Falling Water

By Linda Brown

On the last full day of our Athens Trip, Laura guided us up, over and around fabulous turns and curves into Western Pennsylvania, where we stopped to enjoy the amazing Frank Lloyd Wright house, Fallingwater. I have been fascinated by this house ever since visiting it as a teenager and was delighted to be there once again. Our tour didn’t start for about an hour, so that gave those of us who like to shop, some time to visit the gift shop. They also have a little ‘café’ where you can get coffee (quite delicious, I’m told), and sandwiches, etc.

Falling Water is a cantilevered house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for the Edgar J. Kaufmann family from Pittsburgh, PA, and was completed in 1937. The house, which was built using natural materials found in the wooded area of Western Pennsylvania, blends into the woods where the Kaufmann family decided to build their vacation home. For two decades previously, the Kaufmanns had entertained employees from his famous department store, and other famous guests, with picnics at the secluded and relaxing ‘retreat’. The family loved the quiet, serene woods which has a stream, Bear Run, cascading through the property.

When Edgar and Liliane Kaufmann decided to build the house, they commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to design it. He came up with ‘probably the most modern house in America and Fallingwater is considered his greatest personal and professional triumph in his 70-year career’. (I’m quoting the jacket of a book about Fallingwater). If you have visited this architectural masterpiece, you will understand why it is described this way. (my words)

The inside floors of the house are flagstones and are polished to a high shine (with Johnson’s Wax!), so they tend to be a little slippery. The fireplace in the living room is built upon a HUGE rock which is halfway in and halfway out of one wall. The balconies are cantilevered over Bear Run and you can see and hear the stream, and waterfall, from just about every room in the house. The downstairs is quite roomy, but the two bedrooms are rather small and sparse. My guess is that they didn’t spend much time in those rooms. The Kaufmanns had one child, a son, who never married, so the two bedrooms were sufficient. Each room in the house has many, many windows so that ‘nature’ seems to be intermingled with the inside of the house. The windows are unique in that, when opened, you don’t see many frames since Wright wanted you to feel ‘at one’ with the outdoors. The steps leading to the second floor bedrooms are narrow, and the bedroom ceilings are quite low because he wanted the eye to be directed outside to nature. My first thought was that the house was ‘cold’, what with all that stone, but the Kaufmanns warmed up the house with wood furniture and Fall colors in their decorating scheme. There is a lot of ‘built-in’ furniture and the desks are designed so that you are gazing at the outdoors.

You are led up to the guest house by way of covered, curved steps and end up at another unique house which is built higher up on the hillside. There is a small, rectangular in-ground pool for the guests. There are also rooms in this building where the ‘household help’ lived.
The three-car garage, in the main house, has been converted into a room where, after the tour of the home, you are shown a movie, narrated by Mr. Kaufmann, Jr. (At least, I think is was Mr. Kaufmann, Jr., if I remember correctly)

No photographs are allowed inside the house, but the outside is the perfect place to take some fabulous shots of the house and waterfall.

I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to visit this incredible place again.


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