Who was Taylor Allderdice? A Look at Our School’s Namesake



Taylobr Allderdice’s Obituary article from the Pittsburgh Press, 1934

Five days a week, hundreds of students walk up the front steps and past the green and white lettering that spells out the name of our school on their way into the building. Upon gazing at this name, many may know simply that Taylor Allderdice was probably named after some long dead rich guy. In the case that you ever find yourself wondering precisely who this long dead rich guy was, Mr. Allderdice has one of those classic rags-to-riches stories, as he went from a steel-mill worker to a wealthy industrialist.

Born in 1863 and raised in Philadelphia, Mr. Allderdice had his first job as a bank messenger for only a few dollars an hour. Like many, he them moved to Pittsburgh in search of work in the steel mills as a young man. From his original position as a laborer, he left work to attend Lehigh University in 1883. Returning to the steel city after graduating, he worked his way up until he eventually earned the manager position for the mills under the National Tube Company (NTC), which would merge with other steel corporations and is now the National Tube Works. Allderidce had a ride-or-die philosophy when it came to his dedication to his work, as evidenced by his long career in the steel industry from 1881 as a teenager to his retirement in 1928. Before he left work, Mr. Allderdice was president of the NTC. 

In the midst of climbing up the career ladder, Allderdice was able to steal the heart of Ellen Forde Hansell and was married in 1890. The pair had six children. Mrs. Allderdice was an avid tennis player, and was inducted in 1965 into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Ellen also was a part of the Women’s City Club, which was not only a social club, but encouraged literary endeavours for women. A member of the organization, she also took part in their musical program and was instrumental in the production of many choral concerts. With a great fondness in music, a pipe organ was installed in the Schenley Highschool auditorium in her name. Unfortunately, it was destroyed in the 1972 fire before the school closed in 2008.

Allderdice in its founding year, 1927 // classmates.com

Sadly, both Mr. and Mrs. Allderdice had untimely ends. Taylor met his demise after suffering from pneumonia, and Ellen supposedly died from grief mere hours after burying one of her sons, Lawrence. As for their legacy, Dice earned its name upon its founding in 1927 because Taylor was one of the first charter members of the Pittsburgh Board of Education, as well as having a place on the board of the Carnegie Institute of Technology. Additionally he was involved with the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission, which not only recognizes those individuals who put the benefits of others first, but also provides grants and scholarship aid to those deserving. As an honorable man who sought a stronger education system in Pittsburgh, it seems only fitting to name a school after him

Taylor clearly had the right idea in mind, as reflected by the age old saying inscribed in the front of Allderdice: “The foundation of every state is the education of its youth.”