Traveling down a winding back road in Fayette County, you will come upon an extraordinary sight, a crown jewel of American architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater.
“Fallingwater was designed in 1935 by the American Architect, Frank Lloyd Wright for the Kaufmann family of Pittsburgh,” said Justin Gunther who is the Director and Vice president of the Western PA Conservancy.
The Kaufmann family-owned Pittsburgh’s largest department store and loved to escape to Bear Run in Fayette County. They wanted to build a vacation home along the stream by the waterfalls. Fallingwater was the Kaufmann family’s sanctuary to get away from the smog of Pittsburgh.
They asked Frank Lloyd Wright to be the architect for this home because their son was studying with him and he agreed. They asked Frank Lloyd Wright to create a modest vacation home, and instead, he created one of the most iconic homes in the world.
Justin Gunther told us, ” It is a symbol of people’s harmonious relationship with nature through design and through art you can live in harmony with nature.”
Now decades later after the Kaufmann’s enjoyed this amazing home, it is still drawing tens of thousands of visitors each year. In fact, last summer, Fallingwater welcomed their 6 millionth guest.
Some of the staff members at Fallingwater even had family members who helped build the home back in the 1930’s. A lot of the staff members have dedicated their lives to its preservation.
Denise Miner, who is the Public Tour Manager is one of those people. She told us, “I have been here for over 30 years, and I still discover new things. Sometimes it is just standing in a new spot or a weather change, or a shadow, someone asking a question that I haven’t though of before. So it is very exciting to learn and discover new things. It never becomes boring or old. “
It truly is a masterpiece to see in person. Denise went on to tell us, “If we keep in mind that Fallingwater was built in the 1930’s, that was a time when houses were really box like rooms, in box like buildings, and Frank Lloyd Wright was destroying the box.”
Homes in 2020 take a lot of inspiration from Frank Lloyd Wright and from Fallingwater. For example, Fallingwater has a very open floor plan which many people desire today. That was not common back in the 1930’s.
When walking around the grounds, you notice how amazing the design is. Typically adding a man made feature like a home to a beautiful natural landscape, it takes away from nature’s beauty. However, with this home, it actually seems to add more beauty to the landscape.
Fallingwater last year was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list and is on the Smithsonian’s list of 28 places to see before you die. No matter where you live in the Keystone State, it is within a days drive.
If you would like to visit Fallingwater, they are open every day from 9 to 5, except on Wednesday’s they are closed. They ask you to wear a mask and to purchase tickets in advance. For a self guided exterior tour, the cost is $18 dollars per person. If you would like to take a guided exterior tour, with a private tour guide with your group, the cost is $28 dollars.
Other things to do in Fayette County while visiting Fallingwater:
Kentuck Knob – Another Frank Lloyd Wright home is just 15 minutes away from Fallingwater. It is a quick drive if you want to make a day out of checking out amazing homes.
Ohiopyle State Park – If you are adventurous, you can head over to Ohiopyle State Park where you can go hiking, fishing, and even whitewater rafting! This state park is only 10 minutes from Fallingwater.