In the year 1831 John Jones Gillespie, a 17 year old lad who was an enthusiast for opportunities that lay “west of the mountains” rode over the Alleghenies from his home in Milton, PA.  He secured a job with Mr. Albree, the owner of a novelty shop at No. 6 Wood Street, Pittsburgh, PA.  The following year Mr. Albree decided to return to Germany.  In March of 1832 the young Gillespie financed the purchase of the shop through his friends and J.J. Gillespie Company was founded.

            Mr. Gillespie quickly responded to the needs of the times and acquired fine stocks of Belgian Glass and Mirrors.  His store became a “Trading Post” for fine home accessories.  During the early days the gallery became the headquarters for local painters. 

            The first print published west of the Allegheny Mountains was a lithograph from the painting “The Pioneers Defense” by Trevor McClung, a Pittsburgh artist.  It was engraved by August Wagner of Pittsburgh and published By J.J. Gillespie Company.  Frame making, gilding, and restorations were introduced in 1845 and the name Gillespie has since been synonymous with the finest workmanship.

            Connections were made with all the leading New York and European Art Dealers, which brought to Pittsburgh the finest old masters, Barbizon, English, and American paintings.  Great art accumulated, including the development and promotion of the great Scalp level painters of Western Pennsylvania.  This included art by George Hetzel, The Wall brothers, John Beatty, Joseph Woodwell, Jasper Lawman, and others.  All these exhibits were directly responsible for the creation of art spirit, which later culminated in the Art Department of Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh. 

            At the death of Gillespie in July 1886, Mr. A.S. Wall and Mr. A.C. McCallam continued business under the same name.  This was followed by John E. Frazer and J. Hyett who kept the business operating for the first hundred years. Mr. Hyatt continued business in association with J.J. Haushalter until 1965.  In 1965 Gordon J. Thomas, followed by George Miller and Gary Evans.  Current owners, William and Sandra Castro, purchased the gallery in 1998 with Sandra Castro and the first woman President of the gallery in 166 years.  The gallery currently is 176 years old, the oldest in America, and continues the tradition of fine quality European and American oil paintings, restoration, framing, and fine home accessories in the Pittsburgh area.  













Copyright © 2006 J.J. Gillespie Galleries