Sorry to hear about the trees coming out, but I suppose it’s a natural part of the process - if you try a lot of things, some will work out better than others, and in the end you may decide to just go with more of the things that work out best.
In terms of difficulty getting the pears to ripen, I’m curious whether you think it was a matter of sun/spacing, or more a matter of timing. We have a fairly small yard, and I have been planning to try and grow our pears in a Belgian fence, to complement our apple fence on the other side of the yard. So, the spacing will be close, in terms of trunk to trunk, but my hope is that the sun exposure will be better than it would be with a freestanding tree, and that keeping the main branches at 45 degrees will do something to promote fruiting. And I’m thinking that the criss-crossing branches of the Belgian fence pattern may also help with pollination, which I understand can be tricky with certain pears. Also using OHxF 333, so hopefully that will help somewhat with precocity and keeping things to a manageable height. We’ll see!
I’m happy to hear that you like Urbaniste. That’s another one that I’ve been intrigued by. (Sucker for a good back story that I am…) My overall plan in terms of varieties is to try and mix some good modern disease-resistant pears (e.g. Harrow Sweet, Harvest Queen, Potomac), some American heirlooms (e.g. Seckel and Tyson, which was the one thing that survived my initial blunders, and possibly Dana Hovey, which @marknmt has talked up in the past, if I remember correctly), and some old European-as-in-from-Europe pears.
In addition to Urbaniste and Clara Frijs, I’ve also been looking at Beurre Superfin, which wasn’t terrific for you (if I remember) but might do better with the somewhat cooler weather up here. And I know you’ve spoken highly of Fondant de Moulins Lille and Docteur Desportes (is that the same as the Andre Desportes described by Hedrick?)
@JesseS: Beurre Giffard sounds really intriguing. I’m curious to know if you have any experience with McLaughlin, the old Maine pear that Fedco offers. Too bad Fedco doesn’t sell scion wood for pears. They have some things that sound interesting, but OH x F 97 seems like it would be an awful lot of tree for my yard.