So this was a hard one, you all know that we try not to spend much if anything on entertainment, but we found ourselves about 30 minutes from Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous Fallingwater. The tour was not cheap, but it seemed to be a once in a lifetime opportunity that we just could not let pass. A basic tour is $30 per person, and they go way up from there. I believe on the web site they listed a “focus” tour for up to four people for $1,200, only $300 each?? Of course we choose the basic tour and were not disappointed.
The house was built for Edgar and Liliane Kaufmann of the Kaufmann Department Store in Pittsburg, PA and was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. They were introduced to Wright by their only son Edgar, Jr. while he was apprenticing under Wright at his famous Taliesin Fellowship. The Kaufmann’s like most affluent Pittsburg “royalty” week ended and holidayed outside of town, they owned some property on Bear Run in the Laurel Highlands of PA and commissioned Wright to build a weekend retreat on the property.
The Kaufmann’s dreamed of a cabin facing the falls, but Wright had vastly different plans. He had extensive surveys and topographical maps drawn of the area but completed the initial drawings for the house in a matter of hours before a meeting with the Kaufmanns. His plans placed the house on top of the falls instead of facing them. It was the epitome of “organic architecture” symbolizing a harmony between people and nature.
Echoing a natural pattern established by its neighboring rock ledges, Wright positioned the house over the falls in a stacked grouping of cantilevered concrete trays each anchored to a central stone chimney and a massive boulder. The house is three levels not including the platform at river level, has four bedrooms each with its own bath, sitting area (all small but functional) and terrace viewing Bear Run and surrounding nature. You can see here how the building is anchored in this boulder.
Although the Kaufmann’s gave an initial budget of $35,000 the final price for the house was $155,000 which includes Wright’s architectural fee of $8,000. Most walls interior and exterior are made of stone which was quarried on site. Wright also designed furnishings for the home some of which were later replaced, but most remain. The furnishings are designed low to not inhibit the view from the windows and are mostly cantilevered as well, the couches have no legs they are attached to the walls, the shelving has no support, the windows open outwards and corner windows have not corner support.
The design blurred boundary between inside and outside. There is as much outdoor terrace living space as there is interior space and in the living room a glass covering can be moved to expose a staircase directly to the river below.
There were additions to the property after the initial house was constructed. Of mention are the guest house further up the hill which is connected by a covered walkway and includes a pool on the terrace and a four-car garage with household help’s quarters above. Both of these additions were designed by Wright. Another (probably much needed) addition to the property were screens on the windows. Although openness and oneness with nature are important no-one wants to live with bugs.
On our tour photos were not allowed to conserve time and visitors safety, but after the tour we were allowed to walk around outside and on a couple of the terraces so interior pictures are thru windows which do not provide the best pictures, but this is what we have.
Beautiful little weekend get-a-way in the hills. Peace and Love!!!