Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Fallingwater - 7/20/15

Fallingwater is a house built over a 30-foot waterfall on Bear Run in western Pennsylvania. 

It was designed for Liliane and Edgar Kaufmann, owners of an upscale Pittsburgh department store, as a mountain retreat by the famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. Built between 1936-1939, it quickly became famous for the sublime integration of building and nature. It appeared on the cover of Time Magazine in 1939 and is now a National Historic Landmark preserved by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. 

There is a beautifully-designed Visitor Center where we checked in and were assigned our tour number. A gift shop, gallery, cafe, and restrooms can be found here while you wait for your tour to be called. The lovely gift shop has many exquisite Wright-themed items for sale as well as other souvenirs. 

There is also a Gallery that provides insight into the Kaufmanns and some of the interior furniture and decorative selections. Below is a lounge chair designed by Bruno Mathsson in 1936. Five of his chair designs can be found in Fallingwater.

The planetarium was used as an educational tool. One is displayed in the living room of  the house.

The textiles selected for Fallingwater were a key design element to the interior and were very carefully chosen. 

Because photos are not permitted inside Fallingwater, exhibits in the gallery display photos of some of the rooms. 

Tours begin on this beautiful wooden boardwalk to the road to the house (about a .25 mile walk). 

The first view of the house does not disappoint! Our first stop on the tour was on the bridge over Bear Run.

Below is a bronze sculpture, Mother and Child, by Jacques Lipchitz, next to the splash pool.

Bear Run could be accessed directly from the house by the steps seen here. Sometimes after heavy rains, Bear Run rises to the 5th step! Only once has there been a flood (in the 1950s) that reached the level of the first cantilevered floor.

Some facts of interest:
  • Cost: $155,000 including $8,000 for the architect (Wright). Today it would be valued at approximately $2.5M. The Kaufmann's had originally planned to spend only $35,000.
  • Square footage: Main House = 5,330; interior is 2,885 and terraces 2,445. The Guest House is another 1,700 square feet.
  • Color palette: Light ochre for the concrete; Wright's signature Cherokee Red for the steel.
  • Ownership: The Kaufmanns lived in the house (part-time) until their deaths in the 1950s. Their son, Edgar, Jr., continued to live here until 1963 when he donated the house and 1,700 surrounding acres to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. The Conservancy manages the property and maintains the house.
After touring the main house and guest house, we walked along the path to the fabulous views seen below. 

On the way back to the Visitor Center, we stopped briefly for some additional photos of beautiful Bear Run.

Be sure to purchase tickets on-line for the date and time you want to visit. We were surprised at how many visitors were there when we visited on a Monday morning. Tickets are $25/adult when purchased in advance ($27 if purchased on-site) for a guided house tour (each group is comprised of 12 people). This is the only way to see the interior of the house and children under 5 are not permitted on house tours. 

I have heard of this house for decades and was thrilled to finally see it in person. It is as  beautiful as I imagined it would be. How the creek and rock formations are integrated into the design of the house is truly amazing. Go out of your way to see this place! It is so worth it. The pictures just do not do it justice. 


  1. When you visit Chicago, you can go to the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio in Oak Park. Justine and I have been. It's also a guided tour inside, but then you can walk or drive around the neighborhood on your own to see lots of buildings he designed. I'm sure they're all owned by old money, but we dream about owning one.

    1. Maybe we will check that out when we are in your area!

  2. Nice post. One our favorite places. Kentuck Knob is another Wright home in the area.

  3. Loved that place, too. We did not make it to Kentuck Knob this trip, but saw information about it at Fallingwater.