899)? In splendid isolation on a hilltop in “The Heights” (Sewickley Heights), the bastion built by a captain of industry, aka robber baron, used to command the attention of a cub reporter (the Old Man) for the Sewickley Herald rattling past in his Volkswagen Fox. Had the Sewickley Hunt deigned to look down its collective nose long enough to read his thoughts, which have circled back to Wilpen Hall’s sandstone-and-shingle façade and capacious seven-chimneyed roofline trespassingly ever after, it would have run him out of town.

Strike trespassingly. His reveries have enabled him to occupy all 23,000 square feet lawfully.

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Gall, George H., Homes and Country Estates of Pittsburgh Men (1905)