If you wander through Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Schenley Park this season to admire the holiday trees, plants and decorations, consider the odyssey of Henry Phipps Jr.
The quiet philanthropist gave the elegant, lush greenhouse to the city of Pittsburgh in 1893.
Born in Philadelphia in 1839, he was the son of immigrants who came to America from Shropshire, England. His father was a shoemaker and, in 1845, moved the family to Old Allegheny, now Pittsburgh’s North Side.
There, the teen-aged Henry Phipps met and befriended Andrew Carnegie, a young Scotsman. The two men became business partners in Carnegie Steel. An excellent financier, Phipps was the company’s second largest shareholder.
He sold his shares in 1901 to J.P. Morgan for more than $50 million. He also was a successful real estate investor and, like Carnegie and Henry Clay Frick, built a fashionable mansion in New York.
Mr. Phipps believed in the power of philanthropy. He funded the Phipps Institute for the Study, Treatment and Prevention of Tuberculosis at the University of Pennsylvania. He also gave about $1.8 million to a psychiatric clinic at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. In 1905, he established a $1 million fund to build housing for the poor in New York City. Mr. Phipps died in 1930.