Fallingwater

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Continuing our ride through western Maryland and into southwestern Pennsylvania (see On the Road), we reached Fallingwater in Mill Run, PA with a few minutes to spare before our 10am tour.

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Fallingwater, “one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s most widely acclaimed works, was designed in 1935 for the family of Pittsburgh department store owner Edgar Kaufmann Sr”. (comments taken from Fallingwater literature).

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Wright designed and built the house to rise above the waterfall rather than face it.  Fallingwater “exemplifies Wright’s concept of organic architecture: the harmonious union of art and nature”_MG_9080

Constructed between 1936 and 1939, the home was made of sandstone quarried on the property and was built by local artisans.  The stone serves to separate reinforced concrete trays that were cantilevered over the stream.

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Our guided tour (no indoor photography allowed) lasted about an hour and while a bit rushed, was fascinating.  We enjoyed hearing about Wright’s architectural themes, the extensive process involved in making this masterpiece, and the occasional design disagreements he had with the Kaufmanns.  New York Times architecture critic Paul Goldberger called Fallingwater Wright’s “most sublime integration of man and nature”.

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Fallingwater was the weekend home of the Kaufmann family from 1937 until 1963 when Edgar Kauffmann, Jr entrusted the house, it’s contents and grounds to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.  The home was opened to the pubic in 1964 and over 5 million people have toured the home since that time.

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After our tour we walked the trail to the Visitors Center, Museum Store, and Cafe.

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We enjoyed lunch in the environmentally friendly cafe with food that was healthy and locally sourced.  Reusable dishes and utencils! Recycling! and a relaxing view.

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If you are anywhere near this National Historic Landmark, I urge you to go.  Definitely a highlight to our trip.

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Next Stop:  Pittsburgh!

51 thoughts on “Fallingwater

    • Hopefully you’ll get there someday, Laurie! It was fascinating! The guides know the stories and the history and I learned much. I also loved the commitment to the environment. Really, really neat!!

    • Oh how wonderful that you’ve been more than once! The story and history are fascinating, and of course FLW’s commitment to the environment even better.
      I just visited your blog! How wonderful that it is a family affair! That ivy shot is really great! I look forward to seeing more your work.

  1. Oh, Laurie, I am SO glad I saw this in my reader this morning. What fantastic photos! We have some Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture in Buffalo which is just something else to see. Nothing compared to what you showed us here though. These falls the way you captured them in the first photo, just perfect. And this house the way you shot it hanging over the falls …. wow, Laurie, just excellent! Can you imagine living in a house like that, hearing the sound of falling water all the time. *sigh* May you have a wonderful weekend!!! Love, Amy

    • It really is wonderful! Several places in the home have windows within casements so that they can be completely opened and hear and see the water. Incredible!

      • To live in a home like that. Just wow! I LOVE the sound of running water. I have some nature CD’s that have water sounds which are so comforting. Have a wonderful weekend, Laurie. Love, Amy

  2. The construction of the home has suffered over the years and has had to be reinforced due to the moisture, etc, of the falls/water. It is, indeed, a very interesting story but FLW was a fascinating ‘character’ (and he was a “character”!!!). Lovely photos that truly capture the spirit of the house.

  3. Did you, by any chance, stay at Nemacolin? We were there a couple of years ago, and toured Fallingwater – it’s an amazing place!

  4. Wow, Laurie, this house is so modern looking considering the time when it was built. Imagine the tranquility of what it must have been like spending weekends in this home as family. Just beautiful!

    • It’s interesting because evidently when they finally were able to take possession of the home (after 3 years in the making), Mrs. Kauffman was a little less than enthused. It seems fairly barren and simple. Her letters indicate that within months though she began to realize how wonderful it was and how much closer to nature she felt.

  5. I remember a few years back watching a documentary on FLW [what an interesting character!] and it featured this house. My heart went boom when I saw the first photo – I feel as if I know this place I so fell in love with it from that show. How wonderful that you my friend have been there and walked through it and heard the sounds of water and nature. I believe it may be in a little conservation difficulty due to the fact it was built over and on and in water – I hope it can be saved. Another must visit place when I’ve won the Lotto and make my grand tour! 🙂

    • We did hear about parts of the house that are undergoing renovation, although they’ll be true to the original home, but it really was in great shape all things considered.
      Did you ever read Loving Frank by Nancy Horan. Google it – fascinating!
      I can’t wait until you win that Lotto and make the tour. We’ll all have such fun!!!

    • Your comment reminds me of a story we heard on the tour: when Mrs. Kauffman first moved in, she was somewhat disappointed; she felt the place was sparse or cold (I can’t remember her exact words), but after living there for a few months, her writings indicate that she realized how little she actually needed and how close she felt to nature. Pretty cool

  6. Fallingwater pictures are astounding! I would live on the water (or in that house) in a minute! For some reason these pics remind me of Margaret Atwood’s words, from The Penelopiad: “Water does not resist. Water flows. When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress. Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it. Water is patient. Dripping water wears away a stone. Remember that, my child. Remember you are half water. If you can’t go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does.”

    Thanks for sharing this today, Laurie!

  7. I was a fan long ago, and now it’s been so long since I thought of FLW. However, just like Contented Crafter said, the instant I saw the first photo I recognized the place. I think a tour must have been fascinating. My question is: now that you’ve been all over the grounds and inside, what do you think? Would you want to live there? Is it homey or…artsy? I’ve never been of course, so I can’t say for myself till the day I do.

    • My friend and I discussed this very concept as we drove on to the next stop. She felt the home lacked warmth, that it was not a place where she could find comfort. I wouldn’t go quite that far but did recognize that the openess and spartan furniture style gave an impression of more artsy than homey. On the other hand, as I am one who loves the openess, the light, and the view of the outdoors, I was enthralled.
      Also, I wrote this reply to a previous comment: when Mrs. Kauffman first moved in, she was somewhat disappointed; she felt the place was sparse or cold (I can’t remember her exact words), but after living there for a few months, her writings indicate that she realized how little she actually needed and how close she felt to nature. Pretty cool

  8. Fallingwater looks fabulous ~ and your photos are amazing. I’ll definitely add it to the list of places to visit. Looks like it’s along the same path we take to Cleveland so next time we may have to stop in. Thanks for posting this,

    • I am confident you will love it. We took the tour ($25 / one hour) and then wandered around and read all the displays. Give yourselves a good 2 hours, minimum

  9. Frank Lloyd Wright is one my favorite architects. I’ve always wanted to see Falling Water. Did they tell you about the problems the owners had with the house when they first moved in? Leakage, and such. What a genius that man was.

    Love your trips and accompanying photos, Laurie. You rock!!

    • We did learn of some of the problems and renovation / repair is ongoing. Even still, it’s amazing how the house has withstood the years and the constant moisture.
      Hope you get to go sometime. It was fascinating!

  10. Impeccable job on this post and photos Laurie 🙂 In a documentary I saw another architect told Edgar Kaufmann Sr. that if he built this house the way FLW suggested the house would collapse within 20 years. When Kaufmann told FLW what this other architect said FLW replied “If you believe this you are not worthy of one of my homes”. I guess FLW was correct because falling Water sill looks beautiful.

    • Yes, our tour guide told a version of that very story! It was so interesting to hear of the sparring over the project. Sometimes FLW won; sometimes Kaufmann.
      I sure hope you get there, Joe!

  11. I lived in PA for 10 years and never took the time to go to Fallingwater–what is the matter with me?! I still intend to go, someday, and even more now that I’ve seen your photos!

    • We do that don’t we? I lived in a National Forest in Idaho and missed some of the very wonderful places right under my nose! Hope you get to visit someday!

  12. Hands down one of my favorite Wright homes. I just don’t understand why we don’t do everything like this. It seems to make such sense and keeps everything in harmony. I get it that such things are expensive — initially — but they said that about computers and wifi and cable and on and on. Everything is expensive until you’ve got it down so well that enough people want it. Great photos.

    • As we walked around the city of Pittsburgh, several times we commented that we just don’t build things like we used to. A shame that most modern buildings have so little character and beauty.

  13. Wright was a most interesting character and his architecture is wonderful but as you say, difficult to feel comfortable in. We have good friends who designed their home here with religious adherence to wright and it’s just beautiful. But it’s important to follow it through, for example all of their furniture is also compliant w his principals. I am More of a “soft sofa, feet on the furniture” person myself but I love visiting their Wright-inspired home. Thanks for posting this on LB, your photos are wonderful.

  14. Pingback: Pittsburgh: Rivers and Bridges | Life on the Bike and other Fab Things

  15. Have you read “Loving Frank” by Nancy Horan? If not, we strongly recommend it. (don’t google FLW before reading it) It was that book coupled with circumstances in MP’s life that inspired SK, truly! again, great piece, xo, LMA

    • Loving Frank was an incredible book, and in fact, since it’s been a few years since I read it, I’m thinking I need to revisit it. The story was stunning, shocking, and made me want to learn so much more about Mamah!

Because Boomdee dared me: Lay a little sugar on me :-)

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